Calvin & Hobbes, one of my favourite comic trips, waxes lyrical about life and existence amidst pretend play. I used to chuckle at how Calvin’s dad has to deal with endless difficult questions.
Then I became a mother and now I find myself in that position daily with a highly curious preschooler. When Caleb is not fighting Darth Vader and dashing about like Flash, he often lapses into philosophical moments.
Just this morning:
“Mummy, God made us for what?”
“He made us so He can have a relationship with us, like how Papa and Mummy want to spend time with you and talk to you.”
“How come we all die? I don’t want you to die!” he exclaims.
I explain the whole death issue… and know this is not over yet.
Last few weeks, he developed an interest in body parts:
“Why do we have a face?”
“Why must we have hair? For what?”
“How come our ears have no bones?
“Because it is made of cartilage. See? Isn’t nice that it is so bendable?” I said as I twisted his ear about.
“No, it isn’t. I want bone in the ear.”
“Go complain to God ok?”
Then, the questions about nature:
“What are trees for?”
“Why must we have water?”
And so on.
A few more weeks back, he pondered about marriage:
“Mummy, I want to marry you, but when you are young.”
It’s a Michael J Fox-as-Marty McFly in a Back to the Future movie moment for me. I explain how one day, he will grow up and meet someone he loves.
“I want to wear a suit like Papa in the (wedding) photo. Let’s make one now!”
“You will outgrow it by your wedding day. So, let’s wait till then before you make your suit.”
His mind wanders away from his wedding suit to the bride. “I know. I want to marry X.”
“That’s nice. Does she know?”
“I’ll tell her when we are in Primary one.”
“And I don’t want to drive to work next time. You send me.”
I tell him I am off-duty by then. If he doesn’t want to drive, he has to take a bus.
“I know. I will tell X to send me to work.”
I explain to him that marriage does not work as a dictatorship and you actually need to discuss things with your life partner and not make such unilateral decisions.
Then the questions about the people he sees, which he asks excitedly at the top of his voice:
How come that man has no hair?” He exclaimed.
“Ssh ssh..!” I explain social graces and how if he has burning questions about someone within earshot, he should whisper in my ear so it doesn’t offend the person in question.
And in the toilet:
“Hey, that auntie didn’t want hands after using the toilet!” He exclaims loud enough that everyone two floors up and down can hear.
I quickly squirrel him away to explain how some people have poor toilet habits. And since then, I notice every person who doesn’t want hands after using the loo and I shudder at how many there are.
“That uncle didn’t clear his tray!” He announced as the person table next to us gets up and walks out of Mc Donald’s.
Being a parent has been training me as much as I try to train Caleb. I have to learn to walk the talk and role model good behavior. And if I lapse, ever so often, I have a little voice in my ear (literally) who reminds me.
“You didn’t say Good Morning Kong Kong.”
“Oh…Good Morning Kong Kong.”
“No, you call him Papa. I call him Kong Kong.”
“Good Morning Papa,” I say dutifully to my dad.
“Good Morning Kong Kong,” Caleb says to his grandpa.
“Good Morning Daughter. Good Morning Grandson,” my dad chirps back on cue.
Then, we all tuck into Saturday morning breakfast where I get minutes of quiet time before Questions 101 start all over again.