Motherhood

“Does The Universe End,” And Other Casual Questions from a Five-Year-Old

Anton

Last night, Anton and I went for a walk around the block. Suddenly, he turned to me and asked…

“Does that universe end? Like, is there a wall?”

Um, big questions, Anton!

We passed a man walking his dog, and a yellow taxi drove by, and I told him about the universe expanding, and the work of astronomers and astronauts. Then we went home to have a piece of Halloween candy. How magical are kids’ questions? They just drop them into regular chit chat. Apparently, children ask an average of 73 questions a day, which sounds about right!

Here are a few more that Anton has busted out lately:

Is infinity a number?
Is the moon really always following you?
How do you make water?
Do you bury bodies or just skeletons? Can I dig one up? Why not?
Will you get a cramp if you eat and then swim? What about if you swim and then eat? What if you eat, then drink, then swim, then sleep, then jog?
Can you believe that living things MAKE living things? Like, BIRTH living things?
Where are you before you are born?
Do you need to pay the bank to get some money?
Why can’t I see my eyes?!

My friend Leigh once told me her theory of “the fourth question.” She said that when her kids ask questions — like “where do babies come from?” or “how do people think of dreams?” — and then they ask a follow-up, and then another follow-up, by the time you get to the fourth question, you’re explaining the meaning of life. Every damn time.

What have the kids in your life been interested in recently? It’s a big crazy world out there! I’d love to hear…

P.S. Talking about sex and death with kids, and 13 brilliant reader comments on parenting.

(Photo of Anton in Cornwall.)

  1. Should you have a few minutes, i highly recommend watching Kelly o’Brien’s short doc “how does life live?”, a collection of touching questions by her young daughter:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PBW5U9vjoVE

  2. Glen says...

    My 5 year old wanted to know how mangets work. So, being the geeky engineer that I am, I start explaining about magnetic fields and poles and how even the Earth has a magnetic field. She stops me and says “Mom, I don’t understand. Tell me again when I’m older.”

  3. Meg says...

    One morning, when my daughter was four, she told me all about a bad dream she’d had the night before and concluded, “it was a terrible terrible nightmirror.”
    Me: “Why do you always call them nightmirrors instead of nightmares?”
    Her: “I thought it was nightmirror because if you look at it you see what’s in your head. Whenever I think I see a nightmirror I say, don’t look! don’t look! But then I look.”

    • KylieO says...

      This is amazing! So creative and clever!

  4. Jodi says...

    I *love* the fourth question theory. So true.

  5. I remember asking my Dad the exact same question when I was that age. And he was explaining to me, that what happens if we make a hole in the wall, what’s behind the wall? And it dawned on me that infinity is this thing where when I start thinking about it, my head starts to spin and I get goosebumps. To this day, thinking of the vastness of the universe makes me absolutely in awe.

  6. My youngest daughter turns five in a couple of weeks. The other morning she confided, “Mom, when I’m not four anymore, I promise to love you five-ever.”

    Her six-year-old sister was recently baffled by a small bowl of kosher salt. “Hey, look! Pretzel seeds!”

  7. Nicole says...

    At Westville, while deciding what to order, my daughter (5) looks up and says “Mama, is everybody going to die?”

    “Yes, they are, but not anytime soon. Would you like macaroni and cheese?”

  8. Ksh says...

    Some of the gems my 5 yr old has said in past year are
    1) If God let go of the sky, will it fall on our head.
    2) why is my own body making me sick? (After a week of cough and fever )
    3) grandpa and grandma had their own babies once? Why?

    And many more. It reminds me to keep a journal. Coz I cannot recall so many of them.

  9. Suzanne says...

    When my sister was 4 she had a best friend. His skin was black hers white. My mom always wondered if my sister had any questions about the different skin colors. Then one day while they were sunbathing, my mom heard her ask: Greg (Gregory) do you get white when you lay in the sun?

    • Jane Doe says...

      I find that extremely fascinating. My husband’s brother is black, and it seems like my daughters never even notice. They are 2 and 5 now and have never asked anything about his skin. They do notice it on others, sometimes, and the 5 y o is interested but was happy with my explanation that we all look different, don’t we?
      It made me realize two things:
      1) Nobody is born rascist
      2) When CoJ ran Joanna’s beauty uniform a couple of years ago, she said something very wise about how their loved ones always seem to be perfect for kids because they see the essence, not the outside. Now our uncle IS beautiful, of course, but it seems to be the same principle – they don’t even see that Dad is white and Uncle is black, they just love them both very much for what they are!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for this discussion! you also might enjoy reading the thoughts from two wonderful women about raising race-conscious children: https://cupofjo.com/2016/10/raising-race-conscious-children/ — i found it really enlightening/valuable.
      thank you!!
      xoxoox joanna

  10. Pamela says...

    Why am I growing now and you grew before me and really old people came before you? Why did I come now?

    Yesterday from my 4 year old. The ‘fourth question’ is right in there from the outset!

  11. Asha says...

    Such delightful yet deep thoughts. My 5 yo son always likes to ask what my favorite animal is or what animal I’d pick to be, but before I answer he tries to guess. Sometimes I have to change it up to keep it interesting. I love trying to brainstorm with him why a creature would be fun to be. So far my favorite discussion was about my choice of being a vulture. I love how social they are! So we spent the remainder of the day watching the vultures where ever we went (living in Austin, this isn’t hard). My older son (8) has become more interested in mediation and reincarnation. So we get to the “4th question” after the 2nd. I listen to his ideas and experiences with wonder at how deep his thoughts can be and how we can swing from this discussion to why he is the only kid in his class who doesn’t have Roblox yet…”I know, it’s called non-attachment, right mom?” sigh…

  12. Natalie says...

    Anton just normalized a memory from my own childhood! I distinctly remember being about the same age, sitting in a recliner while my dad napped on a couch nearby, and wondering to myself how it’s possible for the universe to be infinite. And then I started crying because, what an overwhelming thought for a small person! But I was also embarrassed for crying, thankfully my dad didn’t wake up until after I regained my composure because I couldn’t imagine how I would begin to explain why I was upset!

    • Mari says...

      OMG! Is this like a regular thing for everyone? I was also probably Anton’s age when I came up with the “wall theory”. I also burst into tears. To this day, it’s still makes me super overwhelmed to think about the universe, like I could cry at any time just by thinking about “infinite”. Weird.
      ps: what caused me to freak out was that I was sure there’s was a wall at the end of the universe. But then, there would have to have something behind the wall. And then another wall. And then something. An so on.

    • Natalie says...

      Yes! Mari, I feel you. Infinity is terrifying. And now it makes sense why children crave boundaries.

    • Meg says...

      I used to have kid panic-attacks thinking about infinity! Once in the heat of a Texas summer six-year-old me crawled under the porch to freak out about it. My big brother crawled in after me. He said, ‘It’s scary because it’s like a line that goes on and on in both directions, right? And you can’t see the ends?’ I sniffle nod. He reaches out into the grass and pulls a hula hoop in with us. In the dusty dark, bright light streaming in lines over our faces from cracks in the porch, he hands it to me. ‘In your mind, just reach your arms out as wide as you can. Grab the line with both hands and bend it into a circle. Then you can see the whole thing.’ I still do this when I’m anxious!

    • Frances says...

      Beth,
      I’m a 20 year old college student… TEARS! Loved this.

  13. Franzi says...

    The best part of kids questions are their own answers. Usually, they already have an idea how things might work. So much fun collecting their thougths!

