frequently asked questions

There's not a day that goes by where Olivia doesn't amaze me in some way. I'm constantly in awe of how much she has picked up from both us and daycare; the latter of which has the most impact on her life due to how much time she spends there. She'll come home and start doing things like counting up to the number 20, telling us the words she knows that start with certain letters and reciting the entire 'Ezekiel 25:17' monologue from 'Pulp Fiction.' If I'm not mistaken, daycare is putting on a play based on the movie. She's got the menacing look down, but her jheri-curl could use some more work. 

I have to admit, I'm not really prepared for how quickly she's developing mentally. But then again, I never was around young kids very much and have no frame of reference for how quickly they develop. It's not that I don't want her to be incredibly smart or advanced for her age, but I had hoped that I had at least a little more time before she started getting into things like asking "why?" questions, dividing us so she can get what she wants and beating me in arm wrestling. She acts all cute and cuddly, but when she turns her hat around she means business. 

The questions thing is kind of a double edged sword. On one hand, it's so cool to see her trying to figure out the world that she's living in. You can see her making connections and practically hear the gears turning in her head while she's working them through. Again, I had no idea this would be happening at this age. A large part of me is so humbled to be in the presence of it all, because it's one of those things that makes you realize how incredible we are as human beings. And then there's that smaller part of me that is already starting to run out of patience, and answers, when she keeps piling on the questions. I do my best to answer her, but really there are only so many reasons I can come up with to try and explain why my shirt is blue today.

Her mind seems to be on overdrive these days, as she's asking questions about pretty much any and everything. We see a dog on the sidewalk:

O: What's that?

Me: It's a dog.

O: Where's the dog?

Me: Right there, in front of you.

O: Where's in front of you?

Sometimes it can even be as simple as a story we're reading for bedtime:

Me: Once upon a time, there was a girl who lived in the forest (book has an image of a girl standing in a forest)

O: Where's the girl?

Me: In the forest.

O: Where's the forest at?

Me: Right here. See the trees on this page of the book?

O: Where's the book at?

Location seems to be something of an interest these days, and it's getting to the point of where I'm about to bust out a map and give her the longitude and latitude to help her understand where something is. Jodi went out for lunch with friends recently:

O: Where mommy at?

Me: She's at lunch, with friends.

O: Where's lunch?

Me: In the city?

O: Where's the city?

Me: Northeast of here.

O: Where's northeast at?

Don't get me wrong, I think that these are fantastic opportunities for her to learn about spatial placement, where she lives and the locations we visit. But then again, how far do I go in explaining things before I've completely lost her and I'm exasperating myself for no reason? Other times, things just get absurd and we just don't know where to go with our answers. We were sitting down at dinner, when Olivia pointed to the word 'Bounty' on her paper towel/napkin:

O: What's this?

Jodi: It says 'Bounty.'

O: What's Bounty doing?

How do you even answer something like that? "It's sitting there, waiting to be ultra absorbent when you spill your drink?" Or, "It's wondering where the rest of the tree is that it came from. Does that other part make up something cool, like a desk or a chair, instead of being used to sop up whatever waste the human race has decided to throw at the trees this time?" Even better is when she asked about the picture of the frozen pasta on the box of the meal that we heated up for her:

O: What's that?

Jodi: It's pasta.

O: What's pasta doing?

Jodi: It's looking delicious.

O: Why?

At that point, I feel like we need to just give her the "Because" response and try to move on. Yet there are other times when she won't even take the answer we've given her. She'll just say "No" and keep asking the same question, as if she's fishing for the correct answer:

O: What you doing daddy?

Me: I'm checking my email.

O: No. What you doing daddy?

Me: Checking my email.

O: No! What you doing?!?

Perhaps there I was supposed to respond with, "Not paying attention to you?" The thing is, she knows a lot of the answers to the questions she asks. It's as if she just wants us to do the work for her, like when she wants us to carry her instead of walking on her own. To combat this, we've been trying to play dumb (which is not terribly hard for me) when she starts asking about things she already knows:

O: What color is that? (pointing at something green)

Me: Hmm, I don't know. Is it red?

O: Noooooo! It's green!

See? She knows what's up. And yet there are times when she just doesn't want to make connections because they don't work for her needs. When she wants to watch a cartoon I'll tell her, "Just one, then we turn it off. OK?" She nods and I re-confirm, "How many, Olivia?" "One, daddy," she says. I let her watch a show, but then when it's time to turn the TV off she gets upset. "I told you one and done," I say. She just rolls around on the floor, cries and then grabs her plastic Disney Princess phone to try and call Child Protective Services on me. Little does she know that I removed the SIM card from it a long time ago. I swear, you have to be 2 steps ahead of these kids sometimes.

In the end, some of these question and answer sessions lead me to places I never quite understand how I end up at. What can begin as an answer to, "Why is the man doing that?" can end up with me examining choices I've made or paths I've taken to get to where I am today. Sometimes I feel as though the knowledge I have about the world we live in isn't enough to give our child the info she needs. Maybe I need to go back to school to ensure that I can keep up with her inquisitiveness or to help her when she starts bringing homework back with her from school. Or, at the very least, just keep a lot of Louis C.K. knowledge at the ready: