Twenty Thousand Questions


I played Chiron Beta Prime (one of my new favorite Christmas songs!) for the twins the other night. They enjoyed it, both for the catchy tune and the entertaining lyrics. I had to explain what robot overlords were, but other than that they picked it up right away.

Several hours later, well removed from the context of listening to the song, Tyler began asking me questions about it. A lot of questions. She’d been mulling over the song, and decided she really wanted to know why the robot council had evicted the family. Why did they want someone to come rescue them? Just what were the robot overlords doing to them?

I should point out that Tyler does the same thing during movies. It’s nearly impossible for her to watch a movie without asking at least a dozen questions. Most of the time, the questions she asks will be answered as the movie develops, and we keep trying to explain this to her (“Just watch! The movie wants to tell you everything you need to know.”). Occassionally she’ll ask a question that’s well beyond the scope of the story being told. Answering these questions – even if just to say “don’t worry about it” – almost always makes Tyler miss the next bit of the movie, which results in more questions, ad infinitum.

It was a bit exhausting, having to deflect this recent barrage of questions. I found it hard to explain to Tyler that sometimes things can be funny – or entertaining – without knowing all of the details. It’s fun all by itself to hear a Christmas song about robot overlords, and we don’t need to know all of the particulars about those overlords in order to enjoy the silliness of the song. One’s imagination can fill in the missing pieces in whatever way one chooses.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled that Tyler is able to think about these things in such depth. She’s clearly processing the information that was presented to her, and she wants to know more. That’s exciting, and very satisfying to me as a parent.

I got some small bit of turn-around on Tyler the other day at the oral surgeon’s office. She’s going to have some baby teeth removed, and we were required to fill out a lengthy personal history for her prior to our initial consultation visit. I asked Tyler every question on the form, even though I knew all of the answers. It was quite a moment, sitting in the waiting room with the other patients, asking Tyler things like “Do you you now, or have you ever had a stroke? A heart attack? Liver disease?” Tyler’s look of incredulty when I asked “Are you pregnant? Are you nursing?” was indescribably funny. I took a sidelong glance at a few of the other folks in the waiting room, and had to suppress a giggle as I saw the smiles creeping onto their faces.

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