They say there are no dumb questions. They are wrong. There are, in fact, many dumb questions. I know because I ask them more often than Kim Kardashian posts a selfie. In the spirit of conscious parenting and minimizing the urge to stab myself with a Lego, I’ve composed a list of dumb questions to stop asking my kids.
1 | Are you ready to go?
Before asking this question, assess the situation. Are the child’s shoes on? Has the child gone to the bathroom? (Alternatively: Is her diaper smuggling a wrecking ball?) Is the child already holding whatever toy, doll, or tchotchke she needs to bring? If not, save your breath and some aggravation. The child is not ready to go.
2 | Can you wait a minute?
If you say this to someone who has no idea how long a minute is, prepare for the aftermath: A small voice will ask, “Has it been a minute?” approximately every 15 seconds until you lose your mind. Multiply the number of uninterrupted minutes required to complete whatever you were doing by 7,832. Plan to finish sometime next year.
Next time, try saying, “Not right now,” and then placing either the child or yourself in a locked, soundproof chamber where you or they will remain until your task is complete.
3 | Do you have to go to the bathroom?
She might be emulating Michael Jackson, the way she’s holding her crotch, but if your child is like mine, unless she’s actually on the toilet, the answer to this question is a big, fat “no.” You might think you’re being a being a responsible parent when you ask this question. In fact, you are wasting your time. Your kid will go when she’s good and ready and not a second before… hopefully.
4 | Did you poop? (Toddler exclusive!)
You saw her disappear into the other room. She smells like a dumpster. And you know that every day of a toddler’s life is sponsored by the word “no.” Asking a two-year-old whether she pooped is like asking the Bush administration if climate change is really a thing. Skip your lame attempts to get a confession, grab the child, and change the damn diaper.
5 | Aren’t you hungry?
Never in the history of man has this question inspired a child to eat the meal his loving caregiver carefully prepared (or frantically threw together). If your child had an attorney, she’d accuse you of leading the witness and request the question be overruled. Kids don’t care how you’ll feel at the crack of ridiculous o’clock tomorrow morning when they’re STARVING. For miniature, enlightened yogis (aka children), the only moment is right now. And right now, they’re not hungry.
6 | Do you want to go to the store?
Unless your child dictates your agenda (in which case, we will never be friends), this question is Russian Roulette. When you go down this road, you’re being as shortsighted as your children. Their brains are still developing. What’s your excuse? Save time and just tell your kids where they are going today. If they like the plan, consider it a bonus.
7 | Why did you push your sister?
All kids do stuff we don’t understand. They bite siblings, TP the bathroom, or wear footy pajamas in July. And we want to know why. Repeat after me: They do not know. (They get this from your partner.)
When our kids behave, we credit our stellar parenting. When they don’t, we remember children are just animals, acting on instinct. They truly have no clue why they did what they did. Also, if you would take five seconds to think, you would have the answers: 1) She took my doll. 2) For fun. 3) They’re my favorite.
8) Do know how late it is!?
If, like me, you’re asking this question of someone who uses a Tot Clock to tell time, stop asking this question. If you have the kind of child who, when told she must leave the park in five minutes, counters with “No, three minutes!” stop asking this question. You are talking to an overtired, undersized human whose life goals include becoming a ballerina or maybe an astronaut and staying up all night. Letting them know exactly how long they’ve been winning the war on fatigue will only embolden them to keep pushing through.
Life’s too short for dumb questions, so I pledge to do my best to stop asking them. I don’t know about you, but I would rather spend my precious time asking the important questions, like, “How long until bedtime,” and, “Will they expect me to pay for therapy?”