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Kids' questions that keep you stumped

AT the dinner table as young children, we listened to my parents talking about a man they knew who had made a "boob" of something.

When my little brother started giggling, he was asked what was so funny. "Did you just say 'boob'?" he exclaimed giddily, before my parents explained that it was another word for a mistake.

Several nights later, in the bath together, my younger brother turned to my mum and asked her if "Jillian's mistakes" would be as big as hers when I grow up! (They aren't, in case you're wondering ... )

The "mistakes" story is one of our favourites, as it demonstrates a wonderful innocence teamed with a child's thirst for knowledge. As a parent, I try to jot down the curiosities my children come out with, in the hope that they will also be the subject of much laughter in the future.

Children are naturally curious about everything, and sometimes they throw the most bizarre questions at you that completely catch you off guard.

Given that my baby is not yet two, and my middle child is only three, it's my eldest, school-going boy who asks the toughest things. Thankfully his tender years allow for a bit of wiggle room for any less-than-scientific explanations I come up with.

In fact, it's the fact-based questions, such as, Why does it rain? Why is the sky blue? Where does snow come from? that are easiest to answer.

You don't need to be a science graduate to satisfy a curious child, but if you're unsure of anything, such as why the car windows mist up, you can always look up the answers online.

Curveball

Granted, scientific explanations are sometimes difficult to grasp, so website visuals can be a great help.

Other questions, such as which is the fastest animal? (the cheetah) or does anything eat whales? (great white sharks occasionally do) have presented learning opportunities for me, as I search National Geographic Kids.

It's fun to see the world through a child's eyes, and it also gives you a great perspective on things you've never really dwelt on.

Curveball questions I've had to field of late include, Who are Santa's parents? Why does Santa never die? and Where does the Easter Bunny get the chocolate from? Given the non-scientific nature of these inquiries, I've had to think on my feet to deliver plausible, credible answers. So far, so good.

Trickier

Where it gets trickier is when we come across moral questions. Such as, can boys marry other boys? Or where do babies come from?

As a parent it's important to offer an age-appropriate answer that won't confuse a child, but it's also important to remember that little people repeat things in school the next day.

While your number one concern should be answering your child as honestly or accurately as possibly, it's good to consider the environment they may be sharing their newfound knowledge in.

A perfectly innocent question stumped me recently. "Mum, what do girls use going to the toilet?" I proffered "bum", but my five-year-old argued that this was a different part of the body.

I racked my brains, but it seems there just isn't an acceptable term such as "willy", which is universally classroom - and parent - friendly.

So now I'm stuck trying to decide whether to use a silly made-up name. It certainly seems preferable to sending my child into school using the v-word.


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