If I counted up the number of questions I get asked every day, I think the final number would make my head hurt. A lot. I live with a four year old so, yes, questions come with the territory, but my M appears to have a particularly enquiring mind and some days she hardly pauses for breath.
I have to admit something which I feel kinda guilty about. I know being four is all about finding out about your world, that questions are something to be encouraged, blah blah blah. But sometimes it just drives me so insane that I want to scream. I want to tell her to shut up and leave me alone. I want to put my fingers in my ears, sing loudly and run away. Not exactly the nurturing feelings of a model Mother.
It can just be so relentless. There are various question categories:
- the obvious questions that all kids ask, about where a missing toy is or what we are doing today
- the educational questions, like what is 9 plus 4 or how to spell ‘jam’
- the really awkward questions like “yes, but how does the baby get into the Mummy’s tummy in the first place?”
- the scientific questions that are really hard to explain in preschool speak, like “how does the water from the sea end up in the clouds?”
- the totally random mind dump questions, recently including “do shop mannequins have dead people inside them?”, “what tunes do bluebells play?” and “what do spiders think about?”
OK, so I quite like the last category but the rest of them can really wear me down. I know, I shouldn’t be complaining about having a bright kid with a thirst for knowledge but some days I just need a break from that relentless tiny voice, picking my entirely inadequate brain from dawn til dusk.
The first thing that came out of her mouth this morning was “what colour do you get if you mix green and purple?” Literally the first thing she said. I hadn’t even spoken yet, other than to shhhh the baby whilst I got him his milk with one hand and tried to balance his ever increasing bulk in his sleeping bag with my other hand. She padded into the kitchen, half asleep, and asked me about colour mixing. As if it had been bugging her all night and she absolutely needed to know the answer right now. She asks about colour mixtures quite a lot actually but I was in no fit state to work it out before 7am.
The other day, I was in the middle of running about the house like a headless chicken trying to get us out the door in time for school and she starts shooting sums at me. At that precise moment, I neither knew nor cared what you get if you take 3 away from 11. I would say she is bad at picking her moments but she just never stops so it is much worse than that.
My least favourite Q and A sessions are in the car as I am a captive audience. Plus, I have always viewed car time as adult down time to a certain extent and she totally ruins my moment of zen. I’ve never been a kid’s music in the car kind of a Mum. They get my choice (Radio Two for the most part), or Daddy’s choice when he is driving (hard house and trance, which they all love and bop along to, calling it Funny Music). Car time is something to be cherished. I can sing along to the radio or play Pop Master. I actually look forward to car journeys as they are far more peaceful than being at home.
At least, they used to be. Not so these days. The barrage of questions continues as we drive along. “Why can I see the moon in the daytime? That man on the radio just said ‘conservative’. What does conservative mean? How many ants are there in our garden? How many in the world?” I am ashamed to admit I have come up with a new line to give my ears and brain a rest during car time. I say I have to concertrate hard on driving for a while now because this is a particularly tricky road. It isn’t. I just can’t stand it any more.
Even if the questions are of the easy variety and are quick to answer (“what day is it?”) or are very cute and endearing (“if bees make honey, do flies make jam?”) my brain still feels like it is being drained as the day goes by. It is like she is sucking away any knowledge left in my tired head and storing it in hers. Have you seen The Dark Crystal? I feel like a Podling having it’s essence drained. By tea time, I am a brain-dead Podling, my essence in a jar beside me,ready to be downed by any passing Skeksis. For those who haven’t seen The Dark Crystal, I basically mean I’m a vegetable, with nothing left between my ears. Oh, and watch it immediately. Brilliant and creepy as fuck.
Anyway, back to my point (it is coming up for tea time and my exhausted mind wanders easily). I know the Why years are well documented and that they can be wearing but I hope I’m not alone in actually wanting to scream at my adorable little girl, just to make her stop. It is a slow kind of torture, being questioned to death.
You would think, as M is my second child, I’d be well prepared for this phase. But it was very different with H. He did his fair share of questioning but he just doesn’t have M’s insatiable thirst for knowledge. She is three years his junior and she already asks me things that I know haven’t occured to him, even now.
For H, as with many adults I know, things are just the way they are. He knows a man and a lady make a baby and that is enough for him right now. He doesn’t need to know how. He also lives in the moment. He knows that he will grow up and be an adult one day but he really doesn’t feel the need to endlessly question how old he has to be to drive a car or where he will live.
M asked me at the weekend how I will feel when H grows up and moves away, seeing as he is the eldest so will do that first. I hadn’t even really thought about that yet myself, being so far off. I often have to remind myself that she is only four. I mean, what four year contemplates what her life will look like in over ten years time?
I am very aware that I am infinitely lucky to have my clever little girl. She is brim full of endless love and zibrant energy…. and many, many questions. I feel terrible Mother’s Guilt for resenting the constant stream of questions but, much as I want to help her fill her little head, I also need to protect what is left of mine. Thank heavens for my two working days a week when the question generator is at nursery, driving someone else totally crazy for a few precious hours.