17 May 2016


So, the "dreaded questions" of parenthood- let's talk about those. They're the questions that many parents plan their answers for well in advance, while simultaneously hoping they'll never come up, because you know, it might be uncomfortable. Mothers and fathers alike might research, crowdsource their friends who have been through this, and mentally analyze every possible direction the conversation could go, only to be caught off guard with that very question they were anticipating and in their moment of panic, squirm and answer, "Go ask your father/mother!"

I guess you could say we encountered one of those over the weekend. The conversation went like this:

"When are you going to be a grandma and a grandpa?"

"When you have babies."

"I don't think I want to have babies."

"That's just fine. It's your choice. Don't let anyone tell you that you have to do something you don't want to do."

"How does a baby get out of your tummy?"

"Through your vagina."



"Oh. Did you know a zebra had a baby once?"

And that was that. All fifteen seconds of it.

Except- that wasn't exactly a dreaded question for me Our four-year-old is precocious and does well with our honest, accurate, and straightforward approach. She thrives on facts and repeatedly asks, "Tell me more about that," and, "Can we find a book about this?"

While this question didn't make me sweat, there are plenty of others that you might say I find difficult. They're the questions that leave me with a hollow pit in my stomach each and every time my daughter poses one to me. They usually catch me off guard, yet I've come to expect them, as they're the sort that are being asked more and more often.
Why don't girls do ___ at church?

What are they saying about Tamir? Tell me more about him.

Why are those people in boats? Why did they have to leave their houses? (After seeing photos of refugees.)

Why did that person hurt someone?

Tell me again why people didn't want Ruby to go to school there.

Can I walk away if someone says something mean to me at school?

Why was that man's friend killed? (Watching Ta-Nehisi Coates's book award speech.)

Why do some people hate other people?

I answer as best as I can, but the truth is, I don't have all the answers. I have mostly enough for now, but as she asks for more and more information, I'm finding myself coming up short. The deeper I get into the territories of hate and fear, the more I find myself trying to get a solid grasp on it myself.

When I don't know something, I tell her so. She will learn soon enough her parents don't know everything, but I never want to pretend I ever have.

So I tell her I don't know, but we can learn together.

I tell her I don't know, but keep asking.

Keep pushing.

Keep asking even when it seems there are no answers. Keep asking the hard questions, the ones others don't want to hear; the ones that some might dread. They only dread them because they lack understanding and perhaps a desire to understand and change.

They might try to make you question yourself, but keep going. Never forget that if it's important enough for you to ask once, it's important enough to keep pursuing.

Keep asking when the answers don't reflect truth. Never accept less than what is undeniably true.

You'll find your truth.

The questions you ask have the potential to bring about very real change. They can shed light on issues that have been pushed aside. You might lose count of how many times you have to ask, how many dead ends and closed doors you end up at, but never lose sight of why you're asking, of what you're after.  Your answers might come sooner, or they might come later, but your questions and the tenacity with which you chase them will make a difference.

As for me, as hard hitting and soul searching as these questions might be, especially considering they're coming from my preschooler, I'll take them over "where do babies come from" and "why is the sky blue" any day.

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