Don’t Just Ask


It’s rumored on the Internet that the average four-year-old asks 437 questions per day. I have a four-year-old, and that number seemed low to me, so I decided to count for myself. The other day as we pulled out of the garage, I took note of the time and started counting.

Why do pigs eat slop?

How does coldness turn water into ice?

Can we get an iguana?

Why not?

Does heaven have air?

Do harpoon makers make small harpoons for kids?

What are those red things on top of chickens’ heads and under their chins for?

Why does the word carpet have a car and a pet in it?

Are there bilge ducks, too, or just bilge rats?

Can God see inside and outside buildings at the same time?

How do T. Rex’s tails help them balance?

Thirteen minutes and 27 questions later we had arrived at our destination. I’ll let you do the math on that one, but it’s probably safe to say that at that, yes, he probably asks 437 questions a day.

And he expects an answer—a satisfying one—to each one.  He relentlessly hounds whomever he is questioning until one is delivered. “Well, can you find out? I need to know! Can we ask an expert?”

This little experiment made me wonder: Do adults have as many questions as four-year-olds? For the rest of the day I was keenly aware of my own questions—mostly unvoiced, but questions nonetheless.

Where did I put the field trip permission slip?

Why can I remember the lyrics to the songs from my fourth-grade musical (“It isn’t hot in the furnace, man, that furnace is cool, cool, cool!”) but not where I put the field trip permission slip?

Why don’t Honest Kids drink pouches have a hole for the straw?

Whose turn is it to set the table?

Did the words “Please take your sock off the toilet flusher” really just leave my mouth?

What is a more helpful response to someone’s crisis than “Let me know if I can do anything”?

How can I best help my kids learn gratitude?

Where is the unceasing public outrage for human trafficking?

Why does mercy triumphing over judgment look like? And why does mercy too often unsettle us more than judgment does?

Evidently I have just as many questions as my four-year-old. The difference: he pursues answers even to the trivial ones, and I too seldom pursue answers even to the non-trivial ones. They are transitory, too quickly fading away as I turn my attention to less important matters.

That’s not good.

What important questions do you have?

Let’s go find some answers.


21 thoughts on “Don’t Just Ask

    • So true. Those are often the most important questions, but they’re the hardest ones to ask–discouraging when they lead to conflict instead of answers!

  1. But but but . . . DO harpoon makers make small one for kids??????? I really have to know. I’m gonna google it . . . (brief pause) so it appears that no, they don’t small ones for kids. Largely because the harpoon is shot out of a machine thingy now a days. There is, however, a band called Kid Harpoon. So there ya go!

    • Valuable info! I will pass it on to the four-year-old who, I am sure, would claim to be old enough and big enough to wield a standard-sized harpoon . . .!

  2. Love this! When my daughter was young, we used to joke that her eyes and voicebox were connected: If she was awake, she was talking… and, yes, asking questions. Fast forward to almost age 18 and nothing has changed!

  3. So my Comment left here on the page is: Ace or Sonny are both asking some highly intelligent questions and the answer of “Because there are buttons on your underwear” serves as a spec of quiet for me to stop and formulate some answers……

    • I told him that they were there to look pretty to other chickens. (I did not want to have to answer questions about what “finding a mate” meant.) Turns out (according to Wikipedia) that they also serve as radiators for the chickens, as chickens neither pant like dogs nor sweat. Who knew? The things you learn when the four-year-old demands that you ask an expert! (Does Wikipedia count as an expert?)

  4. I love this post! It is so true that our heads are as busy as theirs. We just don’t say stuff out loud. And then we wonder why no one is helping is out. Could be a great new technique for getting others to get stuff done! 😉

    • Thanks! Maybe we should all dedicate a day to asking each question that floats through our heads–our heads (and those of our listeners) would probably be spinning at the end of the day, but maybe we’d get some answers. 🙂 (And a little help while we’re at it!)

  5. If we all kept that willingness to question everything, I think we would have a better world. Instead, we pretend we know what we need to and we are too tired (or jaded or arrogant or _____) to seek the real answers.

  6. My son is the same – question after question. Quite often I refer him to his dad. Which begs the question WHY don’t I know?
    His questions aren’t quite so exciting though…

  7. If I don’t have a good answer it’s a great opportunity to promote reading a book to find the answer. It has yet to work. But one day they’ll have me drive straight to the library. I know it. 🙂

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