  14. We have Google in our kitchen and we sometimes make her answer our kids’ questions…like how do you spell (insert word)? Very useful for doing homework. Sometimes they will have fun with her and ask her silly things like “Ok Google, what’s my favorite food?”

  15. Michelle says...

    the other great book focused solely on religion is
    Relax, It’s Just God: How and Why to Talk to Your Kids About Religion When You’re Not Religious.

  16. Michelle says...

    Joanna,
    My boys ask BIG questions all the time. The best book ever is
    Big Questions from Little People and Simple Answers from Great Minds.
    Questions like “Why do we poop?” is an ongoing chapter request!
    Best. Ever.

  17. My two-year-old is really into figuring out relationships. She’s also really into clocks that chime (these two facts eventually come together). One evening she was lying on the couch with my husband, talking about her babysitter. “Mae is your teacher,” he said.

    “Oh,” she said, thinking. “Mommy teacher?”

    “No,” my husband said, “Mommy is your parent.”

    “Oh. Daddy…grandfather clock?”

    We both completely lost it. And our daughter, who clearly meant it as a joke, got the BIGGEST grin.

    • Kristen says...

      Ha!! This reminded me of a classic story about my brother-in-law’s first joke — soon after his younger brother was born and also soon after the family got a fancy new refrigerator. He pointed at one of his mother’s breasts and said “Milk comes from here?” Then he pointed at her other breast and said “Ice comes from here?” He’s still the funniest one in the family.

  18. Jenny says...

    My 2 year old is always asking questions that get deeper and deeper (and often past my knowledge of things). It’s funny and sometimes exhausting, but I was very amused to realize that when I reach the end of my ability to answer often there are two responses that both work:
    “It’s a thing” or “It’s a truth universally acknowledged.”
    When I feel a little like I’m just giving up (and feel like saying the first version), saying the second one amuses me (and he doesn’t seem to mind, plus I’m expanding his vocab!;).

    Ps. love the question about why can’t he just dig up a skeleton…whew!

  19. Eileen says...

    One of my faves was after a particularly exasperating bedtime experience, my then 3 year old comes down for the 18th time with one more question:

    Do you know the muffin man?
    My reply: Yes, he lives on Mulberry lane.

  20. Lindsay says...

    My oldest is three and a half. Over the weekend, I sat him down with the Amazon Prime Christmas toy book, really just giving him something to look at while I readied breakfast. I told him to circle everything he wanted, which was EVERYTHING. But then after a few minutes, he asked, “Momma, what do YOU want for Christmas?” My heart nearly burst there on the spot as I told him one thing I wanted and then fully blew up when he made a mark on his arm. I asked him why he marked on his arm. “That’s my list, Momma!” (I write “important” things on my hands all the time.) He made a list of what I wanted for Christmas! Yes, I fully died right there on the spot, only to be revived by him telling me that he added a toy for himself to the list, too. :)

  21. Ella says...

    My son, 3.5, was crying about a minor disappointment and taking it hard. Then he looked at me and asked, “when do grownups cry”? Looking for connection and affirmation because he sometimes feels self conscious about being out of control.. It started quite a few interesting, moving conversations.

    • Lacey says...

      My nephew did the exact same thing! He was having a very emotional day, and feeling a bit sorry for himself I think, and said “No one else cries!” To which my sister promptly responded, “They do! I promise! Everyone cries.” He thought about it for a minute and then went on to ask, specifically, about every member of his family (immediate and extended) just to be sure that yes, everyone cries. (“Okay, but does Auntie Lacey cry?” “Baby, I’m fairly certain she’s crying right now.” And I was.)

  22. My daughter’s Waldorf school Kindergarten teacher discouraged direct/scientific answers to questions (out of the pedagogy that it discourages imaginative capabilities for small children). But, what to do instead? Her solution: Just start singing! Question: Where do clouds come from? Answer: Oh la la, the lovely puffy clouds, la la, are floating right by! Not every question must be filled with an answer.

  23. Carla says...

    But Why? Podcast is fantastic

    • Michelle says...

      Yes! I work at the station that produces the show, Vermont Public Radio, and was just scrolling here to see if anyone had mentioned it. Hit me up Jo if you want to do a kids’ podcast post!

  24. In my early childhood development classes at Sarah Lawrence College, I was assigned this magnificent little book, which posits that children are genuinely grappling with the same philosophical questions as adults, but more deeply because they do not yet have so much structured socialized knowledge. I think you might really enjoy it, Joanna! Of course it’s available on amazon as well. http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674666061

  25. This past week my nearly 4 year old son became obsessed with Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets” and as we listened to it for the third time in a row he asks “Mom, why does she have electric boots?”.

  26. Sara says...

    When my daughter was about six, she asked me if “there was color” when I was born. When I asked her what she meant, she eventually explained that all the photographs and movies of “the olden days” were black and white. She honestly thought that someone invented color one day and that before then, the world itself was black and white.

    • Stefanie says...

      my son asked this as well!

    • Rebecca says...

      Okay, sort of embarrassing, but I genuinely had this same question when I was kid! I remember thinking it didn’t make sense, but I had heard adults say, “everything used to be in black in white”, obviously meaning just pictures and television, but the “everything” really stumped me. Apparently kids are quite literal :)

  27. How do you make water?! I love it!

  28. Sally says...

    A 4-year-old asked me who made God? I didn’t have an answer to that.

  29. wait wait wait. Is Anton really FIVE already? holy cow.

  30. Dee says...

    When my son (who is now 32) was 5, the first week after turning the clocks back I arrived at day care to pick him up. He was crying and asking why I left him there all the way to the night time. My heart still hurts when I think of this and how he was worried I wasn’t coming to get him.

    • Carrie says...

      Awww that’s so sad!!

  31. Jill says...

    After a long silence, while I laid in the bed in the dark with my three year old as he was going to sleep he asked “Mom, do giraffes have hands?”

    • Ashley W says...

      Jill, I don’t know why I laughed SO HARD at this. I think about all the sweetness of clean baby in bed….and then them asking something so unusual! Did you just BURST OUT laughing??

    • Megan says...

      :D Hillllarious

    • Alison says...

      I laughed so much at this too! It really captures that thing of parenting where you’re assuming/hoping they’re getting sleepy and you’re so tired…and then they just say this thing that makes you get that their baby brains have been going in this CRAZY direction the whole time and it’s NO WHERE toward sleep. Also, it’s just a super-funny question. Jill’s kid is going to be pretty great.

  32. Sarah says...

    I love asking my daughter questions just to see where she’s at. When she was barely two, I asked where she had been before coming to live in my tummy, and then with her daddy and me.

    She replied “Ummmm…on vacation!?”

  33. Susanne says...

    “mama, who MADE God?”
    “God ‘made’ all people. until they were old enough to make babies on their own”
    “has there been anything before the world was made? and how did that happen?”

    nice to hear I’m not the only mom who has kind of metaphysical afternoon-class at home.

  34. Annie says...

    I visited my sister one day and my niece (about 5 years old at the time) was playing with a friend. After a moment, I heard my niece pronounce my name. I turned to respond to her but I realised my niece was polling her friend about me. The game was titled “How well do you know my aunt?” and she was asking her all sort of questions like “Do you think my aunt lives with her boyfriend?” and “How old do you think she is?”. I had a good laugh listening to two five years old talking about my life.

  35. Sarah says...

    Seeing Anton’s sweet smile is especially heartening this morning; my 4 and a half year old fell into the coffee table last night (vigorous pillow fight) and now has a giant lip and loose front tooth. 😕 We’re off to the dentist this morning, and, well, I’m just feeling grateful that it’s a baby tooth!

