Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mommy, Where Does Dirt Come From?

It's endless question time again here at Chez Twins.

Every book or TV cartoon with a bad guy prompts queries from Thing 2: "Is he bad? Is she bad?" "Why are Cinderella's stepsisters bad?"

Thing 1 just wants to know random things that occur to him to ask in the course of the day, as in the above "where does dirt come from?" question.

The earthquakes we've been having have prompted questions too. But explaining tectonic plates or earth's hot molten core to four-year-olds is beyond me. Believe me, I've tried.

On the one hand, I'm happy for the questions. It means all these excursions we've been taking the kids on lately -- to the Children's Garden at the Huntington Library, Gallery and Botanical Garden, or the Griffith Observatory -- are sparking their inquiring minds.

On the other hand, by the twentieth question of the day -- "Mommy, what color is turquoise?" -- I get a little testy.

The "where does dirt come from" question came in the midst of a particularly tense drive to preschool, after Thing 1 had thoroughly exasperated Late Blooming Dad by taking what seemed like an hour to get dressed in the morning. (He had more wardrobe changes than Hillary Clinton owns pantsuits). Every request was met by dawdling, refusal, or selective hearing. The get-ready-for-school routine had ended in dad throwing the toothpaste tube so hard at the bathroom floor the cap cracked. So much for modeling good behavior, right? That's what I thought, but of course minutes later, in the car, when Thing 2 began to get in on the acting up act, fighting with Thing 1 over possession of a stray toy race car found between the car seats, I blew my stack and yelled at both children. I concluded my tirade with a demand that we ride to school in silence. "But I don't wanna be quiet," Thing 1 began to whine ... a whine that continued incessantly through much of Olympic Boulevard all the way to the turn at 20th Street. That's when the sight of construction workers on the job at a new building prompted the "dirt' query.

It was a thoroughly innocent question.

But I was still royally pissed off, and heard myself, in a kind of out-of-body experience I find myself having more and more often, yelling in response: "We're being quiet! I said we're being quiet! We're being quiet till we get to school!"

I might as well have stamped my feet and burst into tears. I sounded utterly ridiculous, especially for a forty-something adult who ought to be in possession of at least a modicum of self-control.

I let the four-year-olds turn me into a four-year-old.

But after the morning their Dad and I had with them, I just couldn't answer one more question.

Now that it's after nine at night a few nights later, and it is, in fact, quiet -- not a sound is coming from their room -- I'm hoping next time, I'll be more patient, and tolerate, if not exactly treasure, all this insatiable curiosity, which is, of course, a thing to be nurtured, at least when I'm not at wit's end from dealing with it. And I'm all of a sudden wondering, where does dirt come from, anyway?

POST-SCRIPT: The day after I wrote this, I was driving the kids home from preschool when Thing 1 uttered yet another hard question to answer: "Mommy, why does Grandma like poker?" I'll leave this one to Grandma, AKA She-Who-Is-To-Be-Feared-At-The-Vegas-And-Atlantic City-Texas Hold 'Em-Tables, to explain to him some day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...