Childrearing

I Give My Kids The Love, But My Husband Has All The Answers

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I’m smart. Really, I am. I’ve earned a Master’s degree, taught writing at the university level and now, while being a full-time stay-at-home mom, I run my own business. But the man I married is smarter than me in very different ways. Jake is an actual rocket scientist who designs robots for space missions, has a PhD and reads books called Millennium: A History Of Our Last Thousand Years. For pleasure. But he’s also one of the goofiest guys I know. We’ve been together for almost 16 years, and our differences have always brought us together. I like to know how people think; he loves to learn how things are made. These opposite interests have always kept us attracted to and intrigued by one another.

But it wasn’t until recently that it dawned on me how much more my husband knows about things that our inquisitive and intuitive four-year-old son has questions about. And, boy, are those questions never-ending. I used to be able to answer most of them:

“Why can’t I wear a toque when it’s 100 degrees out?” Because you’ll melt.

“Why can’t I wear my pants backwards to school?” Because then you can’t take them off to pee.

“Mommy, why don’t you stand up when you pee?” Biology.

But, lately, his questions and their subjects have become infinitely more complex. And I now find myself stumped. Yes, stumped – by a four-year-old.

What is the moon, exactly, he’ll ask me. Um, I know it’s not a star and it’s not a reflection of the sun. But only my husband can articulate to our boy that it’s actually a natural satellite that orbits the Earth. Why do his guppies eat food from the top of the tank? Well, wasn’t I surprised to find out that guppies are top feeders and not bottom feeders like other fish!

Whenever my son asks me these questions, I wish I’d spent more time listening in school than staring at Jason King. It’s not that I don’t like learning new things. I actually love to learn. But even though I know most of the basics of science and technology, ever since I graduated from university, I’ve taken great pleasure in learning whatever the hell I want to and not what I’m supposed to. Isn’t that one of the great things about being an adult?

But my son’s knowledge is beginning to surpass mine, and the only thing I can think to say when he asks me these questions is, “Let’s ask your dad.”

I have no sense of direction, either, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. North and south escapes me, and I never really cared before. If I get lost, I figure I can always turn around. But now that my children and I are often alone in the car, it is a tad embarrassing. The other day I needed to take my son for a very early doctor’s appointment and, of course, I got lost. I ended up having to drive quite far from our destination to get back to it, while sweat began to drip down my face. I pretended to be calm, but my son saw right through it. “Are we lost again, Mommy? Should we call Daddy?”

I’m certainly not a moronic mom. I have talents and skills that many people do not have. I may not know what is really under the hood of the car, and I might not do the voices in my son’s books as well as Jake can, but I am a supreme multi-tasker. I can cook dinner, pay bills and play Handy Manny all at the same time. I know what to say when my son’s feelings are hurt, and I have tons of creative games that he loves playing with me. And if Jake isn’t around at the time these questions are raised, I am thankful for my computer and high-speed Internet. Thanks to my years of teaching, I know the best answer to a question you don’t know is honesty and a backup plan. Saying “I don’t know” is the truth, and then there’s the promise to look up the answer and get back to the query in question.

Still, Wikipedia doesn’t have a patch on Jake. He seriously knows everything about, well, things. He can confidently tell our son what a light bulb is made of, he knows the names and purpose of every vehicle ever made and can actually describe each and every dinosaur, from the velociraptor to the Tyrannosaurus Rex. But though I might not know what a Phillips Head is or remember where hot dogs come from, I can play a mean game of tag and water fights. I can kiss a boo-boo better than anyone, and can make up stories in which our son always has the starring role. Only I know how to scratch his back the way he likes and snuggle him in the mornings, and only I love him like a mom can.

This is what parenting should be: the best of two people who come together to raise children. And this is why I never want to imagine life without Jake. He is the logic to my emotions, the soothing balm for my worry, and he always trusts my instincts when it comes to everyone, not just our kids. The very best part of parenting with Jake? I learn something new every single day about things I would never have known I wanted to learn.

I know people. Jake knows things. Together, we know almost everything. Until the day, of course, when our kids ask us a question neither of us can answer. But then we’ll just ask our own parents for the perfect answer.

(Photo: Jupiterimages)