Preschoolers and unintentionally loaded questions

May 22, 2012|By Sarah Kickler Kelber | The Baltimore Sun

Occasionally my nearly-4-year-old son catches me flat-footed with unintentionally loaded questions. Especially right now, when his brain is going a mile a minute, and he wants explanations for just about everything he can think of.

Yesterday morning was just another example. I told him we could go downstairs as soon as I got my makeup on.

He wandered into the bathroom, looked up at me and said, “Mommy, what’s makeup for?”

My brain clogged with too many possible answers.

“A trazillion-dollar industry based on our society’s messed-up idea that no matter how many silly products we apply to our faces, we will never be pretty enough.” Nah, that's a little too intense for a preschooler.

Then I thought, "Yeah, what is this for anyway?" and considered dropping everything.

I glanced back at the mirror and thought, "No, better to cover up the dark circles from waking up with his baby brother at 4:30 before I head to work." But I didn't want to bring that up because then he’d be asking everyone if they have dark circles.

"Something that mommies wear"? No, trying to get out of the habit of calling adults "mommies and daddies" because it’s confusing and seriously misleading.

"Why couldn’t he have asked this after I had some caffeine?"

In the end, I mumbled something about how makeup was something that some women wear sometimes if they feel like it. And then it became clear that I was worrying way too much about the subtleties and implications of his question. He responded:

“Daddy’s your woman!”

“No, Daddy’s my man.”

“Daddy’s my man, too.”

“OK.”

What questions has your child surprised you with?

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