It is guaranteed in our house that every day I will be asked a question. I have six boys and they are naturally curious. Because of their different ages, I will change how I answer their questions so they can better understand. That doesn’t mean I always get it right. I just try.
The other evening Dannan, our four-year-old, approached me with a very common question. “Mommy, what time is it?” I took a look at the clock and replied, “It’s 8 o’clock.” Dannan, sitting beside me on the couch, sat quietly for a minute before looking at me and said, “What does that even mean? Lunchtime?”
That should have satisfied him as I have often given him the time in response to this question, but today that wasn’t enough and I was suddenly forces to figure out what 8 o’clock means to a four-year-old. I guess it could mean lunchtime if it was in the middle of the day, but it was in the evening and close to bedtime. It is harder to know how to explain things to Dannan as some simple explanations are not enough for him and other days the answers go over his head. I do appreciate it when he presses for further information as it helps to know that he’s ready for a more challenging answer or that the answer was too advanced for his age. There is wisdom in letting people know that you didn’t understand something, which is why he’s picking stuff up so quickly these days. He’s not afraid to ask what something means… however this time when he asked, I was caught off guard. “What does that even mean?” was not the response I was expecting when I gave him an obvious answer.
For Dannan, it was time for a brief and simple lesson about time. He still looked puzzled but accepted that he was going to be late for bed if my explanation went on any longer. For him, he needed to know that this 8 o’clock was close to bedtime and when he asked what time it was at 1pm the next day, that it was one hour after lunch (Internally, I was begging him not to ask what an hour was). Since he understood that lunch was when he ate in the afternoon or that bedtime was the end of the day, he could accept that the time was before or after.
I’m waiting for the day when he stumps me. Each kid has found a question that I can’t explain for their age group to understand. His turn is coming.