Question Ration

Maybe you are one of those hyper-patient parents that field every question from your sweet angels with an understanding and thorough answer accompanied by colored illustrations, object lessons and a three act dramatization to ensure that every bit of doubt is completely obliterated in your child’s mind not only per their original inquiry but also about the absolute, undying interest you have in welcoming the curious mind of your offspring.

Me? Not so much.

I aim for monosyllabic responses. I try the reverse psychology thingy and thoughtlessly throw the question right back at them.  There are even times when I (hushed whisper behind the hand) ignore their incessant questions [gasp!]. I know. Just hand over the pink slip now. I have officially been served a dishonorable discharge from the ranks of the super-mom infantry. I am no longer fit to battle on the front lines of parenting. How dare I squelch their precious little wonderments!

So I hang my head and shuffle my feet out of that prestigious establishment to the street; kicked to the curb. That’s what I am. But, hey. What’s this? There is a street full of parents just like me. They’re sitting down at The Reality Cafe gabbing over fully caffeinated grandes coffees as black as they come. They are chatting as they linger by the bargain bins at the Get Your Grip Here discount store. And I finally realize, I am not the only one!

We’re good folk. We want to do right by our kids. We don’t want to mess them up… too much. Of course, since they are going to need to drop a pretty penny on therapy sessions anyway, why not make it worth their while, right? So, we read all the right books. We subscribe to all the right blogs. And we help each other out. We ask what has worked and hope for the best.

I find an empty seat and pop myself down next to the first person who makes eye contact with me. They ask me what got me kicked out. I tell them my sob story. After the compulsory pat on the back some suggestions come from one of the dads. We start a downright brainstorming session right there at the table. And I am feeling a bit better. I am feeling like I might actually be able to find some sanity in the midst of all this.

True story! Well, almost.  There was coffee. But there were no discharge papers. It was just me and my husband. The brainstorming session did take place, even though we were interrupted about eight times by, you guessed it, questions from the kids! He did the math. Averaging fifteen questions an hour per kid, we have five, during the awake hours when they are not in blessed dreamland which is roughly fifteen hours a day makes 1,125 statements that begin with Mama and end with a big fat question mark demanding a response of some sort from yours truly.

Want to know what some of the ideas were? Want to know what we came up with deal with the hundreds of questions that come flying at us like Nerf darts every. single. day.?

Ok. I’ll tell ya.

1. Change your name from Mama to an undisclosed code name. Change the code name daily.

2. Make them earn their answers. For every chore done off of a prominently posted list they can ask one question. Or better yet, flat out cash. A dollar a question.

3. Delegate all answering to the oldest child.

4. Rotate the answering of questions between carefully selected intimidating people like: the security guard at the bank on the corner, their school principal, or the dentist.

5. Ration questions., You get three a day. No more.

6. Make them whisper the question to themselves loud enough for themselves to hear it thus requiring themselves to think if themselves might actually be able to find an answer to that question for themselves.

7. All questions must be submitted in written form. Allow 7 to 10 days for a response. Answers NOT guaranteed.

8. Give them all a magic eight ball and tell them that you have full confidence that whatever answer the ball tells you is the one they need to hear at that moment.

9. Set up one of those cool clicky spinny things like they have on the game shows to have them spin for an answer.

10. Just say yes to everything.

11. Just say no to everything.

12. Duct tape.

You do understand that I love my kids. You do understand that most of the time I give them intelligent answers to their questions. And there are times when their questions amuse, challenge, astound and enlighten me. I don’t want them to stop asking questions. Questions are good, they help us learn, yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah. I get all that. It’s just that in those rare moments of solitude and silence a prominent thing that raises to the surface of my thankfulness tank is the fact that I am not required to answer any of my beautiful childrens’ fabulous questions.

And I just felt like you should know that today. Thank you.


20 thoughts on “Question Ration

  1. Um Ang, one question… how many questions do sisters get?

    I have a couple thoughts (of course, right?). One is maybe you should categorize or prioritize questions. Not you, but have a system and then ASK your kids to decide where there question falls on the scale before approaching you.

    Also, some questions (like those I can’t answer) maybe is a good time to learn research skills! I remember having a couple encyclopedias growing up. I know technology has condensed it, but I loved getting into those things and learning stuff about whatever topic I was interested in.

    Also, to not limit their questions too much, maybe you need just small windows of time strategically placed that you “take no more questions.” If they still want to ask it after the hour or whatever is up, all the better, it must be a good one, right? They could write it down until then. Maybe have a question/answer session where they all write down as many questions as they want and you try to answer as many as you can in a given amount of time.

