As a parent, you just have to get use to that line of questioning. Children have inquiring minds. They want to know why…a lot. Why do clouds float in the sky? Where does the wind come from? Exactly why can’t you eat ice cream for breakfast?
It’s all too easy to ignore or deal flippantly with those kinds of questions, especially when I usually don’t know the answers to many of them. As Missy gets older, she just needs to know some things, and as the responsible parent, it’s my wife’s job to answer them! Haha, just kidding…actually, no I’m not. My wife knows these things, or is smart enough to give an appropriate answer. Me, I usually go for distraction:
“Daddy, why is the sky blue?”
“Well dear, it’s because…HANG ON! Is that an ELEPHANT over there??”
Yep, that never actually works, Missy is too old to fall for that one.
Having a child is a bit like going through a life rewind, without the school exams. Missy is seeing and experiencing multitudes of things for the first time, and as a parent, I get to experience the wonder of watching her see them. It would be a tragedy to become distracted and let that amazement pass you by. Getting myself on an impossibly small train at the zoo can either be an annoying 10 minutes with my knees up around my ears, or it can be a remarkable moment between Missy and I – watching her whoop with raw, simple delight.
I have to admit, it was my wife that clued me into being more present to my daughter, and I certainly am not 100% of the time. But I try and remember to look past the adult hum-drum of some parts of daily life, and see them through wide and enquiring eyes.
Waving at strangers from the bus – especially if they wave back – is a pleasure Missy loves. I now love it too. I love it for the joy and giggles a returned wave elicits. And when they don’t wave, Missy and I look at each other and screw up our faces. “Boring person”, we say to each other with a giggle.
The Zoo, or indeed any outing, becomes less about crowds and the traffic there and back, and more about animals seen for the first time outside a storybook. Imagine it – a giraffe! A huge, gangly animal, and look, an impossibly long neck! And are they horns on its head? Oh the marvel of it!
I try and not take that fascination and overlay it with my adult logic. “Yeah, yeah, so it’s a lion. C’mon, let’s get a move on – the queue at the kiosk isn’t getting any shorter”.
I don’t always succeed, but that’s not the point. The aim is to try and see things the way Missy sees them.
Imagine if while at the zoo, you came across a living, breathing dinosaur, (hopefully in a cage). I, for one, would be gobsmacked. For Missy, a penguin is just as exciting, as is a construction crane on a building, a fire engine and even just a simple autumn tree.
Missy can stand in awe at the most mundane things. I don’t want to miss out on that moment because I’m thinking that those damn autumn leaves are a pain to rake up.