  36. Dee says...

    My 6yo son asked me last week: “Mom, was I born – like really born????” Then takes a pause, and says, “Or am i adopted?” Hilarious. I think we have been watching too much Modern Family around him, he knows Lily is adopted 😊

  37. Rebecca says...

    Mum, why don’t the clouds fall out of the sky?

  38. Meghan says...

    >”Can you believe that living things MAKE living things? Like, BIRTH living things?”

    No, Anton, I cannot believe it. I truly can’t! When I was pregnant with my first child, I would rest my hands on my belly and try to comprehend the magnitude and the strangeness of my body making and then pushing a new soul into this earth. It was simply too much. Then, exactly six years ago, I gave birth, and the years following have been busy and not very contemplative. But the mystery of birth still threatens to break my brain when I consider it!

    • Jackie O'Brien says...

      Same! Truly a miracle, each and every time. I cannot believe it.

  39. Colleen says...

    The other day while in a drive-thru waiting, with the Muppets Christmas Carol movie playing on the DVD player…minutes after I hear one of the characters say that someone was dead…and in recent weeks trying to explain to my 4 year old son why we wear a poppy and how important it is, he asks: “Mama, if we get killed, what happens to our house?”…I honestly didn’t know in the moment how to give the right answer to that but it just broke my heart to think that at this age this could even be a thought or a fear.

    Last night was better, while laying in bed he says “I heard a man on the radio, and he said ‘taking care of biscuits everyday, we be taking care of biscuits everyday!’ ahhh that’s better, I thought to myself.

  40. Amanda says...

    Once when I was babysitting a friend’s children, the oldest asked me about her younger brother: “Before I was born, were me and Riley playing together in Mommy’s tummy?” I loved that picture so much! I’ve been in the process of IVF for the last several months, trying to bank as many embryos as possible before trying to transfer one to my uterus, and even though it’s silly and totally unscientific, it’s kind of fun to lighten up this extremely stressful season by imagining our embryos hanging out together just waiting to be born :)

  41. Kate says...

    I never assume I’ll have children (it just hasn’t happened and dent look like it will, which I’m ok with) but reading your stories and experiences with Anton and Toby makes me think how lovely all those little moments of Motherhood are :) They seem quite magical from this side of the story. x

  42. Abbey says...

    I couldn’t love this more. I’m a nanny and the 5 year-old in my life has been on fire lately. People think I’m joking when I tell them my degree in Philosophy serves me well as a nanny. I absolutely LOVE when the big unanswerables come thick and fast out of the mouths of babes.

  43. Adrienne says...

    The other day, my 5-year-old daughter looked at me sweetly and said, “Mama, when you get old and die, can I have your phone?”

  44. Heather says...

    Ha! The timing of this…not 20 minutes ago (in at least a partial attempt to put off bedtime) my 6-year-old said, “So I just have one question…how do humans even exist?”

  45. Kristian says...

    I love these all so much!

    Also- probably not the answer to give a curious kindergartener buuuuuut…. you can dig up dead bodies, if you’re an archaeologist! Which is something I’d never considered till reading Anton’s question.

  46. Maiz says...

    Those questions from Anton remind me so much of the questions that my 14 year old used to ask when he was five. My son is still so philosophical. He is sitting a few feet away from me right now, quietly doing his homework while I read these wonderful comments to myself. Without even knowing that I was deep in memories, he just looked up at me and said, “It’s such a shame that we won’t know each other our whole lives.”

    • Annnd this new mom currently breastfeeding her ten-day-old boy is now crying. Your son sounds like such a beautiful soul!

    • Lee Ann says...

      I have read your son’s comment over and over- just wow. I feel my heart breaking a little!

    • OK well this just broke my heart x

    • agnes merat says...

      so beautiful. I think that about my son, which is quite natural I suppose, but the fact that it could work both ways is quite fantastic…

    • Mirte says...

      So wise and so sweet <3

    • Bonnie says...

      Wow – THAT has to be the ultimate compliment for you, Mom! What a son you’re raising.

    • JennP says...

      How precious!

    • Ashley W says...

      You know….I’ve recently come into the belief of multiple lives, which my grandmother used to casually insert into our conversations. She passed away when I was 18, but I’ll never forget her talking about a dear, younger male friend that she wholeheartedly believed was a child in a previous version of herself. I really loved the idea that their relationship transcended one lifetime. I’m not asking you to believe that as well, but I do think it’s a beautiful thought, and it sounds like your relationship with your own son is incredibly special. What a thoughtful person you’ve got!

    • anne says...

      Maiz, your comment brought tears to my eyes…

      “It’s such a shame that we won’t know each other our whole lives.”

      I remember flipping through my parents’ wedding photos when I was little and getting soooooo upset at them for not inviting me to their wedding! I wanted to be at their wedding so badly! They only knew me when they were 31, what a shame!

      And now I am 33 years old, and as a very sentimental person, I live with a constant worry that my parents will leave this world one day. They most probably won’t be here with me until the end of my own life, which makes me sad.

      Thanks for sharing this philosophical quote from your son. xoxo

    • claire says...

      The sweetest. My aunt’s theory: our babies look like old people because parents don’t get a chance to see them when they really ARE old and gray. I love this thought. It gave me great comfort looking into that littlest -oldest- man face those first few weeks.

    • JP says...

      This took my breath away.

    • Lindsay says...

      I hope everyone scrolls down far enough to read this. You’ve brought tears to everyone’s eyes! What a sweet son you have.

      And Ashley W., I love your comment as well. Such a sweet thought.

      My 10 month old daughter is already fast asleep but tomorrow morning I know I’ll shed a little tear just looking at her and wondering if we perhaps knew each other in a past life <3

  47. Joy says...

    My 8 y/o this week, “what does a jacket look like in a black hole?”

  48. Nicole Andrews says...

    Oh, yes–crazy things happen after the third question! My three year old and I were chatting about Egypt, and she asks a benign question about mummies. Then, if anyone believes in Osiris anymore. Then, if Osiris is a myth, is our god a myth? Then…is our god dying, mom? How would we know? (part of me adores the curiosity, and part of me is tired, haha).

    • Jennifer says...

      “Part of me adores the curiosity, part of me is tired.” <— This.

  49. Julie says...

    When she was about 4, my niece walked from adult to adult in the backyard at a BBQ (4 or 5 of us), taking a poll: “which do you prefer, coffee or Disneyland?” Her mind was completely blown that we all picked coffee. I love their funny questions.

    • Maiz says...

      HAHAHA! That must be the definition of adulthood.

  50. Ramona says...

    3-year-old: “Mama, what is a loose tooth? What is a front tooth? What is a Bluetooth?”

    Also:

    Her: “Are all babies green when they are born?”

    Me: “Green?”

    Her: “Yes, green. Like Peter Pan’s shoes.” (She has a baby sister who is not and never has been green…I have no idea.)

  51. Shannon says...

    I am a kindergarten teacher (in Brooklyn!) and I feel utterly stumped by all 29 of them–hourly! I wrote this poem after one particularly sweet wondering:

    We turn the clocks back and the next day my kindergarteners come in, confused.
    Why it’s morning now? They ask me
    All day it’s like this, petite noticings and five-year-old language makes me tear up, then laugh at how much they don’t know they teach me.

    <3

    • Emily says...

      Such a sweet poem. I hope my kindergartner’s teacher sees wonder in her students like you do.

  52. Allison says...

    Tonight my 4-year-old son said to me, “I want to stop growing now. Tell God.”

    • Ashley e W says...

      hahahaha! “Tell God”
      I’ll get right on that, buddy. hahahahahah sweetness.

