The perks of having a very inquisitive child is that one learns to think outside the box. To not take things at face value. To see beyond the horizon. While it gets frustrating sometimes, this ability to see things from a different perspective is something I have been consciously trying to work on since I decided to write creative non-fiction. Because it is impossible to be descriptive if you don’t see the finer details.
Sometime last week, we were driving on Oloitoktok Road as I was dropping Xena to school at 7.15am. Just as we approached the roundabout near Methodist Guest House, she decides to let me in on her thoughts, with hopes of finding answers to some of her burning questions.
“Mama, is it morning or night?” She deadpans, head tilted slightly upwards as she peers through the windscreen, staring into the sky from the passenger seat.
” Are you serious? What questions does mama not answer?” I retort, wondering why she would ask such an insipid question.
“Rhetorical questions.” She tells me.
I am naturally extremely impatient. This means that I have very little capacity to handle situations whose outcomes I cannot control, as well as questions whose answers I don’t know. So, I try to save my energy for that, and avoid using it on the obvious. For that reason, we have this agreement at home (which applies to both the mister and the kids) that I am open to any questions as long as they are not rhetorical. Ask me why cows sleep while standing or why we can’t have ice cream for breakfast. Or how the likes of Elsa and Dora get inside the TV. That I will answer.
So on that particular morning, despite admitting that she knew very well that it was morning and not night, she insisted on having that conversation. Something about that morning wasn’t right.
“But mama, if it’s morning why is the moon still in the sky?”
I thought she was pulling my leg but when I leaned forward to get a better look of the sky, I saw it. A waning gibbous moon, serenely floating against the clear blue sky. I wanted to park on the side of the road and take in more of that view, but we both had places to get to.
“Why mama? Why is the moon in the sky if it is morning and not night?”
She persisted, as if to say “how’s this for an ingenious question? Aren’t those the ones you like, ma? Why are you taking so long to answer then?”
I tried to remember lessons from geography classes but nothing could come to mind, much as geog was one of the subjects I truly enjoyed. Don’t judge. If you went through the 8-4-4 system, you understand that most of the times we crammed information for the sake of passing exams. And once we downloaded the info, half of it was left in the exam room.
Luckily, we were almost getting to school at which point she would have had to quickly alight. So, I promised her that we would have that conversation in the evening when I got home from work.
“Ok mummy, will you pick me up from school today?” She asks me, hands fondling with the safety belt as she tries to unbuckle it.
“The school van will drop you home Xena as it always does.”
She then gives me this piteous look and says “but I want you to pick me up please.”
“Why do you want me to pick you up?” At this point, I am concerned given that she has always enjoyed the ride home with her schoolmates in the school van.
“Because I love you and I enjoy spending time with you.” She shoots me the sweetest look as she utters those words, like an adorable white little kitten begging for your last piece of chicken. She has always been manipulative this one, but at this point, I can’t complain. How can I, when my 4.5-year-old daughter whose rhetorical questions I sometimes cannot stand, thinks so highly of the time she spends with me?
Sadly, I never made it on that day. I however rocked up at her school the following day promptly with flowers in hand to make up for not showing up the previous day.