“Did you know that an average four year old asks 437 questions a day?”
I saw this factoid on Pinterest.
My immediate response was…surely not.
Yes, my kid asks a crazy amount of questions, but four hundred and thirty seven? That seems absurd… astronomical.. ridiculous… impossible.
And besides the fact that it is inconceivable to think that she would be creative enough to come up with that many questions in a 24 hour period, I unequivocally don’t have the patience to unknowingly field 437 questions a day, every day.
I pondered this impossibility for a few days. Which made me begin to notice how many of her sentences actually do come out in question format. And if I’m being honest, it began to irritate me a little, now that I was noticing and all.
So, to have a little fun with her intense questioning and, therefore, re-align my brain away from irritation, I set out one Monday morning with the intention of counting every single question.
Because what good is a fact without an accompanying scientific experiment to validate the data?
The following is an account of that fateful day of testing.
7:45 AM: Noah woke up before Ali. So I was in his room nursing when she woke up at 8:00.
And, since I told her one time when she was two years old not to get out of bed without me there and try as I might I’ve never been able to get her to break that rule since (she’s a card carrying color-in-the-lines-in-the-box-in-rainbow-order-only kind of kid), the day started off with sixteen repetitive questions, increasing in intensity,
1-16. “CAN I GET UP!?!?!?!!?”
until I finally finished nursing and went and told her for the sixty-eleventh time that if I don’t answer, she can just get up on her own, forgoodnesssake.
By 8:20, at which point we arrived at the breakfast table, the count was up to 37.
38. “I know what my spending and my church banks are for, but what am I saving the money in my ‘savings’ bank for again?”
For big things that you’ll need when you get older. Like a car.
“Oh. Yes. Or like if I need a really really really big box.”
The questions were endless – I previously had no comprehension of the depths of her curiosity until I started this cursed counting. And still, I was so used to the continuous onslaught of interrogation that at times I would forget and quit counting, just switching into explanation overdrive. When I would remember my task for the day, I’d have to think back and try to remember the last dozen questions I’d answered so that I could estimate an accurate count.
86. “Will Pop be at Gramamma’s when I go spend the night?”
Yes, he will.
87. “Why isn’t he there sometimes?”
Well, he has to travel for work sometimes.
“Oh. JUST like Tinkerbell.”
Yes. Pop is JUST like Tinkerbell, honey.
And so our day continued, me realizing as every second passed that quite literally all I do, all day long, every day, is answer questions.
101. “Why doesn’t Lightning tee-tee?”
102. “Lightning. You know – Lightning McQueen in Cars. Why doesn’t he ever tee-tee in the movie?”
I…don’t exactly know.
103. “Do you think it’s because he’s a car? Because cars don’t usually tee-tee. But he has a face, and things with faces DO usually tee-tee…”
Surely this was some sort of twisted psychological experiment.
159. “Why did everyone move out of the way for that ambulance?”
Because he had his siren on, which means he has a very sick person in the back that they need to deliver to the hospital.
160. “Is there one sick person in the back or two?”
Just one, I’m pretty sure.
161. “What’s wrong with him?”
I don’t know, but he’s either very sick or very hurt and needs to see a doctor right away.
“OH. I bet he has a scratch.”
By 2 PM, we were up to 226. At which point came my naptime reprieve. I rested my brain, never realizing how much I needed that rest until this Pandora’s Box Counting Experiment.
Why the heck did I think this was a good idea???
Naptime ended, and the questions instantaneously resumed. I had also previously never realized the stupefying number of questions she could get out before even taking a breath…
289-295. WhyAreTheLeavesRed? AndWhyIsn’tThisOneRed? AndWillItBeRedSoon? WhatDayWillItTurnRed? WhyIsThisOneOrange?WillThisOneStillTurnOrangeEvenThough IPickedItWhileItWasStillGreen? WhatTwoColorsCombineToMakeGreenAgain?
I finally lost count altogether when Chris arrived home. The tally, as it stood, was somewhere around 320.
And she still had two entire hours before bedtime.