  53. Alicia says...

    As a math major, I want to answer “Is infinity a number?” with a “sort of.” One way to use infinity is to describe size and how we count, so in that way it’s similar to numbers. For example, how many integers exist? There are infinity. But there are also different sizes of infinity, where the proper term is “cardinality”. For example, how many real numbers are there? That’s also infinity, but different than how many integers there are. For example if I count 0.01 and 0.02 while I’m counting real numbers, I can’t say there isn’t a real number I’m skipping over, because there is 0.015, whereas for integers I can say I count 1 and 2, and there’s no integer in between.
    Maybe this is a little to term-y to explain to kids, but I guess an okay (but not great) analogy is how many stars exist in the universe and how many drops of water there are in the ocean. Both are infinity, but one is easier to count than the other.

    • Kate says...

      I love this. So there’s infinity between numbers/integers, and infinity integers? Kind of? I love the stars/water analogy a lot.

  54. Kerri says...

    My son is five and asks the best questions as We snuggle in my bed at nighttime. He was juuuuust about asleep when he slipped his hand onto my pregnant belly and says, “I just have one more question for tonight… what is every little thing that happens in there to grow a baby?” Haha ummmm, we will Google it tomorrow kid, go to sleep.

    • Mary says...

      The sweetest ❤️

  55. Ali says...

    During story time not so long ago our eldest asked – “But if a baby is in your tummy how do you get it out?!” After explaining it to him he goes, “Wow! That is an interesting fact!” and then he was straight back into story time.

    He hasn’t asked how the baby got in there.. yet… haha

    • Molly K says...

      My four-year-old: “Did you eat a baby, or how does it get in your belly?”

    • Kerri says...

      Hahaha my 5 year old son told his little sister that daddy gives mommy sperm from his penis to make babies and that he is going to give his wife sperm some day. I’m glad they haven’t asked yet how he gave it to me 🙊

  56. Yr hmbl prnt says...

    When Joanna (yes, the same) was almost five, we were riding up on a chairlift together during an after-Christmas skiing venture. She snuggled against me and said softly, “Daddy, …thank you for life.”
    My vision blurred with tears as I stumbled over expressing how pleased I was to know her and to watch her grow up, how excited I was to be with her in this beautiful place and how much…. She moved around on the bench and turned toward me with a quizzical look.
    “Daddy, I was talking about LIFE, you know, …the boardgame, the Christmas present?”

    • Karen says...

      GOLD!!!! BURN!!!!

    • Hvu says...

      hahaha. I had the same conversation with my daughter who was at the age of repeating new phrases she learned at preschool.
      Over dinner one day, she looked over at me and said, “Mommy i’m so lucky you’re my mother.”
      I was especially touched because I’ve been working really hard on teaching her to eat well, and feeding her health food. quite please with myself, grinning at the husband.
      Then she went, “Mom why am i happy to have you?”
      I dropped from the clouds and my husband had a great laugh.

    • Simone says...

      Reminds me of my 4 year old: “Mama, thank you for making this dinner for us!” I beamed, then he continued, “it’s not great, but you tried hard!”

    • Alice says...

      Haaaaaaa Joanna your dad is BRILLIANT. Stifling giggles in the office!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahha, hi dad! :)

    • Kelsey says...

      So sweet to read this funny comment from Joanna’s dad! 💛

    • Jeannie says...

      Hahahaha, so much sweetness and hilarity!! I also love that your parents read the blog, and are regularly a part of it. ;) it’s lovely.

  57. T says...

    My nieces and nephews have figured out that I don’t lie. Not even to them. This is fine except for – you guessed it, SANTA! On Christmas Day. Miss 8 approached me, forlorn that her 10yo sister no longer believes in Santa and says that only babies do! Gah! What to do without lying? I collected myself and then told her the truth. I pointed out the half of our family who hate fun, always complain and just sit and sulk. I said, see those guys, they’ve lost the magic, you get to choose whether or not you want magic in your life. Whether it’s real or just a symbol doesn’t matter, maybe Santa is a real person or maybe he just symbolizes generosity and kindness and reminds us to be good. Those are both good things that you can choose. It’s only up to you. She loved it! I didn’t lie and she still has the magic of Christmas!

    • Rae says...

      Brilliant : )

    • Heather says...

      That is just perfect!

    • Kate says...

      I love this! I am saving for when my little guy asks me the inevitable “is Santa real?” question

  58. Lindsey says...

    The other day my 4-year-old found a random tampon and asked my husband what it was. James (foregoing the easy option, which is to be vague!) replied, “it absorbs the blood that is released from mom’s uterus when she menstruates every month.” (Thanks, husband. 🙄) My kid runs to find me and yells, “Mom!!! Dad isn’t telling me the truth! He is joking about your uterus bleeding!” Cut to me explaining my monthly cycle in simple but detailed enough terms to satisfy the…. inquisition. A few days later at dinner Leo goes, “mom, are you bleeding out of your vagina right now? You bleed, but grandma is too old and Calla (our next door neighbour) is too little.” Whether or not someone bleeds out of their vagina is now a new way for him to categorize the world. Lucky me. I’m just waiting for him to ask a random check out person. #help 🤣🤷🏼‍♀️

    • Heather says...

      Dying laughing! I hope I am in line behind you when that question is asked! ;)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “Whether or not someone bleeds out of their vagina is now a new way for him to categorize the world.” = laughing so much. this is amazing, and you sound like such a great mom! :)

    • freya says...

      oh my god hahaha

  59. elena says...

    When my son was like eight, we were walking across a bridge, holding hands, in December. It was snowing. He stopped and asked, out of the blue, Mom, Santa doesn’t exist, right?
    I felt I couldn’t lie and told him the truth, and he burst into tears… and I couldn’t help but crying as well, so suddenly we were hugging and crying under the snow because his childhood was over, ahaha.

    In Italy children believe in Befana as well. She is an old lady who brings them gifts on January 6th
    So. After some days, he was having breakfast one morning before school. He stopped eating, looked at me and asked, and Befana? She isn’t real either? I think I made a puzzled face because I just didn’t expect he could still have doubts. He realized she doesn’t exist and started crying again, but at that point I had to make a big effort not to laugh.

    • Carrie says...

      I love this whole comment!!

  60. This is why I chose to work with kids after I graduated medical school. They really do amaze me every day with their resilience and curiosity. One shift I was taking care of a VERY sick 5 year old who came in unconscious. As we were preparing to resuscitate him (think CPR) and I was assessing him, he was really not responding to me AT ALL when suddenly when he opens his eyes, looks at my right hand (I wear my wedding band on the right) and said to me “why are you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong side??” He was SO out of it and yet he had to know what the deal was with my wedding ring!

    Kids are the best. They make this crazy job so worth it.

    • Nicole says...

      this is so sweet!

  61. Nicole Jackson says...

    In the grocery store the other day, I was basically narrating the shopping list to my 3 yr old. Toward the end, I said “ok bud we only need one more thing, then we’re done.” He busted out with… “Yeah mama, we only need one more thing…. RESPECT!”

  62. Mac says...

    The fourth question! So true. My just barely turned 4 year old has been asking lately “does it hurt when your body goes off of you?” 😳 Wow, okay. A lot to unload there but “I don’t know..what do you think?” is usually what I go with.

  63. Emily says...

    My almost 2 year old uses all 73 of his daily questions to ask, “what’s that?”!

    • MB says...

      Or 730 questions!!

    • Michelle Bengson says...

      Hahaha! Mine too.

