As a teacher, I have always stood behind the idea that there were no stupid questions. When another student would say “that is a stupid question.” I would respond “there are no stupid questions,” and then answer the question like I was so excited that it was asked.
Lately though, my kids have really been making me question the idea. Don’t worry I soon realized what was going on! They are preparing for National Ask a Stupid Question Day on September 28th! My kids are overachievers so they have been working hard to prepare for this special day. I am more than relieved because I was starting to worry about them.
Although, I think I define a stupid question differently than others based on the except from geekosystem.com.
If I have to simply define the difference it would be this…
A quality question is a question that gains you information that you don’t have or that is not readily available to you from your other senses. Thus quality questions do not always have to be brillant. They could be questions like “where are we going?” if no one told you. Even “why do we have to go to bed now?” I completely understand why my kids asked this question of us when we had to bring their bedtime to 8:00 after a summer of 9:00 or later bedtimes.
A stupid question is one where you ask it even when you know the answer or you ask so you don’t have to use your other senses to figure out. These are questions that to me should be obvious to anyone who has all their synapses working in their brains or are past the age of 4 (when much of the world is a strange and curious place).
So here are the ways my kids have been preparing…
Filling the Candy Bucket
We have a candy bucket that the kids can choose from if they eat a good lunch or dinner, earn through doing a great job with their homework or chores, or for when they are caught being awesome. It was getting low and so at the store, I picked up a big bag of candy to replenish it. After dinner, I am standing over the bucket opening the bag when The Boy asks me this question.
The Boy: Mom, didn’t we get a new bag of candy?
Me: [looks down at the bag I am opening] Yes, we did.
The Boy: Are you going to put it in the bucket soon?
Me: [filling the bucket] I don’t know I can’t seem to figure out what I did with it.
The Boy: Oh, I really wanted a piece of the new candy. Should we look for it?
Me: [holding up the bag] What am I holding?
The Boy: Oh. [laughing]
Seriously, sometimes I wonder. The sad thing is that he is right there the whole time and I still cannot believe that he did not notice the big bag in my hands or the loud roar of the candy filling the bucket.
Screenshot from Jasmines Confessions
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the “where is/are” type of questions, I know sometimes things can be right under your nose and you can miss them. I ask those questions all the time, but usually after I did some degree of looking for whatever I need.
The Girl: What are you doing?
Me: [laying out chicken nuggets on a cookie sheet] Cooking dinner.
The Girl: Mom, what are we having for dinner?
Me: Chicken nuggets.
The Girl [walks up to where I am]: What are you cooking?
Me: [a very perplexed expression] What do you think I am cooking?
The Girl: It looks like chicken nuggets.
Me: Very good deduction.
There were some quality questions in there… She was not in the room so asking what I was doing was appropriate. So was asking what is for dinner, but then it took a seriously wrong turn. Unfortunately for me, the question about what I am doing is often asked when they are in clear view of what I am doing. My typical response is “What do you think I am doing?” and they are 99% accurate in their responses to my question.
Why am I so mean?
The Boy: Why are you so mean?
Me: How am I mean?
The Boy: You always ask me to clean up my toys and boring stuff like that before you let me watch TV.
Me: Oh, well I guess that does make me pretty mean, doesn’t it. Hmm. I guess I am mean because I would rather not have people step on your toys since they are scattered all over the play room and foyer.
The Boy: Well, why should I clean them up?
Me: Hmm. What a good question! Why should you, the person who was playing with them clean them up? I just don’t know. [pretending to be in deep thought]
The Boy: The Girl should clean them up.
Me: [looking at The Girl actively cleaning up the playroom] Well, I think she is cleaning up. The big question is why aren’t you?
The Boy: Cause it is boring! Why do I always have to do boring things?
Me: Listen, I make you do boring things because as a mother it is my job to torture you by making you do things that will prepare you for when you get older. If doing that makes me mean, then I guess that is why I am mean. I am mean because I love you and I because I love you a lot, I may be the meanest mom there is. Now help your sister clean up the playroom or there will be no chance of watching any TV tonight. [The boy pouts and walks to the playroom]
Unfortunately, these were not stupid questions (by my definition). He raised some great points. Why do we have to do boring things? I did restrain myself from giving the real answer I wanted to give…
Why do I always have to do boring things?
Because that is what growing up means. When you are a kid there are endless sources of entertainment and limited responsibilities. You grow up and there will be things you have to do and guess what some of them will be boring. You will have to sit in boring meetings, you may have to go with your girlfriend to see a boring movie, and you will have to do boring housework (unless by some miracle you win the lottery, because don’t count on your inheritance or a trust fund to make you rich). When you get to do fun things they will become all the more special because they are sandwiched between boring monotonous stuff. I just want to prepare you so it won’t be a shock to your system.
Note from the author:
I want to apologize for the “bad” words I used in this post. “Stupid” is a bad word as I have been countlessly told by my children. I do hope nobody reading this post was offended by the scandalous language I used. I thought about using the word “ignorant” or “imbecilic” and tossed around “moronic”, but in the end “stupid” seemed to fit the best. As Thesaurus.com suggests…
Although ignorant may work better, I will contend that it is a lack of ability to a) use their brain to gain access to the information and (b) use their 5 senses to gather the information.