I’ve been babysitting my 12 year old cousin for the past few days, and as exhausted as I’ve been, I am happy. It’s like revisiting childhood, and understanding what I wish I’d understood ages ago.
As I am now typing this out, he’s taking over the TV, playing YouTube videos of Bruce Lee’s fight scenes.
And after four days, I realized that I’m starting to sound more and more like my mom when it comes to dealing with him.
“Don’t sleep too late, you might get sick if you keep going to sleep so late.” “Why did you just do that? It must have hurt! Be careful!” “I’m telling you this because I care. I do.” “Don’t do that! Stop! Stop that!”
And I think if I’d installed cameras in the house, I’d be able to hear just everything I’d said and be in an awe.
I actually thought I’d be a cool parent… until now.
Meanwhile, my cousin asks me ten million questions a day, and I start to feel for my parents, who had to deal with me when I was a kid. All the questions I asked, all the things I did out of curiosity, all the times I made them mad, things started to make sense.
He also comments on every single thing, exposing his curiosity out in the open, flooding words into my brain. And I can’t seem to focus on anything, and everything is blurred by his comments.
He thinks a lot as well, and likes to connect points together. He starts seeing the life equations, that one thing leads to another and ends with a result. He starts asking, “How” and “Why” so much, and leads his own inner discussion which ends in a very matured conclusion.
And spending time with him clearly makes me think of children in general. Of course, I happen to be a child.
My parents did a great job, considering how I had so many questions too when I was young. Just like my cousin. That made me wonder how I made it through puberty and all without being murdered by those who had to look after me.
I remember once when I was 11, I talked about the law of gravity and mixed it with my own 11 year old philosophy. I remember the look on my dad’s face, who went, “What were you reading just now?” I swear he went pale for a good minute before walking away.
To Daddy, I am sorry for what I’d asked you many years ago.
Now I sort of understand what my parents had to deal with. As my little cousin keeps firing questions at me, I wonder, “What did he just watch? How did he get to that idea?” but most importantly, “How am I supposed to answer this?”
And it’s fascinating how much information flies through him, and the kind of questions he fires at me afterwards. It’s like watching a creation of something wonderful, and taking a part in it through carefully crafted answers and proper responses.
I say carefully crafted answers, because he asks a lot of things that are beyond wikipedia.
Such as, “Can we find dragons on the mountains? Shall we go?”
Don’t even ask me how I responded to that, I can’t remember anymore. I sure hope I had rejected the invitation to dragon hunt with him.
But children are curious creatures, and honest ones too. It’s as if they are glad to cut open their heads to show you how the gears are turning in their brains. They’re excited to share with you their curiosity, and expect you to know the answers to their questions.
They ask the most honest, basic questions, so straightforward that you might be confused on how to answer them.
And they pile up and up as the children start making sense of things, connecting each dot and discovering answers.
Let me just share the questions I had to deal with two nights ago at midnight:
“Are the Greek gods real? Is Zeus real? Is Hades real? What happened to them, are they all real? Are they related to Thor, Freya, Loki, and the others? Are they related to the Egyptian gods?”
“Oh? That’s a story? Can you tell me what happened to Demeter? Who’s Persephone?”
“So, people explain natural occurrences through stories about gods?”
“Why do people do that? Can’t they just explain them through science?”
“Why didn’t they know much science then? Were they not that smart?”
“How did people start thinking about gods?”
“Why did they believe?”
As much fun as they’re having discovering knowledge, it is exhausting for us the answering machines.
I finally got to rest my eyes and brain at 2 AM, and I was too tired to think of anything else… other than worry about, “What is he gonna ask me tomorrow?”
Apparently more and more questions.
Now I know why mothers wish they could have their “me time”… and please don’t ask me why…