When your baby is tiny they ask no questions. As they grow into something slightly more human-like they begin to notice the inconsistent, confusing and weird world around them and look to you, their all-knowing oracle, for guidance and explanation.
Their first questions are like this; “Daddy, where is my foot?”
You say “oh my darling”, show them, maybe give it a little tickle, and feel smug that you know where all the major limbs are on a human body and they do not.
Then without warning, one day, while eating a Cruskit with peanut butter… “Daddy, what’s a soul?”
“Huh?” you say, spitting out the bit of Cruskit that you had fished up off the ground absentmindedly and popped into your mouth. And so it begins, the deeply humbling realisation that you know almost nothing about anything.
For the last few months I have been noting down the quite reasonable questions Monty has been asking me, questions for which a fully-formed adult human should have a reasonable response, and questions for which I have, unfortunately, been providing entirely half-assed answers. Here they are:
“Daddy, why does the teaspoon float on the water?”
“Well, you know it’s because the void space in the spoon is displacing more volume of water than, you know, it’s own volume. Yeah, so, surface tension. You know?”
“Daddy, how does a sleep apnea device work?”
“Well, it gives you more oxygen which helps you sleep.”
“How does that help you sleep?”
“Well, oxygen is pretty good isn’t it? I mean, particularly good for sleep right? So, that’s how it helps you sleep.”
“Daddy, what is that little plastic circle thing on your COVID mask?”
“It’s a filter.”
“What is the rest of the mask?”
“Oh, that’s also a filter.”
“Well, what’s the plastic bit for?”
“Um, that’s to get air in… or out.”
“Daddy, why are prawn tails good for chickens to eat?”
“Well, calcium. Yeah, it’s the calcium in the prawn tails and that’s good for chickens. Pretty sure that’s what it is.”
“Daddy, why are those clouds so low?”
“Umm, it depends on atmospheric conditions… you know, temperature, pressure and maybe, you know, altitude.”
“Daddy, why is the iced tea so foamy?”
“Well that’s because you shook it up and, umm, sent all the air bubbles out of it and, umm, into the foam.”
“Daddy, what’s that slippery ultrasound stuff for?”
“Umm, well, it helps the machine see through your skin I guess, or helps the wand slide back and forth. One of those… or both.”
“Daddy, how does a tornado get formed?”
“Low pressure. Yup, the low pressure forms a cone thing, with wind. And that’s a tornado.”
“Daddy, how do frogs breathe through their skin?”
“Well, it’s all about permeability isn’t it? Wait, frogs breathe through their skin?”
“Daddy, what was before the Big Bang?”
“Huh? … oh hey, do you want ice cream?”
More to come.
2 thoughts on “Half-assed answers to reasonable questions”
Oh do I feel for you mate! The latest cracker for me was last Friday when we were at the Maritime Museum and they had the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit. There’s a photo of a lioness, face covered in blood.
“Daddy, what’s all the red stuff on the lion’s face?”
“Ummm that’s blood … she’s just caught dinner”
“But why is she bleeding?”
Cue me wondering how far into the violent world of nature I should proceed.