Little people are notoriously inquisitive, from the age of two to five my son has bombarded me with questions. At least 1000 daily. I wish the answer to everything could be kittens, or 12. I think on average the most common query, always asked in a high pitched whine is, ‘are we there yet!?’ Closely followed by, ‘What is the dark made of? Why are you so old? Why do I have to do to school? Are aliens real?’
The most beautiful enquiry came last Wednesday, ‘Why is love called love?’ The hardest one being, ‘Where is your daddy?’
At 5am I have had a little finger lift up my eyelid (not cool) and an even littler, whispery voice utter, ‘mummy why does a carnivore only eat meat?’ It’s like I am living on a gameshow. You may sometimes pick diversionary tactics. ‘Let’s ask nanny.’
Below are my top three conundrums so far:
Why is the sky blue?
I went with what I thought was whimsical creative response. ‘Because the sky knows blue is your favorite colour’. Little man gave an exasperated sign and replied, ‘My best is purple’.
Thwarted I bundled him into my arms and went into the garden, I asked, ‘where does light come from?’ He answered with all the conviction of a 5 year old, ‘sun and lightbulbs’. I clumsily explained that light is made up of lots of colours and it travels in a wave (then did wave disco-move hand gestures). He raised an eyebrow. ‘More blue light gets broken in the air because of dust in space so it bounces round and gets into your eyes.’ I don’t as an adult quite get it myself as you may be able to tell.
They take in a lot more than you would think, our little sponges. The other day I told Leo I loved the long white clouds that airplane’s leave behind and he said, ‘I think you mean contrail mummy.’
What happens when you die?
This was a real focus a few months ago for my son and will be for most children at some point. He started asking ‘when are you going to die and what is dying?’ I responded with lots of cuddles and reassurance.
Avoid using phrases like dying is ‘going to sleep’ as your children will likely never go to bed again. It is totally ok to say, ‘that is a really good question do you mind if mummy thinks about that and we talk about it later’. I kept it quite simple and said life has a beginning, being born and an end when you die. Like a story.
Our cat passed away and I explained that nanny buried her and we could put flowers on the grave. Nanny said she went to heaven and then Leo was looking in the sky to see if he could see her. I am not particularly religious but I like that explanation for a child. We watched the Lion king where Mufasa was in the clouds. If you’re of the scientific orientation you can explain we turn into trees or flowers. I made sure to give a clear explanation that the cat died because she was very old, that gave my little man reasoning why it happens.
Halfway through crying after being told he suddenly stopped and asked if he could play Mario cart. Children’s emotions and response are not the same as adults. He has now moved forwards to asking when I die, can he have my I Phone.
Where do babies come from?
Oh. Dear. You panic look at your partner. The first time I made a flippant witty panic comment about a stork and listening to Barry White music. Don’t go for humor it causes confusion and bad bird associated dreams. Joking aside, I think it is important to reassure your children that they can ask questions and they get an honest, if sensitively phrased answer.
Are the eggs in mummy’s tummy the same as we get from the shop in box?
My safe option was daddy’s gives mummy a seed that finds an egg that grows in mummy’s tummy. Though little boy then asked how the baby gets in mummy’s’ tummy, *hmm* I went with special cuddle which was followed by a smile and him informing me he knew where the baby came out *I paused* Your belly button mummy and you make a sound like a chicken when you lay the baby egg’.
I am not a prudish type and I think being an open parent and not being afraid to discuss sex with Leo is important, the more awareness the more control and confidence you have. We do discuss private areas and body parts, we chose willy and ladybird instead of penis and vagina, well I did describe it as ‘ladies bits’ but Leo misheard and said ladybird and it just stuck. Leo had a lisp for a couple of years so couldn’t pronounce P. When he is a bit older we will call them by their names to lessen any sense that sexual topics are off-limits and embarrassing.
But for now he is five and simple will do.
Do not panic my fellow parents, there is always Google.