Questions Kids Ask

I was a curious [read: annoyingly inquisitive] kid growing up.

In the 4th grade, I asked the teacher–in the middle of a lesson–a question that I had considered while home sick the day before. I explained that as I was lying on the couch, I noticed my mom had a can of diet coke sitting on the coffee table. I stared at the words on the can and wondered: Why do we pronounce the “e” in the word, “diet” because, after all, the “i” is a long sound, so wouldn’t the “e” be silent?

Our burly, former-husker-football-player teacher, Mr. F, looked at me over his mustache and with a chuckle said, “Tell your parents to give you something to do when you are sick…”

Another time I read an old, family copy of The Swiss Family Robinson and sat beneath the veil of conversation between adults. Questions kept swelling in my mind until they finally burst. Perhaps the book was beyond my level. Perhaps I should have mulled the question over before posing it to others. Nonetheless, I remember the look. The look on the faces of the adults that they were either stumped on how to answer or tired of answering too many questions.

Admittedly, I know that look now as a teacher.

I end my day with a squirrely group of 9th graders. Whenever I introduce something new or give directions, their arms race to the ceiling as if it were a 50 meter dash. Sometimes the questions energize my teaching, and other times, they make me hope for the bell. I am sure during those exhausting rounds of questioning, I give them glances that show I am either stumped or tired of giving out answers (sometimes to the same question if they were not being attentive listeners). Since I display every emotion openly on my face, I am not entirely sure how to avoid such an expression in the classroom. Despite that, I try to honor most questions posed in my classroom…even if it is the last class on a Friday afternoon.

As a parent, though, it is easy to avoid that type of facial expression; at the age of three, her questions are becoming even more fun, and her curiousity about the world is growing (maybe when she is older and her questions change, I will not feel the same way). Below are a few questions she has asked just within the last week:

  • Mama, where do I come from?
  • What is God?
  • What does my name spell backwards?
  • Who are “they”? (She asked this after my husband said, “You know, Linnea, they say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

So, as both a teacher and a parent, I hope I can answer questions with as much thought and creativity with which they were asked. And, hopefully, the questions will keep coming.


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