  64. I think your kids would love the But Why? podcast. My daughter’s question got featured this last week on spiders and she was so.excited!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so cool, reem!!

    • Michelle Owens says...

      That’s so great! I work for the public radio station that produces this show and I thought of this immediately when I read this post!

  65. Courtney says...

    When my partner and I were camping last weekend, the little boy in the site beside us kept asking his mum, “but why?” I thought her answer was SO genius– every time, she just replied, “why not?” Definitely using that one someday!

  66. Anya says...

    My son’s biggest question is “Who are G-d’s parents?” (in Judaism). How did G-d happen to be G-d? How was this profession chosen?

  67. Courtney says...

    On a somewhat unrelated note, but still relevant to the motherhood stuff, has there ever been a post about step-parenting? I recently became a step parent, and it has not been easy (I do not have my own children). I feel like CoJ would do an awesome job discussing it! All the info I have found so far is along the lines of “I hate my stepchild” or “omg you are a horrible person for not loving all children” with not much in between the extremes :(. With the current divorce rate there has got to be some other thoughtful people in the same boat as me?! Thanks :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      courtney, thank you so much for your question! we are actually working on a stepparent post right now. it should be up in december or january! xo

  68. Liza Lundmark says...

    On our way home from kindergarten we pass by a cemetary. My son who is almost four asked if the dead people buried there get cold when there is snow on the ground. No, i said, they dont feel anything anymore. We only bury a dead body. He thinks about it and says with a very serious voice: and dead vaginas.

    • Savannah says...

      I peed a little I laughed so hard!

    • MM says...

      This made me LOL.

    • lindsay says...

      this made me snort-laugh! i love it!

  69. Lisa Zieger says...

    One of my favorite funny things about conversations like these with kids is how equally fast they transition from heavy, meaningful topics right back to the mundane. While I’m spinning up an answer to the 3rd question about what happens when a person dies, my 6 year old’s already transitioned to how funny it is that his feet smell at the end of the day. <3

  70. Bobbi says...

    There is a theory in continuous improvement practices (specifically LEAN Office) that if you ask “why?” five times you’ll get to the bottom of why a certain process is failing. Why do you send the paperwork to HR before you send it to the team leader for approval? etc, etc.

    I like to use this theory to get to the bottom of my boyfriend’s reasoning for doing things that annoy me. :)

    • Wow I love this!! Definitely stealing for use all over my life.

    • Elly says...

      Healthcare professional here and VERY familiar with the 5 Whys. It is definitely applicable to all aspects of work and life.

  71. Rachel says...

    Yesterday my four year old told me all about “ocean,” the smallest number in the world, which comes before zero. It is similar to the ocean (with water) because it is also blue. Hilarious and also strangely profound.

  72. Candace says...

    My daughter is only 1, so we haven’t been able to put this in to practice quite yet, but instead of immediately answering the question (as best you can depending on age of the child) a co-worker of mine will first ask her kiddo what they think the answer is (which I imagine may be even funnier than the question being asked). I thought this was such a great way to encourage individual thinking and imagination and then leading into a discussion! (Maybe all parents do this but it definitely struck me as a new mom!)

    • Kristian Olson says...

      brilliant “mom hack”

  73. Courtney says...

    My 3 year old nephew will start with, “I’d like to see a whale. Can you please pull up a photo of a whale on your phone?” and before you know it, you’re at:
    “This is not the whale I was thinking of…can you show me another whale?”
    “Wow! That blue whale looks similar to a humpback whale. Can you Google all the differences and read them aloud to me?”
    “Wait…how much do all these whales weigh? Smallest? Biggest? Middle-est?”
    “Are whales longer than the longest snake?”

    This isn’t to whales either. These spiraling thoughts can be applied to ANYTHING. My Google history is always hilarious when I’ve been with him.

  74. Erin says...

    My 4 year old asked me the other day: “when I was a baby in your tummy, how did I get out? Is there a door in there?”
    I just love their innocent little questions.

    • Louisa says...

      My four year old recently was talking about how hard it must be for elephants to be born. Come to find out she thought she exited through the nose. In a sneeze.

    • Jane says...

      OMG. Louisa and Erin- so funny. My son thinks that all boys come from tummies ( he was born C-section) and girls come from “maginas” (his sister was born VBAC).

    • Elle says...

      My youngest son (3 yo) got in a full on argument with my husband last week about how he grew in Daddy’s belly (favorite parent…but we were both belly laughing). And my favorite question from my older son was at about 3 when he asked if, when he was in my belly, he saw his little brother in there too. So cute. So profound.

    • M. says...

      My best friend’s younger brother thought babies were pooped out. They found this out when he started crying hysterically during a particularly productive bathroom session and he explained that he’d just had a baby…

  75. Mary says...

    Omg when I was a kid I also wondered whether there was a wall at the end of the universe..but then if so, what was on the other side of the wall?!?! This boggled my mind for ages.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it still boggles my mind!!!

    • Amanda says...

      I was with a friend at a bar this weekend where they had a show about the universe on a screen…. I asked my friend, “Do you ever just freak out about how huge the Universe is” and he said, “I sometimes have a panic attack about just the EARTH.” And we (both totally sober) just stared at the screen for a while, lost in thought. HOW.

  76. agnes says...

    For several weeks, my 3 year old at the time (he is 5 now) asked me the same question every night: “where does the sun go at night?”. I gave the same scientific explanation every night, adding drawings, orange and lemon representations of a a sunset, more details, less details, nothing would satisfy him. One night I just got it: I told him that the sun was tired and ready to go to sleep, and that the night was his large heavy blanket with a few holes (the stars). He never asked again. he didn’t want science, he wanted poetry.

    • Kate says...

      ‘He didn’t want science; he wanted poetry’ – I love this so much!

    • Gill F. says...

      I love this so much, Agnes. Don’t we all want poetry sometimes?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that is so so sweet, agnes. i love that so much.

  77. Diana says...

    Hi Jo,
    It’s funny you posted this. I saw Anton and Toby at the playground just a couple of hours ago! I teach at a drama program for kids, and a three-year-old boy in my group proudly rode up to me on a tricycle and said, “That kid in the glasses did something very kind for me, he let me use this motorcycle!” And lo and behold, he was pointing at Anton (who was wearing very cool shades). 😎

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that is awesome, haha. i’m so glad to hear it!!! :)

  78. Susan says...

    My kids are teenagers now, so their questions are less cute, but I have a document with lists of the funny things they said when they were little. We read it together recently. A couple especially random ones:
    – Can God retire?
    – Do cows have armpits (+ do turkeys have armpits)?
    My teenagers were howling at the weird awesomeness of their former selves!

    • Aimee says...

      I sent my 8 year old nephew a copy of “Does It Fart?” earlier this year. The book was a little above his reading level at the time, but it apparently consumed his attention for several hours, skimming the entries for each animal, searching for language in the affirmative. He’s now my go-to on the subject should I find myself in a situation where I need to know, with any specificity, about animal flatulence. And now your comment has alerted me that there’s a whole other world we could explore (animal armpits.)

      Maybe over the holidays.

  79. Elisabet Nilsson says...

    My daughter once asked where she was when something happened “that was before you existed” I told her. “ok, so when I was in your tummy then” “no, before that” “ok, but where was I?” “it was before you even existed” “ok, I must have been with granny and grandpa then”

    • Sarah Beth says...

