from Why to What If to How

I’m appallingly unprepared for what comes at me.
He tilts his head, looks at me like I'm a spotlight operator ready to spin toward the answer, ready to highlight the information he's hoping for.
Where is Mount Everest? Why do churches have steeples? How do carousels work? 
I don’t know exactly what stars are made of or why geckos don't have eyelids or who invented video games, but I do know that asking questions is a central part of what it means to be a child.  Of what it means to be him.

I wonder what Mrs. Teach’s name was when she was a little girl? 
What do you call a homeless snail?  Oh, a slug, maybe.
Sometimes, if I wait long enough, he arrives at his own conclusions.

Which animal is the quietest one on the planet?
How can scientists know what the quietest dinosaur was if there were no scientists alive back then?
Sometimes, if I wait too long, he says Okay, let's ask Siri.

He asks questions like it's his job, like it's as normal and second-nature as his next breath.  He wants to explore and discover and innovate.  I don’t think labeling him makes me a hypocrite, I think it makes me human.  Incessant streams of why and what if and how make it seem fair to say he's very curious.  But he is smart and handsome and kind too, a swirly mix of all the best things, like a constellation, like a carousel.

His curiosity may be mercurial, may rise and fall with age.  He may learn from the world that recognition is most often received for knowing the right answer, that rewards are given for response more than query, that there are no incentives for wonder.  But he will hear from me, time and time again, that raising his hand to ask is one of the bravest, best things he'll ever do.  That somebody else may be wondering the very same thing, too.


rht said...

What good are answers without questions? ;)

Poppy John said...

Jenni Baby,

You should do what I did with you when you were little and asked lots of questions...just make up stuff.