Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Children grow up, questions grow harder
For a while, anyway, our children look to us for answers, consider us founts of knowledge.
All too soon, they realize that we are flawed creatures also, many of our answers actually insistent opinions.
The cracks are widening in the pedestal of wisdom I once stood confidently atop. So I don't like to hasten the fall by being stumped by questions to which I should know the answer.
"What was the War of 1812 about?"
Mind scrambles. Wasn't that the war that made Stonewall Jackson famous? No, no, Andrew Jackson. Isn't that the war when the British burned the White House? Isn't it the war no one remembers?
"I'm old enough to decide if I believe in God or not and I don't want to go to church."
I was caught off guard by the question and resorted to the "Tough, you're going!" non-answer.
I should have given a treatise on how going to church is not just about a belief in God, on how it's a commitment to community and fellowship and reaching out to help others less fortunate. How, if nothing else, an hour of quiet time a week is good for you.
"What is porcelain made of?"
I didn't know the answer, but I looked it up.
It's a type of pottery named by Marco Polo when he visited China. It's ground-up pieces of rock or minerals, mixed with a form of clay and heated to a temperature hotter than lava. Toilets are still made of it.
"How are the flames made on our new electric fireplace?"
Another stumper. I had to do a Google search to learn that the realistic flickering flames behind the glass are produced by a regular light bulb and refracted light.
Frequent questions I rarely can answer: Any sixth-grade math problem involving geometry.
"Why do grownups like different music than kids?"
Good one. It's true. I thought my parents the epitome of square when the voices of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Jim Reeves filled the house. Now I frequently seek out old Sinatra and Tony Bennett collections.
Will our girls one day be appreciate the music of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Van Morrison? I can only hope so because the pop music I am forced to listen to in the car sounds like the most insipid drivel ever composed. But then, that's what I once thought of "Old Blue Eyes."
"How come when we get in the car and we put the heat on full blast it's still cold?"
That one, I did know. Because heat comes from the engine and it has to be running for awhile.
"Why do I have to go to school?"
Because you need to learn things to survive on your own. If you don't buy that, the law says you can't drop out until you're 17. So suck it up.
"Why can't we have another dog?"
When you start being the first one up in the morning to feed our current two dogs, cat and guinea pig, clean the litter box and guinea pig cage, refill the water bowls and walk the dogs twice a day, then come back and ask me.
"Why do deer flip up their tails when they run?"
You came to the right place for that, my dear. Because deer, especially does, display the white undersides of their tails to alert their brethren to danger when spooked.
"Yuck, this movie is in black and white. We're not watching it."
OK, not a question but a stupid declaration that can't go unchallenged. Watch "Casablanca," "Citizen Kane" or "To Kill a Mockingbird" and consider the ignorance of that comment.
"Why do weekends go so fast and school days so slow?"
Believe me, for parents, the reverse is true.
"Why is One Direction so perfect?"