      My daughter– who will be three next week– is very into talking about what happens if you touch the sun. I tried to explain that you could never touch the sun, you would burn up, (But why?) that the sun is so big and so hot that it makes the whole world warm on a sunny day (but how big?) even though it is so far away (can we go there?) so far that we can never get there (this is turning into a philosophical q&a, just like the “fourth question!”) and my daughter, who has been paying very close attention and asking what I thought were good questions, looks at me and says “ok but if you touch the sun is it hot like the stove? will you get a rash?” so I was like, yeah you’ll get a rash on your hand if you touch the sun. I knew I was explaining too much, but where do you stop??

    • Amy says...

      Sarah Beth, no way! My kids (2 and 4) are always asking me the same question!! I too find myself providing way TMI about how you’d burn up or melt before you could touch it… probably not what they are looking for!

    • Mary says...

      Sarah Beth and Amy—
      It sounds like your kids would LOVE the song “Why does the sun shine?” By They Might Be Giants :)

  80. Marie says...

    My 8 year old daughter knows that her papa loves to talk about physics at great length, so she busts out the universe questions *right* at bedtime. She knows that will easily buy her another half hour before she has to go to sleep:)

    • cgw says...

      I used to do something similar. When I was growing up, dessert wasn’t a regular thing. But fruit consumption was encouraged. So just about ten minutes or so before bedtime I’d ask to eat some fruit. Of course, sometimes it also meant it needed to peeled or cut… yep. Worked every time, plus I got a tasty “goodnight snack”!

    • Erin says...

      Ha, my 8-year-old does this, too! Except that I’m a medical writer, so the bedtime-delay questions are things like “Mama, how does the flu vaccine work?” Gets me every time.

    • Haha, love this! I did the same as a child. As my parents were kissing me goodnight I would always bust out one of two questions…

      Tell me about the dinosaurs
      OR
      Tell me about the day I was born

    • gfy says...

      Can’t think of a more intelligent way to guarentee quality time with dad! Also, I think all people intuitively know they need wind down/transition time so that sleep comes easily…hence the practice of bedtime stories, etc. She is a very smart girl indeed!

  81. Elizabeth says...

    Sometimes I tell my 3 year-old all the places he traveled when he was in my tummy. The other day we were talking about something that happened in the past, and he simply asked if he was “in or out.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahahaha

  82. GL says...

    My 4 year old, last week, “Do spiders stink when they eat a stink bug?” I haven’t found a good answer on Google yet! I guess they would? I mean, they would have to, right?

    • Em says...

      In case it’s helpful, my cat found a stink bug the other day and ate it before I could intervene — and he oozed scent from every pore it seemed like! It was like cuddling with a giant, fluffy stink bug the rest of the day :-)

  83. Julia says...

    Last week, I joined my 6 yr old son at his speech therapy. He asked me in the presence of his logopedic therapist: “Mum, how old do you think, is she?” I said, blushing: “I think, you are a gentleman, and gentlemen do not ask about a lady’s age.” He would not stop: “Well, she looks like a grandmother….” Me: “You mean because of the color of her hair?” Therapist: ” I actually AM a grandmother!” My son: Yeah, she has hair like a grandmother, but her face is rather like your face, Mummy.”
    (Good for her, bad for me?!LOL)

  84. Andrea says...

    He sounds like a future scientist! Great questions.

  85. “By the way, who owns the whole world?” (7 year old)

    “You are the best Mom in the world in my life”
    – the precision of that statement!
    “I am telling you a secret: I will be a flower expert when I am grown.” (4 year old)

  86. Christina C. says...

    Question for you guys, now that it’s November… are you launching your gift guide this year? If so, when will we start seeing those posts? I ordered some gifts you guys mentioned last year and they were home runs!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we are planning on starting next monday, unless you would want them sooner! :)

    • Katie Larissa says...

      I want them ASAP! (Not to be needy or anything, but I love it when they happen before December.)

    • Joanna Hart says...

      I wasn’t wondering, too! Hanukkah is so early this year!!

    • Rachel says...

      I was looking so I could create MY list. My mother-in-law always wants our requests before Thanksgiving :-)

    • Steph says...

      Another vote for sharing the gift guide sooner!

      P.S. my parents request a Christmas list for all of my siblings and our kids by the end of SEPTEMBER each year. I’m all, I haven’t even figured out their Halloween costumes yet. ;)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we’re getting to work right now! hoping to have one ready for tomorrow, fingers crossed :) xoxoxo

  87. Julia says...

    When my kids ask philosophical questions or when they want to know a meaning of a particular word, I always ask: So, what do you think? and I get the most creative, funny or even wise answers. Only after listening to them I might start: “It is actually not exactly like that…”

  88. Dana says...

    Wow. These are impressive questions for 5. Think it says something great about your parenting, too. They can probably sense how much you value their curiosity. Enough to make them blog famous. :)

  89. Karen says...

    Sometimes the responses from parents are even funnier than the kids questions. Overheard this at the coffee shop last week:

    4 year old boy: Dad, how did you get a heart in your coffee?
    Dad: With love.
    4 year old boy: No dad, really tell me.
    Dad: When you love coffee enough, a heart will appear in your coffee.
    4 year old boy: Daaaad. Tell me.

    • Julia says...

      What a funny Dad!

    • Jessica says...

      Oh my gosh, LOVE this!

    • Sarah says...

      Hahahah!

    • jr says...

      omg this reminds me so much of how my dad was when i was a kid. amazing!

    • MissEm says...

      That is the best. I’m dying!

  90. Rachel says...

    Joanna – I so love hearing all about the boys questions and comments. My 4 year old daughter has asked some doozies lately. The specifics of those questions and conversations, I can’t remember, which brings me to ask: how do you keep track of the things the boys say? Do you write them down? Put them in the notes section of your phone? Have a book? Have a REALLY great memory?

    • Anna says...

      I used to email them to my sister with the same subject line so that I could search my email to find them all!

  91. Hannah says...

    My 2 1/2 year old daughter is very fascinated with babies in the tummy. Recently we were doing a facetime with the grandparents and she randomly pointed to my breasts and said “mommy has a baby in there!” They thought it was an announcement and we were like “No No No I do not!”

    • Lindsay says...

      This is too funny. I’m actually pregnant and my daughter is the same age. She hasn’t really cared that my stomach and boobs are so much larger than before. People keep asking when or if we have told her I’m having a baby. And so far we haven’t, I’m about 25 weeks. She is extremely verbal and I’m just assuming that she will point to every women’s round stomach and say “there’s a baby, nommy (how she says mommy)!” So I’m just waiting till I’m waiting till Christmas to start explaining. Purely selfish on my part to avoid some awkward interactions.

    • Maryann Moore says...

      By far my favorite quote from my son was at about 2 years old when he saw me coming out of the shower and said “mumma, I love your bajina.” I could not have laughed harder.

  92. P. says...

    And sometimes, it’s not a question. It’s a statement to a complete stranger in the very quiet book store that “My mom pees with the door open”.
    Yes. Yes, she does.

    • Hahahaha :)

    • A says...

      Oh this one made me cackle. hahahaha.

  93. Steph says...

    You know how little kids get all up in your business when you’re just trying to do your business? Well, my son once asked, with alarm, “Mom! Where’s your scrotum?!”

    • another momma says...

      my son already does this at 2.5 year old!
      Son – Mommy – push your wiener down when you pee!
      me – I don’t have a weiner
      son – you no have weiner?!?
      Me – nope, Mommies don’t have wieners…
      I’m in for a treat as this child gets older!

    • Tara says...

      After bath time last night, my 5 year old son reached down and exclaimed, “These things are just like balls!” Yup…

    • Caroline says...

      These conversations are best when had in the stall of a public restroom or public pool changing room.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      caroline, yes! hahahaha

    • Judith says...

