In my favorite musical, Rent (stay with me), one of the most powerful moments comes when the cast belts out the song, “Seasons of Love.” In it, they passionately plea that you should “measure your life in love.” For years, I really took this to heart and tried to measure the “525, 600 minutes” of my year in just that, love. And then, my oldest son started talking. And almost instantly it started to feel like my life was measured less in love and more in the seemingly endless number of questions he asks on a daily basis. I get it, as his Mom it’s my responsibility to guide and encourage his exploration of the world. But honestly, it’s fucking exhausting. And it often feels like my answers never satiate him. “I don’t know” and “that’s just the way it is” are never acceptable so I spend all day trying to come up with creative reasonings when all I really want to do is drive from point A to point B listening to Bieber’s latest hits and not get the third degree about every little thing that pops into his mind.
Knowing that this is a pipe dream however, I decided I would turn his queries into a modified version of a baby book entry. I neglected to document when he figured out how to write his name for the first time or when he learned to ride his bike. But now, thanks to my notebook and a tally counter, I will forever remember the day he asked me if he could have a room full of Boomwhackers (February 7, 2016).
And here for you now, that day, in 190 questions…
6:35am – At some point in the night he gets in bed with us. I have no recollection of this but am stirred out of my dream by his little voice so close to my ear I wonder if it’s actually coming from inside my brain…
Question 1: “Will you rub my arm?”
Question 2: “Is it morning?”
Question 3: “Can I get up now?”
Question 4: “Who will play with me?”
Question 5: “Will you play with me?”
Question 6: “WHY ISN’T ANYONE PLAYING WITH ME????”
I attempt to pry my eyes open but am, as of yet, unable to speak. This displeases him a great deal. Sometime around 7am I am now upright with eyes open and caffeine in hand. He notices the tally counter around my neck…
Questions 14 – 16: “What is that?”
Shit. I neglected to think of an excuse for why I’m wearing this ridiculous thing. I deflect, certain that any acknowledgment of its purpose will only lead to more questions.
Question 24: “Mommy, where’s Chewbacca?”
Here we go. I’d say roughly half of the questions I am asked on a daily basis revolve around something he can’t find. Answer: “Honey, I don’t know. Where did you have him last?” He hates this response. Answering his question with another question elicits a reaction similar to what happens when he loses a game of UNO. In case you’re wondering, that shit ain’t pretty.
Questions 25 – 32 all revolve around me helping him find Chewbacca and just really giving no fucks that I answer with “I don’t know” each and every time. This kid is relentless.
It is now 9:40am and the topic of whether or not we will have a third child has come up.
Question 51: “What if we had 43 babies?”
Question 52: “What if we had 101 babies?”
Question 53: “What if we had INFINITY babies??”
My response looks like this…
Thank god for an impromptu playdate. For a glorious two hours the questions to me dwindle and I can enjoy some meaningful conversation with my friend. We use our time wisely, looking up who has the most Twitter followers (it’s Katy Perry).
At 1:30pm we leave the playdate. 1:31pm…
Question 65: “Mommy, when can I have a playdate with Watson? I really want a playdate with Watson.”
We have just left Watson’s house. I’m pretty sure at this point he’s just screwing with me.
Question 69: “Can I have carrots today?” I quickly check the rearview mirror to make sure I have the right child. Yep, that’s him. Answer: “Sure, buddy!” I’m pretty sure I’m being set up…I am.
Question 73: “Mommy, when is the next time I can get a treat?” Oh, here it comes. Answer: “Well, Valentine’s Day is coming up, so probably you could get a pastry or something then.”
Question 74: “What’s a pastry” Answer: “A pastry is a type of sweet treat.”
Question 75: “But what if my pastry fell over, can I get another one?” Answer: “Sure”
Question 76: “So, when is Valentine’s Day?” Answer: “Next Sunday”
Question 77: “It’s not today?” Answer: “No, it’s next Sunday”
Question 78: “Why isn’t it today?” Answer: “Because today is the 7th and Valentine’s Day is on the 14th, which is next Sunday.”
Question 79: (crying) “But I want it to be today! Why isn’t next Sunday today?!” Answer I say in my head: “Because life is really unfair sometimes, dude. Like me, being held hostage in this car by your ridiculous questions.” Answer I say out loud: “I don’t know, sweetie. That’s just the way the calendar works. Maybe ask Daddy about it later and see what he says” (haha!)
The day, and the questions, continue…
Question 108: “What are you eating?” How the hell can he hear me eating a cookie from two rooms away?? I try to swallow it quickly, but it’s no use. Now he’s staring at me and he knows. He always knows.
At around 4pm we start doing crafts.
Question 131: “What if I opened up these scissors and cut off my thumb?” Answer: “That would hurt a lot.”
Question 132: “Would we have to call the Fire Department?” Answer: “No, we would call the ambulance, or I would take you to the emergency room.”
Question 133: “Why wouldn’t we call the Fire Department?” Answer: “Because there wouldn’t be a fire.”
Question 134: “Well would we call the Police?” Answer: “No, we wouldn’t call them either.”
Question 135: “Why not?” Answer: “How about you just don’t cut off your thumb and then we don’t have to worry about it.”
6:15pm. Dinner. I prepare a chicken dish he is uninterested in eating.
Questions 165 – 168 are all the same, “Why?” He wants to know why I have made this dish and why he must eat it. I can tell we’re about to negotiate here because after Question 108 I decided to avoid a nuclear meltdown and relented on my stance that his next sweet treat would be on Valentine’s Day. Instead, I told him he could have a cookie after he ate his dinner. I remind him of this.
Question 169: “Okay, so how many bites?” Answer: “10 bites”
Question 170: “Of just the chicken?” Answer: “No, of the chicken and the rice and the vegetables.” He takes a bite.
Question 171: “So was that one or no?” Answer: “That was one.”
Question 172: “So how many is left?” I think you know where this is heading…I answer the question from the kitchen, where I am pouring myself a glass of wine.
At approximately 7:30pm, he is in bed. Teeth brushed, books read, lights out.
Question 187: “Will you tell me a story?” Answer: “No, this day is done. We can do stories tomorrow.”
Questions 188 & 189: “Can I have a little milk? Just a teeny tiny little smidgen of milk, please?” Answer: “No. You can have milk in the morning.”
Question 190: “Do you love me to the moon and back?” Answer: Absolutely! Sweet dreams, my little love.” (He’s no dummy – he knows how to end the day so I leave the room thinking he’s the sweetest S.O.B. ever to walk the face of the Earth)
I know what you’re thinking. One of these days the only questions he’ll ask me will be, “Will you drop me off further away from school?” and “Why do you hate my girlfriend (and/or boyfriend) so much?!” And I will miss these days. And maybe that’s true. But for now, I would just like one day where I don’t feel like I’m playing an endless game of Jeopardy with my own smug little Alex Trebek. As much as I love him. My son that is. Well and Alex Trebek too, I suppose.