…And was now ramping up her question speed to ensure full use of having two parents to respond.
I’m positive that she far exceeded 437 that day. But I won’t be counting again to make sure – it’s just not good for my mental health.
Plus, I’m not sure that I’ve yet learned to count that high.
34 thoughts on “Their Superpower.”
I don’t know how you never noticed this. However, since my first job at 18 was as a nanny, and every year since then has been spent in the company of small children, I have answered approximately 92309498358985.7 questions in the past twelve years. (once, a kid fell asleep mid-question. true story.)
Lately we’ve been exploring the sound volume of every imaginable food, because I’m trying to teach Ally to chew with her mouth closed (if anyone knows how to accomplish this, please enlighten me before the men in the white coats come), so it’s “Mommy, are crackers loud or quiet? Are hot dogs loud or quiet? Is grilled cheese loud or quiet?” Etc. etc. ad nauseum.
“Mommy do you have green eyes?”
“Mommy is Rapunzel’s hair really long?”
“Mommy is you typing?”
“Mommy is that horsey silly?”
All fielded while typing this comment.
She must have been watching Tangled while you were typing. See, that’s another thing. You THINK you can put on a movie to get a tiny break, but no. It just adds to the fodder for question ideas.
1. Sara, your comment above cracked me up!
2. Rachel-everything you wrote is sooo true. But, as you have already observed God must have given us mommies a natural ability/instinct to answer the questions without really paying attention to the questions. You turned off the question repealing part of your brain and honed in on the actual paying attention part. Big mistake. Just activate the “Smile, nod, and hmmmm” feature and go about your regular mommy business. :)
SO true. I can probably do advanced algebra problems without even thinking about it – I just answer and go. Thankfully, I’ve managed to get back into that mode.
at least yours are 4 years apart so maybe you’ll get a tiny reprieve. One of mine just left the 4’s and in two weeks the other one enters them. My husband stays with our kids all day so by the time we get a few minutes to talk, he seriously does not want me to ask him any questions. Too warn out from answering 850 throughout the day!
I seriously can’t imagine!! The whole time I was counting I was wondering how Mommies with more than one can possibly manage!!
I love this post.
This post, and the above comments, made me laugh. As much as I wish Landen could talk enough to actually tell me what is going on in his head, I DO cherish his 10 word vocabulary, and his inability to ask 500 million questions a day… though I know that is coming fairly soon.
For the time being, I’ll just enjoy him repeating the word(s), “Uh OOOOOooo” everytime something falls, could fall, is thrown, or kicked. :D
oh, you have cursed me, I’m afraid. I’m quite certain that tomorrow as soon as Eden opens her mouth my mind is going to be triggered to this blog post and I will automatically begin counting and noticing each and every single question. Whereas before, I had the mommy super power of answering said questions without hardly noticing them! :)
So how many was it? I really think that they ask so many you can’t possibly “accidentally” count them all. You can’t even do it on purpose – it’s just too overwhelming.
The questions never stop and my son just turned 8. 8 year old boys can have some unusally questions. I usually answer what I can – send the ones I can’t to his dad. Somedays can be very exciting.
It can be absolutely maddening can’t it. My son is 11 1/2 and he still asks this many questions a day.
Thanks for the lack of hope, there. ;)
Wow, I am impressed with your ability to count while answering. I’m sure K reaches the 400’s every day but I have just gotten so used to it I answer them automatically. Although sometimes I find myself nodding, “uh-hmm” and then looking up, startled, thinking oh crap what did I just say yes to?
Yes, I have that problem too. And there’s no backing down once you’ve accidentally said yes – at least not in their minds!!
Oh geez…now I want to count. I know that E asks questions (usually the same ones over and over) all day, but I wouldn’t have thought it was that many. I have a feeling if I start counting, I’ll be blown away. WHY would you put this thought in my mind??
To count effectively, you really need one of those push-button lap counters. And you will have to hold it in your hand all day, so be prepared.
i cannot imagine that my kids are asking that many questions a day! hopefully i have not squelched their curiosity with my already present irritation. but perhaps it will help if i count questions like you did. you seem to like science experiments!
