It was quiet in the car. We had just left church and C was sitting in the back seat all alone. Some of our best conversations happen when I least expect it and tonight was no different. After a few moments of silence, C pipes up, “Mommy, how do fish breathe underwater?”
I should mention that C often asks me questions that I honestly don’t know the answer to. Some of the questions I should be able to answer. Some I learned long ago and forgot. Some are too complicated to explain to a five year old, and some questions just make no sense, and therefore are unanswerable.
I learned long ago that my kids don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer, after all I am mommy, and I should know everything. So somewhere along the way my default answer during those scenarios became “Because God made it that way.” They usually find that to be an acceptable answer at the time and often offer that answer if they see I am struggling with a particular question.
But tonight I was a little excited, after all, I was pretty sure I could carry my own in a conversation about fish with my five year old for at least a few minutes.
I started simple, “Well, fish don’t breathe air like people do. Fish have things called gills. Have you ever heard of gills before?”
“Yes, I have!” She exclaimed from the backseat.
Piece of cake, I thought to myself. But it was at this moment that the conversation spiraled out of my control.
“Yes! My friend Kaia has a brother and her brother ate something he shouldn’t have eaten and then he grew gills!! Now he can breathe underwater!!!”
At which my answer was, “Ummm… Have you seen them?”
“No, I haven’t. But he ate the stuff that makes people grow gills!”
“People don’t grow gills, honey, and if Kaia’s brother has actually grown gills he might want to see a doctor about that,” I joked.
There was a pause. “Well Kaia never mentioned that he went to the doctor. Why would he go to the doctor?!?!”
At explaining again that people don’t actually grow gills, I decided to deflect the conversation to something else, like promising her a banana when we got home. This worked only momentarily as she moved onto asking about what the insides of bones look like, what color is bone marrow, and is there red blood in it. Thankfully we pulled up to the house shortly after that.
Little did I expect to be back into verbal and mental battle so quickly, but C wasted little time before striking again with her queries. I crawled into bed with her as is our routine. After a slight pause she whispered, “Excuse me mommy.” She knew it was quiet time, so I figured she must have something very important to ask me if she was willing to speak up at the risk of getting in trouble.
“Can porcupines breathe underwater?”
“No, they can’t,” I whispered back.
“Do they have lungs?”
“What color are they?”
“I don’t know.” I answered. (It was a rookie mistake, I know.)
“I think their lungs are black.”
“I doubt they are black,” I responded.
With full certainty, she turned to me and said, “Well, if they eat all those cigarettes then their lungs are going to turn black.”
She wins, I thought as I chuckled and gave her a kiss goodnight. Try as I may, I can’t follow her logic sometimes, but that’s ok. Her mind is running a million miles a second and she’s trying to make sense of the world she lives in. Sometimes those questions and answers misfire and that’s ok too. For my part, I will give her the answers I do know, entertain the answers she thinks she knows, and try to discover the correct answers with her along the way.
Baby E has discovered phones.
Tim and Big E had their own moment this evening. Big E was playing outside on his bike while Tim ran inside to get something. There were other adults outside watching the kids (the neighbor kids were out playing to0) and one of our neighbors warned Big E not to drive his bike past a certain car in the parking lot because it would put him too close to the road. Big E got quiet, thought for a beat, and said very earnestly and politely something along the lines of, “I’m not trying to mean, but I just wanted to say that you’re not my daddy.” After that he rode off, staying well within the area the neighbor told him to. That’s the funny thing about Big E… a man was talking to him like Tim would, but Big E was worried that this man might not realize that he isn’t his dad, so Big E needed to clear up the confusion! But that is one of the hallmarks of Big E- He is a polite kid. He is kind, sweet, and honest. He says Please. He says Thank You. And don’t be surprised if you get an unsolicited I love you from him.