Questions My Kids Have Asked That I Have No Idea How to Answer

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Sometimes my boys, ages six and three, ask hard questions. Not just questions about where babies come from, but questions I never could have anticipated or prepared for, questions that I either lack the expertise to answer or that lead me to unexpectedly dark places. I present five of these questions, in scenes.

Scene One

Amusement park, end of long day. Boy, age 6, sits on bench eating Dippin’ Dots, while Mom stands anxiously near him.

Six-year-old: (reads side of Dippin’ Dots bowl, tipping it dangerously) Ice cream of the future. How do we know the future will be in space?

Mom: Uh, we don’t. It might. People, for a while, thought that we might be able to live in space. So maybe in the future we would live there. And some people do live there right now.

Six-year-old: How many?

Mom: (thinks about International Space Station but confuses it a little with Biodome, the Pauly Shore film about living in a self-sufficient dome in the desert) Like, maybe five? Or seven.

Six-year-old: Why?

Mom: They’re just trying it out.

Six-year-old: Why?

Mom: Just in case things don’t work out on Earth.

Six-year-old: WHY WOULD THINGS NOT WORK OUT ON EARTH?!! (Dippin’ Dots scatter everywhere)


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  1. jane

    November 6, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I hope you’re haunted by Pete Seeger. That would be amazing.

  2. Ursi

    November 6, 2014 at 11:08 am

    This made me howl with laughter, I love your kids. “Pete Seeger will haunt us,” is the best thing I’ve ever heard!

    Man, I don’t even know what I’d say to the space question. I’m pretty honest with my little cousins, maybe a little too honest? Recently I had to field a question about whether or not Jesus can fly…

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      November 6, 2014 at 11:55 am

      …He can walk on water, so flying doesn’t seem that far outside of the realm of possibility? (Raised nominally Jewish–these sorts of things were never addressed by the family rabbi.)

    • Ursi

      November 6, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      The conclusion that seemed to satisfy was that he could if he wanted to… I guess? But he doesn’t because he doesn’t need to. I mean, the last thing I want her to worry about is Jesus zooming over her house with a jet trail or something. Kids are weird as hell.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      November 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      I now have tears of laughter rolling down my face from the thought of a Jesus jet trail. But yeah, kids’ fears are totally unpredictable. I spent years being terrified of the animatronic Abominable Snowman on the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland, yet I didn’t even blink at the spiders my mom freaked out over. Go figure.

    • Ursi

      November 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      Told my friend’s kid Yoda was in her basement. She cried forever. I thought she’d be thrilled! I’m the worst, I’m sorry.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      November 6, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      I’d have been thrilled! I think. Really, *kids* are the worst, because they’re just so unpredictable! :p

    • biggerthanthesound

      November 6, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      I’m an atheist, but I was fully prepared to answer any religious based question honestly and without bias as they came up. I did not; however, anticipate my 6-year-old asking me who Jesus was, out of the blue, in a crowded waterpark bathroom.

    • Ursi

      November 6, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      In my family, there are some hardcore Evangelicals. I swing more mainline Protestant and I adore Catholicism. So I’m definitely much less literal about it than those in my family with little ones so it’s always a weird balance. How can I word this in a way that won’t contradict something their parents believe that I disagree with? Never the big stuff of course. When one of the girls asked me if it would be weird if her boy doll wore girls clothes I told her frankly that some boys do and that’s A-OK. Her father can just deal with it.

    • Shadow

      November 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      Little girl in front of me in line at the grocery store the other day turned to me and said, “do you think it would be funny if an alligator and a monkey got married?” … Not knowing if this was going to end up being some kind of marriage equality question she would reference for the rest of her life or …something…idk… I tried to be as quick on my feet as I could and busted out with, “I think it would look silly..wait NO it’s perfectly okay if they’re in love!!!” Are these alligators or people we’re talking about???
      I just want to see an alligator in a top hat

    • Ursi

      November 6, 2014 at 12:56 pm

      hahahaha! That’s amazing!

    • Jayess

      November 6, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      Sure man. Didn’t you read at the end of Matthew? He went up to heaven IN A CLOUD, BRO. THAT IS FUCKING FLYING.

