Many adults are put off when youngsters pose scientific questions. Children ask why the sun is yellow, or what a dream is, or how deep you can dig a hole, or when is the world’s birthday, or why we have toes. Too many teachers and parents answer with irritation or ridicule, or quickly move on to something else. Why adults should pretend to omniscience before a five-year-old, I can’t for the life of me understand. What’s wrong with admitting that you don’t know? Children soon recognize that somehow this kind of question annoys many adults. A few more experiences like this, and another child has been lost to science. There are many better responses. If we have an idea of the answer, we could try to explain. If we don’t, we could go to the encyclopedia or the library. Or we might say to the child: “I don’t know the answer. Maybe no one knows. Maybe when you grow up, you’ll be the first to find out.
These fancies had some sentimental charm,
But love without direction is a cheap blanket
And even if it did no one any harm,
No one is warm.
Thomas McGrath, “Such Simple Love” from The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems, published by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press. Copyright © 1972 by Thomas McGrath.
‘If the girl had been worth having she’d have waited for you?’ No, sir, the girl really worth having won’t wait for anybody.