      When my son was small, I overheard him saying something to his brother about ‘mummy’s willy’. . Later, I told him, you know that women don’t have willies? He said… well, mum, you’re really missing out!!! Still makes me laugh to remember.

    • Des says...

      I remember reading someone’s retelling of an embarrassing story in a bathroom stall with their daughter and it has stuck with me ever since–she was using a public bathroom with her daughter in the stall and her daughter asked her, “Mom, why do you have a beard down there?” which, of course, caused gales of laughter from the other women in the bathroom–and me too, as a reader!

    • Anna Lee says...

      years ago my daughter (3) said on the bus: Mommy, I am not a girl, I am a boy!
      me: ??? why do you think so?
      daughter: I have a penis.
      me: no, remember how daddy looks like, and you and I look different, we don´t have a penis…
      daughter: I have one. it´s tiny tiny but I found it. (looking very proud) I am a boy.
      so we had a discussion of detailed female anatomy in a public bus. at 7 in the morning. you could hear a pin dropping on that bus ride…

    • Emily says...

      Yay to all the parents not shying away from having conversations about bodies with their kids (even on public transportation!).

  94. claire says...

    It was the middle of the night and my 5 year old crept into my bed. I heard him take a breath and new a question was coming. I said, “it’s late bud, you get one question and then we’ve got to go to sleep.” He paused and said “Mama, how was the universe made?”. You got one question kid, and you picked a good one! My response? “That’s a good one for the librarian, we’ll go ask in the morning.” Aren’t these little people just amazing!?!

  95. My four year old turned to me one day and said “where did I get you?” He could not understand where I came from, and how I had been in his life since before he could remember. I obviously did my best to explain that I was around first and how I made him and gave birth to him, but I still don’t think he has totally wrapped his mind around everything.

    As for Anton’s question “Can you believe that living things MAKE living things? Like, BIRTH living things?” No. I cannot believe! I often look at my kids and marvel at that fact that these human beings just flat out did not exist before I GREW THEM IN MY BODY. It also occurred to me one day that I could have had different children. I could have married someone else, and had their babies and I would have loved them the same as the babies I have now. That really blew my mind, and made me grateful that I get to be mom to the ones I got.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i know!!!! sometimes i’m like, I MADE YOU GUYS FROM SCRATCH!!!!

    • Lily says...

      I have the same thought all the time! Sometimes I’ll be chatting with my six-year-old when suddenly it’ll hit me: “I grew you in my body. AND NOW YOU ARE TALKING TO ME.”

    • Courtney says...

      This is encouraging to hear to someone who is six months pregnant currently and feeling.so.tired.from.growing.humans.

    • patricia blaettler says...

      My girlfriend told her daughter that she and her husband loved each other so much that they made her. She was like….huh……”Who put my head on?”

  96. Nina Nattiv says...

    Last week driving home with my five year old twins:
    S: What does it feel like to be in dead?
    N: I just… I don’t know… You can’t know because then you’re in dead.
    [after a minute]
    N: I don’t know, but life is REALLY FUN

  97. Courtney says...

    What a smart, inquisitive boy Anton is!

    Completely off topic: What was the sweater de-fuzzer that Stella raved about in a post ages ago? Can’t find in a search and it’s that time of year…

    Thanks SO much.

  98. Courtenay M says...

    While walking down the canned beans aisle at the grocery store my three and a half year old asked “why are you my mother?”. Ten minutes later we pass a mom and her son who is little older and I over a snippet of their conversation as the mom explains “so you remember when I was telling about how the dad’s sperm fertilizes the mom’s the egg?”.

    Big conversations at the grocery store that day!

    • Caroline says...

      Hahahaha. Sometimes I overhear a kid say something funny at a store and start laughing. And then one of my kids screams, ‘why are you laughing? Tell me Tell me!’ And then it gets awkward.

  99. MissEm says...

    I remember being astounded when I realized I was me and that I had a beginning (and that it wasn’t that long ago). I would just lie on my back and wonder about those two things. MY 5 yo asked me a series of questions that ended in “what color is semen?” So that was fun. I panicked inside but kept my cool and after a barrage of similar questions, my 8 year old asked, “mama, how do you talk about all these things so easily?!” Phew. The goal was to make them feel like I’m totally cool about any question, but really I stayed up until 1 in the morning hoping I handled it well.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “my 8 year old asked, ‘mama, how do you talk about all these things so easily?!'” = that is the dream!!

    • Maiz says...

      Yes! Sometimes, I’m calmly answering their questions, but inside, I’m thinking, “TMI! TMI! TMI!!!!”

  100. Mirna says...

    What a wonderful idea. Love this!

  101. Kate says...

    One time I got really worried about the world ending so my dad found a book and we read about how the sun IS going to explode someday, but it won’t be for a very very long time. I also worried about college when I was in 2nd grade because I was worried I didn’t know enough to go, and how could I ever learn it all in time?? Fortunately my serial-worrying has diminished but thank goodness for my parents who talked me through them instead of dismissing them!

    • Rae says...

      Kate, I used to have the same concern about going to college beginning around age 6 — how would I know enough to be ready; how would I live without my family with me? I would comfort myself by counting the years I had between that time and college beginning.
      The night before leaving for school I was a mess with anxiety because I was out of time! (it all turned out okay. I knew plenty)

  102. CanadianJane says...

    My daughter was a similar asker-of-amazing-questions when she was that age. For xmas I got her “The Big Book of Why” and she loved it. Three years later, we still read it regularly.

  103. Kristen says...

    A friend read Michael Pollan’s book about psychedelics and was totally amused by the idea that a conversation with a 4-year-old is a lot like a conversation with someone tripping on LSD. Since then, I can’t help but think of my younger son’s questions as the musings of someone who is very, very high:

    How does a person get inside another person?
    You mean, how does a baby get inside a mom?
    No. How does an adult get inside an adult?
    An adult can’t get inside an adult.
    But what if they REALLY need to?

    • Erica says...

      Omggggg, this has me crying with laughter

  104. haha too cute. my niece once wanted to know why she wasn’t in the pictures of my sister’s wedding (her mom) and we explained she wasn’t born yet. She asked, but where was I? We tried to explain she didn’t exist yet, but she couldn’t comprehend that.

    • Dee says...

      Reminds me of when my son, at about age 4, was looking at our wedding album and asked “who babysat me when you were at your wedding?’

  105. Lacey says...

    My 3.5 year old is super fascinated by names lately:

    “Mom, what is your last name?”
    “Mom, what is your middle name?”
    “Mom, why do you have so many names?”

    My favorite interaction regarding names, from this weekend:
    Daughter: “Mom, what is the Policeman’s last name?”
    Me: “I don’t know what the policeman’s last name is, we would have to ask him.”
    Daughter: “Mom, it’s OFFICER.”

    :)

    • Morgan says...

      Yes… My son just turned 3 and is also very interested in names:
      What’s the toast’s last name?
      What’s the flag’s last name?

    • Ramona says...

      OMG, what IS with this name phase?? My 2-year-old is like a walking dictionary of people’s middle names.

  106. Kelsey says...

    Reminds me of this great episode of Everybody Loves Raymond (a truly underrated show!) in which Deborah and Ray think their daughter is asking about sex but she’s actually asking about the meaning of life.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0j4iMm4yz8I

    • b says...

      I adore that show. I was so sad when Netflix took it off streaming.

  107. Meg says...

    My almost six year old kid: “why do grown ups lie?”
    Me: “what do you mean?”
    kid: “my teacher said if you just be your true self people won’t be able to help but like you.”
    Me: “yeah? Is that a lie?”
    kid: “Well (girl we won’t name) showed me her true self and it was awful. I thought, ‘I can help it, alright.'”

