I am not renowned for being a very tolerable person, in fact previous work colleagues will testify that I am famous for my incredibly short fuse and am a stickler for the rules, however when it comes to my kids it is safe to say that I have a lot longer fuse than normal. Am I relaxed because they are my kids? No. Am i relaxed because I am drunk a lot? No, although I am sure it would help. I am relaxed because I had the shared privilege of creating my eldest son, the well renowned question monster.
My eldest son falls under lots of different categories and chatty would be one of them. In fact I think he goes beyond chatty, he can literally talk your ears off but here are the two catches:
- He remembers everything, and I mean everything. You want to know what you had for tea three weeks ago on a Sunday? He is your man.
- His conversations are full of scientific questions, animal related facts, knowledge based hypotheses and that ability to remember every shred of information he has ever been told.
This makes having a conversation with him a real challenge. Normally with kids you can reply with a “that sounds nice” or “really” etc etc, basically you can give them lip service and they pretty much will go along with it. That cannot happen with my eldest as he will out right confront you and call you out, thus making you feel like a bad parent and very guilty.
I love the fact that he is so switched on and obviously academic, however do you have any idea how tough it is having a conversation with a 6 year old about the internal dynamics of a jet engine? Or how we discussed at length about the logistical and corporate pitfalls of Santa making all of those toys because apparently he will need a “licence” to build Apple Ipads as they normally build them in China. Well let me tell you, I have learnt more about animals, space and the workings of a jet engine since having kids then I did before.
Guilt makes you more tolerant. You will at some point ask your kids to be quiet for just one minute and they will be, then you will hear a little gentle sob and a faint crack as their heart breaks and they realise you are a twat. This triggers your guilt and you quickly start to learn tolerance. My eldest boy brought this out of me pretty quickly especially as every day without fail, he jumps into bed next to me at 0650am and starts with the questions:
- Dad, how many flags are there in the world that contain a triangle?
- Dad, how do Tesco know that they need more bread AND how much do they order each day?
- Dad, how long is a crocodile in its egg before it breaks out?
- Dad, what makes wind?
- Dad, why does a dogs bum look like a belly button?
- Dad, why don’t we fall off the earth?
- Dad, what is poo?
- Dad, what is the difference between a donkey and a mule?
- Dad, what’s the difference in length between a saltwater crocodile and a fresh water one?
- Dad, what does human flesh taste like?
- Dad, how do they make wine?
- Dad, how long were the romans alive for?
- Dad, who would win in a fight between a bear and a shark?
- Dad, how quickly could you build a shed?
- Dad, why is an eyeball round?
- Dad, why does it feel nice when I tickle my balls?
- Dad, why do we need maths?
- Dad, how do tattoos get on your skin and why don’t they wash off?
- Dad, what chemicals make up bleach?
- Dad, What makes the wheels on your car turn forward?
- Dad, how does tapping a computer key result in a letter coming up on the screen? What is the physical connection that makes this happen called?
And the list goes on and on and on. I have been unable to answer “I don’t know” to any of these questions and instead have had to go and find out the answer. I once blagged an answer and my boy turned around and said “that’s a lie, the answer is XXXX what else have you lied to me about?”. I mean seriously, how do you even think about that at such a young age?
I would like to point out at this stage that my wife is completely absent throughout all of this. Well I say absent, she is actually laid there chuckling to herself at the barrage of questions I get asked. You see the thing is I like to think of myself as a knowledgeable person, I love facts and science so there is no doubt where my son gets this from however my wife is the opposite. Knowing this she openly started referring my son to me when she didn’t know the answer and I would find myself coming home from work to a list of questions.
So next time you see me throw a twitter wobble or i rant about something really trivial on facebook, remember the pressure I am under at home. It really takes it out of you trying to find the answer to why a dogs bum looks like a belly button.