    • Allyson_et_al

      November 7, 2014 at 12:16 am

      You just reminded me of a song from when I was in college (late 80s/early 90s, God, I’m old) called “Jesus Was Way Cool”. There was something in there about how he turned water into wine, and could have turned anything into weed if he’d wanted to. Way cool, indeed.

    • Michael Weldon

      November 6, 2014 at 11:20 am

      Calvin had the coolest parents. Except when his dad went biking. Grown men and spandex are not a good combo. Ever.

    • LorraineGWilliams

      November 6, 2014 at 3:19 pm

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    • Spongeworthy

      November 6, 2014 at 11:44 am

      Note to self: take all my Calvin and Hobbes books back the next time I go to my parents’ house.

    • Samwisegamgeeeisthebesthobbit

      November 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Rock monster you just made my day! Calvin is my favorite of all time! Gonna go dig out some of my old ones out while kiddo is sleeping.


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      November 6, 2014 at 10:26 pm

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    • Rowan

      November 7, 2014 at 4:22 am

      I got a box set of the complete Calvin & Hobbes lately and it is my preciousssssss.

    • Bee

      November 6, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Ha! I thought of this too, love it. I also love when he convinces him that black and white photos are color photos of when the world was black and white 🙂

      My Dad gave me the full set of C&H for my last birthday, best gift ever!

    • Purple Smiley Hana

      November 7, 2014 at 6:53 am

      He he he he 🙂

  3. Grr! Arrgh!

    November 6, 2014 at 11:16 am

    But why *do* we?

  4. Libby13

    November 6, 2014 at 11:16 am

    So funny! It’s nice that you take the time to give lots of answers. If my first few answers are met with more questions, my go-to answer is, “That’s a great question. Let’s Google it later.” They usually forget and I’m off the hook. At least for a little while.

    • Ursi

      November 6, 2014 at 11:33 am

      off to Google “Pete Seeger haunting”, now I’M worried about it

  5. Kitsune (the other one)

    November 6, 2014 at 11:23 am

    oh my goodness. this article is freakin fantastic. I nearly spit out my sandwich at “why would things not work out on earth?!” I mean, what can you say to that? “Well, remember that Wall-E movie we saw that one time…”

  6. keelhaulrose

    November 6, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Big One heard the song “Criminal” by Britney Spears and I got a twenty minute interrogation as to how someone could love someone who breaks the law. I finally got it down to “You know how Daddy keeps getting traffic tickets? That means he broke the law and got caught. I still love him, even though he keeps getting traffic tickets.”

    That was a long, frustrating conversation, but not quite as much fun as having to explain to Husband why Big One said “Hi, Criminal!” as soon as he walked in the door.

    • rockmonster

      November 6, 2014 at 11:32 am

      Oh no. Haha!

    • jane

      November 6, 2014 at 11:56 am

      I kind of wish that you had just gone on with your day. You know, like that was what you _always_ called him when he wasn’t home.

    • keelhaulrose

      November 6, 2014 at 11:59 am

      It is his new nickname. And I have called it across a crowded party without thinking about it. Big One was so perfectly casual in the way she said it, like it was a normal thing, that it was almost obligatory to turn it into an everyday occurrence.

  7. Guinevere

    November 6, 2014 at 11:37 am

    I love this so much. Thank you.

    • Her Vajesty

      November 6, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      SAME, I’m glad I checked mommyish today. This was so fantastic.

  8. biggerthanthesound

    November 6, 2014 at 11:44 am


  9. NotTakenNotAvailable

    November 6, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Since this is all the evidence I need that kids are really just little stoners with slightly longer attention spans, maybe I’ll finally be able to relate to them! Though I don’t know how well the Mama Bears of the world would react to a red-eyed, giggling maniac…

  10. Katherine Handcock

    November 6, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    “Why do we.” LOL! My son’s equivalent was, “Mom, what’s that?” “Which that, honey? That can mean anything.” “THAT!”

