Stupid Questions

There is a certain sick, sadistic pleasure in being a parent of grown children and watching and listening to parents of young children. If you’re in that stage of life with me, you know exactly what I mean.

Lately, I have had a few perverse chuckles about the questions, no really, the stupid questions parents ask their offspring. (And, yes, I know that “stupid” is right up there with four letter words. I’ve been at our church’s elementary camp this week and have had to watch my tongue 24/7, but you are grownups, so lay off!)

Back to what I was saying…I recognize all of the questions – except one which is just a sign of the times – more on that later. Five of the questions stand out particularly. I will save the best/worst one for last.

5 Stupid Questions Parents Ask

1. Is that a wise choice?

This is the one that I have to say never escaped my lips when my kids were little. It wasn’t in fashion back then.

First of all, is it a rhetorical question or not? Surely, the only answer is “No, mama, darling, of course it’s not.”

The second problem I have with this question is that moms and dads are asking it of their preschoolers. Did somebody forget to teach this generation that preschoolers are rotten at abstract thinking and have very little conception of (or concern for) cause and effect? This question might work with 5th and 6th graders, but even then I have doubts that you will get an intelligent answer.

Why ask? Why not just tell your child what you expect them to do?

2. Are you ready for bed?

This one just makes me laugh, and, yes, I was silly enough to ask my kids if they were ready for bed. No kid is going to admit being ready for bed…ever! They’re not ready for bed unless they fell asleep in the car and are still unconscious when you get them in the house.

Don’t waste your breath – just tell ’em it’s time to go to bed and deal with the aftermath.

3. When are you going to learn?

We’re now moving into the really absurd questions (if you couldn’t tell.) Can I let you in on a secret I learned from my own parenting years? Your child does not know when he is going to learn…and while you were ranting, he saw a hot-air balloon sail by and he doesn’t even remember what it is that you so desperately want him to learn.

This question is just another waste of your breath.

4. How many times have I told you?

You can tell how close we are getting to the stupidest question parents ask because this one is pretty bad. I don’t know any kid who keeps a pocket notebook and pencil stub in his back pocket ready to check off how many times Mom told him to brush his teeth after¬†dinner. Can you imagine? His backpack, his desk drawer, his dresser, and his closet would be full of little notebooks filled with checkmarks.

The point is he doesn’t have a clue how many times you have told him. Your estimate of a million is probably right. Let’s go with it.

And then you won’t have to¬†waste your breath with this one either.

5. Why did you do that?

I’ve got a question for you – why do we say, “Why did you do that?” Nobody knows the answer to this question, unless you’re going to get theological and say, “Original sin.” Come to think of it, maybe I’ll teach my grandchildren to lisp, “Original sin, mommy/daddy,” when that particularly stupid question comes out of the mouth of their parental units.

Now, don’t get in a huff – I’ve let the “why did you do that” question fly plenty of times myself and I still don’t know why I wasted my breath on it. That doesn’t stop me from getting a sneaky little giggle out of it when I see you doing it.

So, do I expect that subjecting you to ridicule about these five stupid questions parents ask will make you stop asking them? Not really. They seem to be wired into the parenting DNA.

But, maybe the next time you ask one of these stupid questions, you’ll look around to see if I’m listening and then you’ll have a little chuckle about it yourself. After all, parenting is serious stuff and requires a little levity from time to time, right?