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Questions From a 3 Year Old

For an update on Calfgrit3’s injury: he’s healing up nicely. It’s really astonishing how quickly kids heal. His black eye is really just a shadow of what it was the couple days after the fall, and there’s been no lasting effect.

Now, while on the subject of Calfgrit3, he’s been asking some interesting questions lately:

“Why don’t earthworms have eyes?”

“Why does water put out fires?”

“Why is the microwave not hot?”

“Why do we read books before nap and bedtime?”

I remember when Calfgrit7 was 3 years old — he asked similarly difficult to answer questions. The only specific one I remember from him is: “Why is the sky blue?”

Notice the common theme to these questions? “Why”. Every question from a 3 year old revolves around “Why?” They don’t ask, “Where does the sun go at night?”, they ask, “Why is nighttime dark?” I don’t know why this is, but it’s an obvious pattern.

When Calfgrit7 was still a baby, before he could talk and ask questions, I vowed to myself that I would always try to answer my children’s questions. I would never shrug them off or wave them away. But I made that promise before I really knew what kind of questions kids would ask. And before I knew how many questions they could ask in a day.

I mean, take, for example, “Why does water put out fires?” Do you know why? If you do, can you answer it in a way that a 3 year old would understand? If it was just this one question, I could research the answer and tell him before putting him to bed at night. But a 3 year old can ask a dozen questions like this just on the drive to the store.

The main reason why I remember that one question above that Calfgrit7 asked when he was 3 (“Why is the sky blue?”) is because I actually did try to answer it when he asked. I happened to know the answer to that question: Because the molecules of nitrogen in the atmosphere scatter blue light waves more than they scatter other wave lengths of light. He paused a moment, as if to consider what I said, and then said, “Why is the sky blue?” I sighed.

I now understand why parents say, “Because it is,” and “Because I said so.”


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