  11. mamaduck_75

    November 6, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    “Where do we go when we die?” Tried to make it simple and get out of it by saying “Heaven. Wonderful happy place.” Her next question? “What about bad scary people?” Still dealing with my own spiritual issues, so just said “God has a reeeaaally long talk with them.” Hell, I know that’s not really adequate, but I’ll be honest that I just wanted to get out of that one. Still didn’t get me out, because next she asked “Where did God come from?”

    Why doesn’t my husband get these questions???

  12. meghanhere

    November 6, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    WHY WOULDN’T THINGS WORK OUT ON EARTH!??? That’s the best.

  13. Mollie

    November 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    This is one of the funniest articles I’ve read in a long time! I truly adore the fact that your 3 year old seems to be in mourning over Pete Seeger.

    My 6 year old recently became infatuated with how babies are made when she suddenly got scared that she might accidentally get pregnant. So we explained it all to her.

    Cut to her cousin asking her aunt a week later why she didn’t have any kids. 6 year old answers for the childless aunt “it’s because she didn’t accept the seed” 🙂

    • Ursi

      November 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Good on you for passing good info and calming her distress. I was in mortal terror of pregnancy after my mother told me God put the baby in you when you fell in love. AHHHH!

      As the childless aunt, I am happy to accept the “didn’t accept the seed” line. Yeah, I was like, thanks but no thanks, seed.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      November 6, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      I laughed my ass off and slammed the door in the seed’s face, threatening to call the cops on it for trespassing if it ever returned. That might be a bit much to explain to a 6-year-old, though.

      ETA that I now plan to use this explanation on the next busybody who asks me why I don’t have kids.

  14. LiteBrite(UterineDudebro)

    November 6, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    My son once asked me when I thought I’d be dead. He’s also asked how electricity gets from the poles to the house and why I don’t have a penis like him.

    A friend of mine gave me a good piece of advice: When a kid asks a question you don’t know (or don’t want to answer) just ask back “Why do YOU think that is?” The answers are usually just as interesting as the questions.

    • monamiemarie

      November 6, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      My annoying daughter just says, “I don’t know, why?”

    • LiteBrite(UterineDudebro)

      November 6, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      My son has done that too. That’s when I tell him to clean up his Legos.

  15. FishQueen

    November 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Why DO we?

  16. Tourmalily

    November 6, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Lol omg this was amazing

  17. ohladyjayne

    November 6, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    SO GOOD.

  18. SA

    November 6, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I started reading this with a mouthful of water. Not a good idea.

  19. Kate Leary

    November 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Thanks for reading and relating (and for all the fab gif ideas for the next one)! Sadly, these scenarios happen when I’m really making an effort. I’m more often heard saying, “Sorry. I’m not taking any more questions today.” Also, a brief Pete Seeger update: We learned recently that our 3yo seems to think he fell off a lilypad and died in the water. We believe he came up with this based on Froggie Went a Courtin’.

    • Ursi

      November 6, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      When I was a kid I remember thinking a lot of famous people died from drowning and/or getting caught in the whirlpool in the bathtub drain, no kidding, I have no idea what that’s all about!

  20. NotReallyCrazy

    November 6, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    We were driving past a cemetery one day when a funeral was going on & my boys asked me why the zombies were having a party. Um …. yea, no answer for that one.

  21. wmdkitty

    November 6, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    “Why *do* we?”

    …that’s a good question, kid. Why do we?

  22. LeggEggTorpedoTits

    November 6, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    That was hilarious and soooo friggin’ spot on! Especially the 3 yr old who is really only half involved in the conversation and is mostly just concerned with the immediate and most pressing issues: lollipop.

  23. Kite

    November 7, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Comedy gold! Can’t, um, wait for the comedy to start in my house when my toddler can string more than two words together.

  24. Rowan

    November 7, 2014 at 4:24 am

    Before I’d even had my cup of tea yesterday morning:
    “How fast does Usain Bolt run?”
    “How far do birds migrate?”
    “Do you know what an aglet is?”

    (google, google, random thing I happened to know)

  25. Guest

    November 11, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Dad has no right to criticize Mom in Scene Two, since he refused to take a stab at answering. Sheesh.

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