My brothers and I were spending a few days with Uncle Wayne and Aunt Barbara at their house in Mississippi. It was amazing. They gave us so much freedom. We had acres of land and clay to explore, four wheelers to ride, and a buffalo to observe. They were very patient with our tons of questions and detailed with their answers. They treated us like people instead of kids, though were certainly acted like the latter. One day Aunt Barbara took us into town to run errands. The drive along the road was beautiful with green grass and massive trees lining both sides. The trees hung over the road with sunlight filtering through in lace-like patterns on the asphalt. On the way home I asked Aunt Barbara about the painted lines in the center of the road, why some were solid and some were in dashes. She patiently explained that the dashes allowed you to cross over into the other lane. I asked if she would do it. She demonstrated, then returned to the original lane. I then asked if she could go back and forth over the line whenever she wanted. She asked what I meant and I demonstrated with my hands on an imaginary steering wheel, turning back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. “Like how a snake moves.” She laughed and said no, explaining the reasons why and that driving that way wouldn’t be safe. I was a bit disappointed, because driving would be that much more fun if you could drive that way.
Children ask questions. It is important for their cognitive development. When parents and other adults address children’s questions respectfully and willingly it not only gives answers but also helps support and strengthen the adult-child relationship. If a child asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, that’s ok. You can tell them you don’t know, but that the two of you can look up the answer or ask someone else. You can also ask them what they think the answer might be. This helps a child develop critical thinking skills- just make sure to find the answer later on so that the child can compare their idea to the facts.
Thanks, Aunt Barbara, for your knowledge, patience, and willingness.