As a business person I hear all the time about the importance of admitting when you don't know the answer to something. Honesty is the best policy, and sometimes that means having to admit ignorance from time to time. I've always been really ok with this. I am a TERRIBLE liar! I have never had a great memory, so remembering the truth is hard enough, I'm not about to complicate things with having to remember what lie I told one person vs another, or what actually happened.
However, the response "I don't know" does not go over well when the kid asks a question. In his world I am an all-knowing being. I am supposed to have answers to every "why" he can come up with. I can handle the easy ones; why do I have to go to bed (because mama needs a break/you have to sleep to grow), why do I have to eat that (because its what we are having for dinner), why can't I play baseball in the house (why do you think you can't play baseball in the house?)? Some questions require research; what is Dave Grohl's favorite color (something practical, and a Tesla), how many fire trucks are in town (I think the last time I answered this it was 7)? Some questions don't get a straightforward answer; why did that car turn left (they didn't tell me), why does that tree have leaves if it is fall (fall has a large window in Texas), why his is name ____ (why is your name what it is?)? I knew becoming a parent would require constant learning, but I had no idea how random it would get.
Sometimes the questions are too hard to answer with something simple. We have had two pets die in the last couple years, and that is really hard to explain to a kid, so he still asks about them regularly. I’m also not great at explaining the physics of why his crazy hot wheels layout isn’t working well, and I’m equally frustrated at not being able to do four loops in a row. I also can’t explain what caused the various car accidents we see around town. Worse than those are the harder questions I know are coming sooner than I want. Having to explain racism and the decline of the environment due to climate change are things I don’t even know how to start to explain those issues. As frustrating as it is to have him screaming at me for not being able to find that random paper he left in his pocket weeks ago, I will take that annoyance over the sadness he will face when someone does finally call him a racial slur, and I know that it will happen.
If you ever want to help out a friend with young children, please, please, just let the child ask you questions. They could range from personally invasive (how come you have/don’t have kids) to theologically questioning (what is God’s favorite color) to just obscure (why?????), but you might learn something new in the process. What is the most interesting question a child has asked you?