Yes. I live for a good science experiment. Especially if the subject is my kid!
Wow! Just imagine all the learning that’s going on in their minds as they develop! It’s kind of a shame that we grow up and lose all that curiosity and the sense that anything is possible. (But we’d drive our bosses and partners crazy if we asked that many questions! :) )
LOL! I am so putting this post out of my head. Darn….now I’m thinking back to the beginning of the day and trying to count. Thanks a lot!
This might be my favorite blog post ever! I feel like it’s the story of my life x2 because my almost 5 year old asks nonstop questions and my 2.5 year old talks like a 4 year old. It’s relentless! I never wanted to be a “because I said so” or “that’s just how it is” kind of mom, but when EVERY answer I give is met with, “But why?” at some point you just have to put an end to that line of questioning!
SO true – it’s as if they’re determined to pin us down to not answering any more sometimes. But by then, we’ve already answered 257, so we shouldn’t feel guilty.
I’m with you Lisa. I have a 3 yr old and one that just turned 5 and sometimes I wonder if they are having a contest to see who can ask the most. Or see which one of them can ask the last question that will drive me insane. (I told them they were driving me insane today and guess what I heard. “What’s insane?”) I always thought that I would answer all their questions and teach tham sooo much, but I have found when I answer “I don’t know”, the questions stop coming. At least for a minute or two.
Yes, sometimes “I don’t know” is the only thing that does work. Unless then you get “Why don’t you know?” – I got that one today.
LOL – I wonder how it compares over a lifetime (also, can you imagine that research project? The students assigned to count questions must have wanted to switch advisors!)
If I’ve answered once and get asked again, I ask “why do you think?” Usually that’s what Elizabeth is waiting for (apparently she likes to show off her new knowledge).
If I don’t know she often asks me how long it will take me to find out… (!)
Aubrey likes to bombard me with questions when we’re in the car. One day, as we pulled into the garage after a full 20 minutes of non-stop questions, I just lightly started banging my head against the steering wheel sure that I would go completely insane if I had to field one more question. Of course, it took her 0.1 second to ask, “Why are you doing that Mommy?” “Does that hurt your head Mommy?” “Are you being silly Mommy?” “Is that how a woodpecker honks the horn?” I just said, “Aubrey, can you please not ask Mommy any questions for a little bit?” Her response was the classic, “Why Mommy?”
*I just realized that I called my mom today and after the customary “Hey Mom!” I went straight to “I have a quick question for you…” I’m guessing the Mommy interrogations will never cease. Heaven help us all.
Ha! After you said this, I thought about it and I probably still drive my Mom crazy with questions too. So there you go. We all, apparently, deserve it.
Never ever gotten out of bed on her own???!!!! (I have no further words. I need to process the extreme wave of jealousy I feel right now…:))
I do apologize. Sometimes I wonder if my brother and I share any common DNA whatsoever. Do you also wonder that?
How funny! Ali has some good questions. She’s a smartie, and recognizes your intuition and insight. You’re Momipedia at this point and will be saddled there the rest of your life. I still call my mom for stuff.
Ali so reminds me of my Haylee. She used to do that too… call out and ask if she could get up. :)
This is SO very hilarious and so very insane that the questions could really be that high! I think we do just end up answering w/o thinking most of the time b/c we are so used to it. My hubby sometimes seems to just tune out the question all together so then the question is incessantly repeated at an increasing volume until I think I’m going to lose my mind in the next room! :)
It’s so funny the questions that they come up with! The other day Wade asked how old Vanna White was! We were all like where did that come from until we realized he thought she was really some sort of super tiny person since there was a split screen with the puzzle/Vanna on the bottom and the people on the top. :)
Yes, mothers can’t help but answer, but dads seem to be able to tune them out..and therefore leave the mothers to answer. Convenient, no?
The number of questions kids ask is unbelievable, but I had no idea it was that many!!! By the way, love your new header picture!