Youngest Daughter is quite past the “why” stage. Or so I thought. Lately she has been asking questions. She usually asks them while I am driving. Questions such as:
Why is economics so depressing?
Why is The Hunchback of Notre Dame an examination of evil?
This question came several weeks after I dissuaded her from reading this book, by telling her that she was not ready for such an examination of evil. I think she’s really asking what sort of evil is in this book. She loved reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. The first time she read it, she taught herself how to skip the non-plot parts of the book. She’s plowed through it several more times, reading more of the contents each time. So she wants to read more Hugo. But isn’t 12 years old too young to read Notre Dame de Paris?
What makes people end up at the level they are on?
She meant socio-economic level.
Why are politicians so mean?
Then there are the “if” questions, which are in the format “If [impossible situation], what would you choose from [difficult choices]?”
If you had to live entirely in your head, what kind of house would you live in?
If you were unable to speak for your whole life, and then you were able to say one word, what would you say?
I responded that I would say “Water!” but she rejected my choice as too pedestrian. In her view, if a person can only say one word during their entire life, it had better be a really interesting one, such as “discombobulated” or “antidisestablishmentarianism.” So I amended my response to “pamplemousse” or “crépuscule.”
If you were able to do a back flip, would you do one?
She asked her brother this: If I hugged you and then you were suddenly on the [Star Trek Starship] Enterprise, what would you think? I couldn’t hear his reply, but I suspect he said, “You’d better not hug me.”
If Genghis Khan wasn’t a gang leader, then who was he?
There are the questions which are impossible to categorize, such as:
When is it best to run, and when is it best to hide?
And rarely, the questions for which I know the answer:
Mommy, do you think that chocolate makes the world go ’round?
I said, “Yes, most definitely. What do you think makes the world go ’round? Doughnuts?” She replied, “I think it’s the earth’s core.”
I hope she keeps asking questions. Right now she says she plans to be a microbiologist, and being a scientist requires knowing how to ask the right questions. If you’re a microbiologist, perhaps the most important question is, “Did you wash your hands?”
Any questions? You can ask now, because I'm not driving.