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There are many things I find wondrous about having a child, but today I was thinking about the amusing and enlightening fact that my three-year-old takes my questions seriously.

I am somewhat accustomed to people taking my questions seriously in general, of course — I am, after all, a teacher post-Socrates — but with my son the context is entirely different. I’m not questioning him about the history of the fourteenth century or what Iago is up to in Othello; more often than not I’m asking him about the basic workings of the world, the sorts of things you and I take for granted.

And because he is untrammeled by the world, because he takes these sometimes joking questions seriously, in a way that you or I never would, I am constantly humbled and forced to step back and look at the world through his fresh eyes.

About 15 minutes ago, for example, we were eating lunch. I was re-reading a medieval outlaw tale that I’ll be teaching in, oh, about 45 minutes. My son was eating a hot dog. The wife was tossing the infant equivalent of all-natural Cheetohs at our daughter, who was happily grabbing them and crunching them apart with her 6 teeth. The wee lad, finishing his hot dog, asked for more “things” to eat.

I didn’t look up from my book. “What things?”

“Things like sister. I’ll take and bite them with my teeth,” he said, chomping the air dramatically.

“Why won’t you bite them with your nose?” I asked.

He didn’t respond right away, and the quiet pause was enough to make me glance up from my reading. The boy, I saw, was sort of looking off into the space over my shoulder. His mouth was open, and a couple of his fingers were tracing the line of his incisors. Then, as I watched, those same fingers moved upward toward his nostrils and felt around a bit. The fingers fell away after a moment, and his eyes returned to mine. With all earnestness, in the serious tone best reserved for conclusions wrought of true scientific inquiry, he looked into my eyes and said, “Because my nose doesn’t have teeth, Daddy.”

I laughed. I closed my book. He got some baby Cheetohs. And my son, no doubt uncertain why his discovery caused such amusement but pleased to have been a part of it nonetheless, laughed, too.


  1. very nice. 🙂 may I add… this morning Scott was showing Wren how to listen to some music on the ipod with the headphones in his ears, and I noticed that at one point Wren thoughtfully pulled one side off his ear and tried it against his nose. apparently he couldn't hear the music there, so put it back in his ear. the boys have to try out their noses. just what is a nose good for, they wonder? :)thanks for sharing!

  2. It’s over my head to be sure. All I can say is you should have been a physicist, which coincidently was the career I began when first entering college a number of years ago. Interesting stuff, however

  3. haha! that is great. I'm am sure that parenting is humbling in many ways, and you learn much more than you think you would. I look forward to those times sometime in the future.

  4. Humbling doesn't begin to describe it. And it can be truly hilarious, too.

  5. Clearly my comment above was for the Knowing Everything post, though Grandson Samuel is certainly out of this world at times. An errant keystroke must have directed the comment here.

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