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.