400 Questions

Does Baby A know how old she is? If you ask her, she will tell you that she’s two, but that’s probably because that’s the answer she’s been taught to give. In her mind, I think that Baby A believes that she’s four. There could be no other explanation for the number of questions she asks in day! Four-year-olds ask on average close to 400 questions a day, with children younger and older asking less. Surely then, Baby A must believe that she’s four!

The most famous of Baby A’s questions is the rather vague, ‘what’s this?’ Often she asks this while touching an object so it’s quite simple to answer. At other times though, she’ll wave her index finger in the air, pointing in the direction of about 50 things and ask me curiously, ‘Mommy, what’s this?’ Of course, I’ll try to question her back about which object she’s referring to (where is it? Is it the brown one that you’re referring to, etc.) but if that fails, I’ll just start naming everything in that general direction, only to have it shot down one by one.

‘That’s an apple, sweetheart.’

‘No, mommy, what’s this?’

‘It’s a book.’

‘No, what’s this?’

And so, we will go on until bedtime.

Then there’s the equally challenging broken record. Baby A will point to something simple such as the teddy bear’s eye and ask her famous question. I will answer. She will then repeat herself. I will follow with the same answer, now in greater detail (it’s the teddy bear’s black eye; it’s a circle!). She will once again, point to the same thing, and well, you get the drift. This will go on until bedtime.

Then there is my favourite: the selfless, heart-warming, ‘you want?’ This is my favourite because it’s accompanied with a really cheeky smile and dangerous side eyes 👀. You would imagine that this would have a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer with a polite ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ thrown in.

‘Papi, Mommy and Baby A go Spinneys. You want coffee?’ (We often stop by Starbucks on our way back from the grocery store).

‘No, thank you, Baby A.’

‘Okay Papi, bye.’

That exchange is hilarious because it’s completely untrue. Nothing is that simple with a two-year-old. There is only one answer to the ‘you want?’ questions, and that’s, ‘Yes please, sweetheart. Thank you very much. You’re so kind.’ Any other response will once again turn Baby A into a broken record.

‘Papi, you want coffee?’

‘No, sweetheart, thank you.’

‘Papi, you want coffee?’





It’s worse when she’s trying to feed you something. ‘Mommy you want orange?’, she asks as she extends a half bitten squished piece of orange towards me. ‘No, thank you, sweet-‘, and I gag because the piece of orange has been stuffed into my mouth.

As I’m now a mother, I might as well resign myself for eternity to the third kind of questions: the ‘where’s that?’ I still ask my mother these, so Baby A had to start at some point.

Me: ‘Ammi, do you know the whereabouts of the pink shirt I wore on Eid three years ago?’

My Mother: ‘You haven’t lived in this house for nine years.’

Me: ‘So? Do you know where the shirt is?’

My mother: ‘No, sweetheart.’

Me: ‘Can you please check in my cupboard?’

My mother: ‘You don’t have a cupboard here anymore. Your brother has taken over your old room.’

Now that I have my own child, I can understand what must go through my mother’s mind every time I ask her the ‘where’s that?’ questions. Baby A is holding onto a toy or a piece of food one second, and the next second she’s asking me where it’s gone. You had it a second ago, Baby A, how would mommy know? I feel that the part of my day that isn’t spent answering questions, is spent looking for lost objects and hidden pieces of food.

All said and done, Baby A’s questions are still quite simple (maybe she is two, after all). She hasn’t yet asked me why water is wet, so I still do have answers for her. She has thrown a few difficult ones at me though:

‘Mommy, what’s a naughty one?’

‘Ummm…’ (thinking, did I call her naughty? 😳)

It’s only going to get harder though, isn’t it? I need to start reading more Wikipedia and take some improv lessons from my husband, before Baby A actually turns four.

Of course, jokes and hair pulling aside, I’m glad that Baby A asks as many questions as she does, and I try my best to answer all of them truthfully. I hope that as she grows up and the questions get tougher, I can maintain that response rate.

The average child asks about 300 questions a day. It’s amazing not just how curious we start off in life, but how broad our curiosity is. Children want to know everything about everything. They question things you and I take for granted (why is water wet is a great example) and they continuously question the status quo (why do I have to go to bed before you?).

What happens to us when we grow up, though? Sure, we know a lot more than when we were kids and depending on what we’ve built our career in, we might know a lot about something. That said, our personal knowledge is nothing compared to the knowledge that exists out there.

We get so caught up in daily routine. Not only do we stop questioning to learn, but we also stop questioning the routine, we stop questioning the norm. We stop questioning injustices and we stop questioning inequality. In our focus to build a life for ourselves, we stop questioning the purpose of life.

Yesterday, Baby A and I were walking past a gentleman with a rather serious face. Baby A asked me, ‘Mommy, he’s angry?’ As I thought of an appropriate reply, I contemplated whether I should go ask him if something was wrong. After all, as children perhaps all we can do is ask questions, but as adults, we can find answers.


One thought on “400 Questions

  1. Your observations are amazing … I have three children and as I was/am a working mother got to spend much less time with them…wish had answered their queries with much thought.
    As baby “A” observed angry face we may want to counter ask a question … understanding that child has an immense power of learning… it is up to us how much we want to stretch their learning and knowledge domain.


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