Unanswerable Questions

Why? Yeah, but why? What for?

Ben’s questions have gone beyond the “Why is the sky blue?” stage. Those were hard enough, but these days every query prompts a ten minute debate.

Question number one.

“Why isn’t it illegal to give children homework? When we get home we’re supposed to get a break from school work, not have to do even more.”

My first and most reasonable reply…

“It’s a chance for you to consolidate the work you’ve done at school, to make sure you’ve understood it; and it’s an opportunity for your parents to see what you’re doing in class and to help you with it.”

“Can’t they just send a note home to tell you what we’re doing in class?”

My next reply is influenced by two days of being incarcerated with sickness, two sick children for one day and one not-so-sick and increasingly demanding child for a second day.
It reveals that my patience has flown the way of my taut skin and boundless energy… it’s buggered off for good.

“For God’s sake, all you have to do is learn a poem. When I was your age (yes, I did say that) I had to learn poems off by heart and then write them down the next day at school, WITH ALL THE CORRECT PRONUNCIATION!”
(That’s true, I went to a very old-fashioned school.)

He grunted and asked me to test him on his poem.
He knew it, pretty much, so there was an end to our discussion.

Question number two, during a discussion about Jersey being a small island.

“What ISN’T an island? Everything’s surrounded by sea.”

Hm. I had to think about that one.

“You’re right, all the land is surrounded by sea, but a lot of countries are part of a huge mass of land and aren’t islands.
For example, France. There’s sea around some of it, but not all the way around it, so France isn’t an island.”

That isn’t much help to him as he’s still grappling with what a country is, as in –

“Is Scotland a country? What about Wales? Or Jersey?”

The answers to these geographical queries are so politically loaded I can’t betray my journalistic background, so my replies are peppered with qualifications –

“Well some people say rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb, while others think blah-di-blah-di=blah.”

That’s not much use to a child who wants proper right or wrong answers.

And it’s not just questions.

It seems there’s the New Puritan living among us, one who Calvin would be proud of.

The other day he said to Mike –

“Daddy, you know that wine you drink? You shouldn’t drink it every day.”

Where is Drunk Mummy when we need her?

About Beta Mum

Here you can find the ramblings of a trapeze artist turned journalist who ran away from the circus to join the BBC. Cathy "mine's a Kir Royale" Keir then spent thirteen years working in Jersey, Guernsey and Devon, before downgrading to what you see before you. She has contributed articles to The Guardian, The Stage and Television Today, Junior Magazine and both the BBC and Bad Mothers Club websites. She has two children who think women can’t be prime ministers. She blames herself.
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2 Responses to Unanswerable Questions

  1. Carter-Ann says:

    These are all very good questions. And answers.

  2. guineapigmum says:

    You have all my sympathies. I have to answer questions like this too. All the time. Constantly. And it’s very wearing. There was a period when I was desperate for the geography teacher to move on to something new, longest rivers or something. Have to admit, I’ve pretty much given up bothering even to reply to the homework one, though, beyond “Just get on with it”.

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