Monday, April 6, 2009

King of Hypotheticals

My eldest son James has always been a thinker. He looks at things from different angles, questions, argues, and then questions some more. This is not to say that he is argumentative, because generally, he isn't. Of all of my children, he is the one who most often knows when to be quiet. But, he has always asked "what if" and "why does" and "do you think" types of questions.

When he was little, around 3 or 4, he would ask things that I could generally answer. Typical questions like: "Why is the sky blue?" or "Do you think that T. Rex was the strongest dinosaur?" Eventually, as he grew, these questions grew and evolved with him. Some were serious: "Why did we have World War II?" "What if we never had to sleep?" Others bordered on the ridiculous--a hint of things to come: "Who do you think would win in a fight, a wooly mammoth or a saber toothed tiger?"

Almost always I was able to answer these questions in a way that made sense for him at the time. And if I couldn't, I did what most responsible parents would--I told him to do some research and find the answer or offered to help him research the answer, or I pointed him in the direction of someone who could answer the question. Also, sometimes, I did what irresponsible parents do--namely, I lied, made up, embellished or otherwise constructed an answer that would PLEASE GOD shut him up for a while...

This leads up to my favorite hypothetical of all time (so far). This weekend we were in the car driving by the resevoir that we live near. We were driving over a bridge when James, seeing the expanse between the opposite shorelines, posited this doozy: "Mom, do you think that when Ben Franklin was young, he could've swam across that lake?"

As I was rolling around several answers in my head, and getting ready to respond with the winner("Um...what now?) my youngest son, Sean, beat me to the punch. Laughing, he said, "I think James thinks you're old enough that you would know that! You know, like you were around when Ben Franklin was young!"

At that, both boys erupted in guffaws and hoots of laughter and I was left nonplussed. I did tell James that in the future, he could start asking those questions to his father. Hmph.

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