    Okay, so you probably thought of all that with your brainstorming partner, but just my 2 cents.

    is that okay? (oops, another question)

    1. Further thoughts:

      I was just remembering that when we were kids sometimes when you asked Mom a question she would say, “Your brother just asked me that, but I’ll tell you the same thing…” So to avoid repeat questions you could have a FAQ board where the kid who asked the question posts the question and your reply and could be a first stop or at least an interesting stop before coming to you with more questions.

      Also, with the question/answer session you could answer questions at other times as such, “That sounds like a good question for questions/answer session (or whatever cute name you give it), you should write it down and share it then.” These sessions then provide a place where the other kids can help answer questions, not just you.

      If you get organized and make a more regimented questioning procedure this may not only help you in answering them, but if the kids have to work harder to get there answers they will ask less of them and hopefully naturally edit out the bad ones or use their research skill to answer it on their own.

    2. Wow, you have some great ideas. Can I hire you to come and implement some new policies around here!? Aunty Em’ comes to clean house! Ha!

  2. I can totally relate to your feelings, having raised the five of you, plus. Especially vivid to my recollection is the feeling “If I hear the word MOM one more time…!!!”
    And I turn to my child rearing motto, yet again…”This too shall pass”. And it does, things are really quiet on that front these days.
    Shawn did call the other day to ask for help with her sewing machine! That was fun.
    I love all of the ideas from the brain storming session. Could have used some of those “back in the day”!

    1. Mom, I thought of you often as I wrote this. I am sure I caused you a load of grief “back in the day”. :-) I specifically remember you telling me quite often, “That sounds like a perfect question for your dad.” So at bedtime when he would come to pray with us I would download my list of questions. I love your parenting motto.

  3. I sometimes just tell them that my ears are full and they will have to wait until later. It has worked on occasions.

    I liked your ideas, though.

    The problem with answering questions in detail is that it generates about fifteen more questions.

    1. Ellie, I can hear it now, the kid asks a question and you just start beeping like the electronic sound when a voice mail inbox is full. Great idea… my ears are full. And you are so right; more info leads to more questions. I am a fan of short answer for that very reason. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Oh ya! I think I’ve seen you at the curb.

    Great ideas. I love the questions that start with Mom, Mom, Mom…Um, I can’t remember. Or the ones that repeat themselves four times before completion. I usually go with no to everything. They do get much better as they get older, hang in there.

    1. Oh, those are the best questions: Mom, Mom, Mom…Um, I can’t remember. With the complimentary pat on the leg keeping time with the number of times mom is repeated before complete forgetfulness sets in and they are just happy to have your undivided attention for that split second.

  5. 13. “Go ask Daddy?Mommy” or if you are lucky enough “Go ask Grandpa/Grandma”
    14. “I don’t know, here’s a cookie.” Although while this may gain you points in the good mommy department it will likely lead lead to even more questions in hopes of a reward.

    Duct will work but might gain you points in the bad mommy department, and a vist from child welfare serivces.

    I think you are just stuck. Quiet and peace are two words that you won’t find in any Parenting guide.

    Never having been a parent I really can’t offer any advice, as I sit here in my quiet, peaceful, condo.

    1. “I don’t know, here’s a cookie.” Perfect.
      Your duct tape comment reminded me of the image I am sure you have seen somewhere on the internets before:

      Makes me laugh every time!

  6. This post made me smile, and laugh, and nod with understanding!! And I’m only fielding questions from two little ones… so I can’t begin to imagine!

    One thing I know for sure… you’re a fabulous mom!!!

    1. Aw, well aren’t you nice. :-) Thanks for the kudos. You are a fab mom too, Amy. Oh, and you absolutely made my day telling me that this made you laugh.

  7. 15 – Superglue Lip-Balm.
    16 – Sound activated explosives.
    17 – Helium atmosphere so their voices are so high that, whilst they can hear each other, you can’t hear a word!
    18 – Bungee cords so they have to take a run up and put in the effort for each question.
    19 – Wear stilts to get above the pestering mites.
    20 – Encourage “Fathers take their kids to work” days.
    21 – Buy the stickiest toffee you can find.
    22 – Buy a NASA surplus spacesuit and live in a vacuum.

    1. Something tells me you have experience in the kid department, Tim. These additions made me smile :)

      I like the stickiest toffee idea best. Though you probably meant it to stick in the kids’ mouths I think I would use it for me to have a legitimate excuse to absolutely be unable to answer their questions… plus it is yummy!

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