Saturday, August 14, 2010


My three-year-old son is going through his "Why?" phase right now. Actually, he's been going through it for awhile now, and when it first hit, my natural inclination was to try to end his questioning as quickly as possible with short answers and a stern warning to knock it off. However, I was struck with the realization that my high school students had lost this sense of curiosity somewhere along the line and no longer seem interested in exploring much of anything beyond the surface.

I wrote about this on my teacher blog ( and opined about it on Twitter. My principal ( sent me a link to this video, and it really struck a chord a with me. I decided right then that I would answer my son's questions to the best of my ability until his curiosity was satisfied.

Don't get me wrong, his repetitive questioning can be very annoying and at times exhausting, but I really do my best to give him real answers to his questions whenever I can. Unfortunately, I'm not the most knowledgeable guy on some subjects and some of his questions simply don't have real answers. This has lead to some interesting conversations.

We were driving down the road one day when it began to rain. He asked why it was raining. I proceeded to tell him about the water cycle and about how moisture builds in the air to the point that it can't hold anymore and that the temperature also plays a role in producing clouds capable of causing precipitation. I was pretty proud of my knowledge of this (a big thank you to Eastern Illinois University for making me take a class on weather and climate), but he wasn't satisfied. He wanted to know why all of this happens. I explained that it was simply the laws of nature at work. He wasn't satisfied with this either. I was left with no other option than to tell him that is just how God wants it. He asked why God wants it that way. I said it is because God wants to water the plants on Earth. He asked why. I said it was because he wanted them to grow and be pretty. He asked why again. This went on for a good five minutes before I could only tell him that he needed to take this line of questioning up with God. It was at this point that my little boy looked up from his booster seat and said in the most innocent voice imaginable, "God, why do you make it rain?" There was silence in the car for a few moments. Then he looked back at me and said, "Daddy, he's not answering." I caught myself just in time to keep from saying, "Sometimes God doesn't answer us right away," but I knew that would only start the cycle again. I'm a man, not a saint.

Other times, his questions just don't have an answer that I can give. We were driving through town (most of these happen when he is bored in the car) and passed some cheerleaders from the local university holding signs advertising their car wash. If I'd had cash, I would have stopped. I mean, my car was dirty and it seemed like a good cause. Anyway, my son asked what they were doing. I explained the idea of a fundraising car wash. He asked why they needed money. I explained it was to pay for their expenses since cheerleading is an often overlooked program when it comes to funding. He asked why, so I explained about revenue from ticket sales and pressure from booster clubs. He was okay with that, but then asked why they were allowed to stand out near the road and wash cars. I said I didn't know. He persisted down this path, and I honestly ran out of ideas to keep his little mind going. Again, there was silence in the car. Finally, after much thought, my son asked, "Did their mommy say they could?" Hallelujah! "Yes, son. Their mommy said they could." Silence. "Why?"

I don't know if all of this will lead to my son being an engaged and intellectually curious teenager, but I can only hope it helps because I am certain it will be a contributing factor to my future grey hair.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Summer Reflections

I got an email today inviting me to the faculty kick-off party for the new school year. I knew the end of my summer break was fast approaching, but this makes it official. It is a strange thing when I reflect on this past summer. Somehow, it seems like the summer flew by but also lasted forever. It seems like only yesterday my daughter and I were eating donuts in my classroom getting ready to go handout final report cards, and yet I feel like it has been the most amazing and everlasting summer I can remember.

I suppose this has a lot to do with all of the excitement we managed to pack into this short two-and-a-half months. The summer started with t-ball. It seems like such a long time ago that I took my little girl to her first practice. In reality, it was only about ten weeks ago. T-ball season concluded on the same day our son was born: another huge occasion. I feel bad that my wife and I missed my daughter's last game and her getting her trophy, but something tells me that she will forgive us. She loves her baby brother and dotes on him constantly.

After the birth of my youngest son, it was only a few short weeks before I got to take my older son to his first major league baseball game. I wrote about it in my last blog in more detail, but let me just say here that I still can't wipe the smile off of my face when I think about it. All along the way, we enjoyed trips to the park and afternoons in my parents' pool watching my son demonstrate how fearless he is by doing back flips into the pool off of my shoulders while my daughter practiced all she was learning in swimming lessons. Oh, and I got the joy of watching my son find an outlet for his athleticism in tumbling class.

I spend a lot of time thinking about why time seems to fly and stand still at the same time as I get older. I think it is because as I grow and my family grows, I have more and more to look forward to, and one thing I know from childhood is that looking forward to something makes time do funny things. I remember looking forward to Christmas or birthdays and feeling on a day-to-day basis that they would never come but then waking up one morning and realizing it had arrived.

Having kids is kind of like that. I look forward to so many things with them, and it feels like these milestones and events will never come, but they do. I registered my oldest for kindergarten today. I remember when my middle child was born and wondering what his voice would sound like when he was finally able to call me daddy, and now he tells the most amazing stories and is able to tell me I'm the best daddy in the whole world in complete sentences. Now I find myself daydreaming about what it will be like when our youngest is old enough to run around and play with his big brother and sister, but I know that I will wake up one day and find that time has come. Some people might get a little sad to think about how fast their children grow up, and I suppose that someday I will look back and wish they were still my little kiddos, but for now, I am loving every minute of watching them grow and absolutely can't wait until I get to see them do the next thing for the very first time.