    • monica says...

      That is really great!

    • Lisa says...

      This is hilarious!

    • MissEm says...

      Wise little one! My daughter came home confessing she had lied about a bunch of things so her friends would like her. We had a long talk about how, sadly, there will always be people who won’t like you, but you might as well be your real self so you can have real and honest friendships.

  108. Laura C. says...

    I’m trying to pick my favourite question among those made by Anton, and, sorry, I just can’t.
    My kids ask questions like “What if the Sun became the Moon?”, and right now they seem to be concerned about “are cartoons real? Like, do they exist in real life?”
    (edit: re reading Anton’s questions. I just can’t! He’s lovely!)

  109. ashley says...

    Sounds like it’s high time to introduce Anton to the amazingness that is Neil DeGrasse Tyson!

  110. Irene says...

    From my 5-year old: “What is God?”
    Me: “Hmmm, that’s a really good question and hard to answer.”
    5-year old: “Let’s just Google it, then.” :)

    • t says...

      We get a lot of questions about god too but I am an atheist so I just say god is whatever you believe it to be. some people think god was a person, some people think god is the beauty of nature or of love, some people think god like magic and is everywhere. Obviously none of that makes much sense to them so they always go with a god was a person. but at least i feel like i am being true to my own beliefs without trying to sway theirs.

      we also get a ton of “how is ____ made?” or “how do ________ work?” to which i almost always say “let’s ask youtube!”

  111. Hani says...

    Growing up, I was the middle child of a dozen kids, and I remember feeling intensely curious; my overwhelmed parents dismissed my incessant wondering and questions with a typical ‘you’ll understand when you’re older’.
    This post makes me think of that quote
    “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.“

    Cheers to all the parents patiently practicing taking their children seriously. It means the world! 💛💛💛

    • MissEm says...

      Oh wow! I have two and I get exhausted listening sometimes – I can’t imagine. Totally get your parents, and yet also love that quote!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i also love the idea that if the child is ready to ask the question, he or she is ready to get the answer.

      Says Sanderijn van der Doef, a psychologist, when talking about sex ed (but I think this goes for most things): “As soon as children have questions, they have the interest, and then they have the right to get a correct answer.”

  112. Meg says...

    I got in a 30 minute heated argument with my 4 year old once over who took care of her when I was a baby. (I had shown her a newborn picture of myself and it blew her mind to pieces.) She shrieked… “BUT MOM!!!!!! When you were a baby, and I was a baby, who was taking care of me??!! You couldn’t take care of me if you were a baby. Gasp! Oh no, was I all alone?” No matter how much I explained, the more upset she became. We finally settled on… Grandma. Grandma took care of all of us. And with that, the argument was over haha.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, meg, that is the sweetest <3

    • Mirna says...

      Hahaha, so sweet and funny!

  113. J S says...

    My three-year old JUST last week asked entirely out-of-the-blue, “Where were we before we were born?” My husband and I both looked at each other, and before we could answer, he asked, “Was I a seed?” Seeing the easy way out of that one, we both agreed that he was, in fact, part of a seed before he was born. Wow, such zingers!! I adore it!

  114. Stephanie says...

    Yes to the “fourth question” theory! I remember the path every question took when our oldest was around 3. He’d ask something simple and we’d answer. He’d ask a follow-up question. And another. And another. Eventually we’d run out of answers and say, “Because: science.” And it usually worked!

    Now he’s too old for such tricks. ;)

    • Heather says...

      The “fourth answers” are some of my favorites, the part where you really get down to essentials/hit the limits of your knowledge. We’ve had a lot of Q&As that ended with a semi-exasperated, “What can I say?! That’s just how chickens are!” or similar. Who knew I’d need a PhD in ornithology to be a parent?

  115. Carrie says...

    This is adorable…but also kinda freaks me out. Moms, how the heck do you respond to questions like this?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha you just do your best! :) anton seems pretty satisfied with a short, straightforward answer, nothing too scientific.

    • Juultje says...

      Honesty, really it is the answer to everything (yes, even conception)

    • another momma says...

      this morning, but 2.5 year old asked me why my name is mom… ? I just started saying stuff about the patriarchy and how they decided that ladies with kids should be called moms! My husband was rolling his eyes and goes… really!?! I finally said, “just because…”

    • Sandra says...

      I start explaining and then just keep digging myself into a deeper and deeper hole. I don’t know what it is, but in my quest to be truthful with my son I end up in inappropriate territory and usually just stop when I see my husband shaking his head.

  116. Myra says...

    Will you get a cramp if you eat and then swim? What about if you swim and then eat? What if you eat, then drink, then swim, then sleep, then jog?
    This is perfection <3

    Sooooo we have had lots of questions about god, does he exist? do you believe in him? And why saints are almost always men (from my daughter). If accupuncture hurts (after watching kung fu panda).
    What musical notes mean and how you can read them.
    Do you never get sick of reggae dad? (my 8yo to my husband). Never?, well I can maybe listen to it an for hour and a half. Then I really get sick of it.
    :)

  117. Louisa says...

    I’m dying to hear how you respond to these questions, Joanna!

  118. “Can you believe that living things MAKE living things? Like, BIRTH living things?” – I’m right there with you, Anton. Especially after having a baby in March! My mind is still blown by this and I keep looking at our son and think – we made this baby!!

    I love it when you post about things your kids ask/say! They are such sweet, intelligent, curious little beings!

    • Carrie says...

      I’ve never had a baby, but like Anton and yourself, I too am blown away by the fact that two people can create another human body and soul!!! I guess that’s why they call it the miracle of life :)

    • Charlotte K says...

      I know, what the heck is that about? I’ve been wondering since I was Anton’s age, and I’m 60 now!

    • Katie says...

      Yes! I am currently 7.5 months pregnant and it still blows my mind that I am growing a human right now.

      Lisa, congrats on your new little one!

  119. Ros says...

    Setting the scene: peaceful Saturday morning. Cup of coffee, book, couch, blanket, fireplace, spouse taking care of the baby, bliss.

    Suddenly the 4-year-old pipes up: “Mama. When are you and daddy going to die?”

    • Kate says...

      hahahahaha this is amazing

    • R says...

      Maybe I have a morbid sense of humor, but this made me giggle out loud for so long.

    • Lindsey says...

      Bahahahahhaha. Kids!

    • Nadine says...

      And that’s what the coffee is for!

  120. Jenny says...

    These are great questions! A friend recently told me something that she does with her children. If they ask questions that she isn’t sure if they’re ready for the answer (i.e. where babies come from, questions about the tooth fairy, death, etc.) then she always asks them, “What do you think?”. It helps to see the world through their eyes and gauge an age appropriate response before responding.

    • Sarah says...

      That’s clever! Thanks, Jenny.

    • Marie says...

      My daughter (5) asked me ‘the tooth fairy isn’t real, right ?’. I said ‘no, she doesn’t really exist – but it’s still fun to believe she does; her or Ratoncito Pérez, no ?’. She just smiled and kept doing what she was doing. A few days later the topic came up again, and despite the fact that I gave her my all honest answer I realized she still wasn’t sure if the tooth fairy is real or not : ). I cherish this imagination of children, how they can handle facts and stories all at once.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      the sweetest, marie. the other day, toby was talking about the tooth fairy (he 100% believes) and anton was like, “i don’t believe in the tooth fairy. even if someone tries to get me into the tooth fairy, i will not get into the tooth fairy.” haha, they’re all so sweet.