The Wordsmythe's Weblog…

…On Words, Love and Life

Lessons I learn from my kids (1): Ask questions

I took my boys, WEO who will be 5 next week and three-year old EDU, to Shrepreth Wildlife Park a couple of weeks ago. It was the Friday of the half-term week. I hadn’t really done anything with them as I’d been working the whole week so this was our special thing to do together.

From a previous visit to another wildlife park, I knew that once the boys got tired from walking around the vast grounds they would want to leave irrespective of how much there might be left to see leaving me seething about all the money wasted on tickets. So to avoid that scenario, I came prepared with their scooters so they could get around the park  on wheels.

We had a really nice time guessing what the animals were and what kind of things they eat. The boys particularly enjoyed the train ride and the Adventure playground which featured swings, sand pits, climbing frames, a tree house, a zip wire and a pirate ship. We took along a picnic and the boys had their fill of sandwiches and all the other nibbles we’d packed.

There were some special experiences to get up close and personal with the animals from kissing a bug *yuck* to mucking out the lemurs but I wasn’t willing to pay any extra besides the cost of the entry and train tickets so we didn’t see any of them. We were walking past the rabbits’ enclosure and noticed two little girls in it, stroking the animals. I was content to walk past assuming they had paid extra for the ‘experience’ of getting so close to the animals till WEO asked why the girls were in there. Now WEO is not known for using his ‘inside voice’, he can be rather loud so the girls heard his question.

I proceeded to answer by saying they’d probably paid extra to go into the rabbits’ enclosure and tried to hurry them away from there before he asked me to pay so we could go in too. One of the girls promptly piped up that they hadn’t paid any extra. She informed us that anyone could go in and stroke the rabbits. I looked around to see if there were any signs letting the general public know this but couldn’t find any. By this time, WEO was already letting himself in so I quickly followed looking around surreptitiously to make sure we would not bear the brunt of some aggrieved warden’s wrath. It turns out that it was open to the public as several more people came in while we were there.

Now, left to me, we wouldn’t have had the ‘experience’ of getting so close to and actually touching the rabbits (or the boys wouldn’t as I didn’t actually touch them). I would have worked on my assumption that it required extra payment and probably wouldn’t have confirmed my assumptions by asking.

Even those who have very little to do with children know that they tend to be extremely inquisitive and are constantly asking questions. My kids are no exception. Very soon after mastering the art of speaking, the word ‘why’ became a firm favourite and it made an appearance every turn. I usually try to answer their questions to the best of my knowledge and ability but have to admit that sometimes I just revert to the good old “because I said so”.

The older we get, the more reticent we get about asking questions. Our reasons may vary from person to person and range from embarrassment at admitting we don’t know something to simply not being bothered or curious enough. Unfortunately this reluctance to ask questions often leads to many a misunderstanding and in some cases prevents us from experiencing life to the full.

That Friday, I was reminded that it’s ok to ask questions if I don’t know or am not sure about something. I may actually learn something new.

Tara for now.



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14 thoughts on “Lessons I learn from my kids (1): Ask questions

  1. Amazing how we lose that ‘fearlessness’ as we grow older. Children just go for it. In some ‘restricted societies’, WEO would probably have been told off for being too forward!

    I ask a lot of questions (some of them even make me – the speaker – embarassed, but alas, it’s too late to take them back!). How else will you learn?

    I am also a firm supporter of curiosity in children. Within reason, of course….

    Great post.

    • Trust me, GT, I feel WEO is too forward sometimes but I restrain myself from acting on those feelings and instead just try to guide his questioning to ensure he stays within the boundaries of courtesy.

  2. I think the fear of asking questions is culturally influenced. I remember growing up in Nigeria and been made to feel that adults were never questioned, no matter what. You did what adults told you to do and that was it. The “Why” was like a taboo of some sort. And other times, when you asked, you were made to feel like a smart Alec, or an “I-too-know” kind of person, and people taunted you for this. Having lived outside of Nigeria now for years, I am still in the process of debunking that terrible habit of not asking questions…It’s a daily lesson to accept the fact that it’s okay to be ignorant sometimes, so long as you make a conscious effort to gain knowledge on those things in which you are oblivious.

    • Lara,

      I understand perfectly. As a child, I had my lips pinched quite a few times for asking questions or saying things which were on everyone else’s minds but no one was bold enough to say.

      Sometimes, even now, as a grown woman, I find myself holding back from questioning for fear of being called ‘too forward’.

  3. Joxy on said:

    Nice one Nkem. Thank God for our kids eh? What Lara said is so true….

  4. Aggie on said:

    Very true indeed Nkem, I always remind my loved ones, those young and old, ask questions, voice your doubts and your curiosities. Very often many are thinking the same question but do not ask for fear of appearing ignorant, disrespectful or contrary. Alhough it is very prevelant in African cultures it is equally prevalent in Western cultures – in a meeting at work you can be sure that when a question pops into your mind, someone else is asking the same question (internally off course). I am known as ‘brave’ at work because I ask questions and seek clarity – really??? that would not be my definition of brave. Nice post Nkem, bless the young ones, I wish we could all have their innocent honesty and curiosity.

    • Thanks Aggie.

      Hopefully we well continue to be ‘brave’ in our quest to understand things better.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking time to write a response to the post. Really appreciate it.

  5. Your kids sound so cute
    I agree we do grow more reticent as we grow older. However, I used to be a very shy child and this changed after I had kids.
    Looking at life through a confident child’s eyes has made me realise that ‘who dares wins’

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. I’ve popped your blog on my blog list so I’ll be back

    • Hi NIL,

      Thanks for the compliment. My kids can be cute but they also have their moments! I’m glad you’re getting bolder with as you grow older.
      It was a pleasure being your blog and I will definitely return.
      Kind regards

  6. Great post as usual. I agree with Lara. There’s something to be said for cultural influences in the reluctance to ask questions. My kids are definitely very curious and always ask questions. I certainly don’t try to dissuade them from asking although sometimes they receive delayed answers. lol

    • Thanks dear. Culture does play such a large role in how we turn out but hopefully we can shed the negatives of ours and embrace the positives of others.
      I understand the delayed answers strategy totally! 😮

  7. I love that quote…

    I’ve always loved the inquisitive nature of children…I believe it helps their learning, and even though it can sometimes be annoying, I think it should be encouraged…

    As for us adults, we sometimes need a childlike spirit….

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