It’s Not All Mary Poppins

There’s no such thing as a Stupid Question

I am peeling carrots.
“What are those, Mary?”

I was a teacher, once. In many ways, I still am. As a teacher, I firmly believe the concept behind the adage, “There are no stupid questions.”

I am peeling carrots.
“You peelin’ dose carrots, Mary?”
(Same kid, who didn’t get an answer to first question.)

It is important that we not be ashamed to reveal what we don’t know. Otherwise, we handicap our ability to learn.

I am carrying snack to the table.
“Is that our snack?”
“We going to eat that?”

And, so handicapped, we continue in the ignorance that shames us.

I am putting on my shoes, the shoes I wear every day.
“Are those your shoes?”

It’s a vicious circle. Self-consciousness => unwillingness to ask questions => no answers=> continued ignorance.

Emma walks in through the door.
“Is that Emma?”
“Did Emma come home now?”

Ask that question, and learn. Swallow that question, and continue in ignorance.

I lay a child on the floor and start on the diaper.
“Is that my diaper?”
“You takin’ my diaper off?”
“I gettin’ a clean bum?”

It is important to free yourself of the handicap of self-consciousness.

A child falls and commences to wail.
“Did she fall down?”
(The child had witnessed the fall.)
“Is she crying?”
“Is you kissin’ her bo-bo?”

Blurt out that question! Plunge into the adventure that is learning!

Timmy is getting his shoes on.
“Are those are Timmy’s socks?”

But you know … accepting all the above as I sincerely do …

“Is your name Mary?”

There are such things as stupid questions.

October 5, 2007 - Posted by | random and odd, the things they say!


  1. I LOVE you.

    My standard response to inane tangents when I taught 5th grade was “yes. And my cat’s name is Mittens” and then back to the lesson.

    Comment by Kimberly | October 5, 2007 | Reply

  2. Yeah, I don’t even consider those things questions, really, more like play-by-play commentary to hear their own voice, get attention, and feel secure in how much they know.

    Comment by kittenpie | October 5, 2007 | Reply

  3. Did you writed a blog post? Is this rectangle a comment box? Is that curvey thing at the end of my sentence a question mark?

    And why do you get so many headaches?

    Comment by Stephen | October 5, 2007 | Reply

  4. HAHAHAHAHA…loved the post, and Stephen’s comment nearly got me spewing lunch on my laptop.

    Then again, that’s probably because my 3yo has been on the “asking obvious questions” phase for a couple months now. It’s getting really old.

    Comment by Allison | October 5, 2007 | Reply

  5. I know! Its like they want to reafirm everything, everyday! At least they are not dumplings age who likes to start a conversation just so he can take the opposite opinion and practise his ‘debating skills’…

    Comment by jenny uk | October 5, 2007 | Reply

  6. Thank you for a laugh to end my week and start the weekend!

    At this age, it’s still funny. But when they get older, re-affirming someone’s powers of observation DOES start to feel like answering stupid questions…

    Comment by Florinda | October 5, 2007 | Reply

  7. hehe fun post and excellent look into life with toddlers!

    Comment by Carissa | October 5, 2007 | Reply

  8. I try to answer all the Boy’s questions, but some of them are inane. And when he asks the same question 10 times in a row, I start asking him silly questions back – just so I don’t have to answer it AGAIN.

    Comment by nomotherearth | October 5, 2007 | Reply

  9. I didn’t think there was such a thing as a stupid question either.. that was until my toddler started to talk… I tried to explain this to my mother (who is a teacher) and she argued with me for a very long time.. that was until Brighten spent the whole day with her 🙂

    Comment by Tiffany | October 6, 2007 | Reply

  10. Hi MP–well, there are such things as stupid questions and sometimes we all ask them because we’re not being attentive. But, I think little ones ask many questions, even those that appear stupid because they’re learning the skill of asking questions in different contexts which takes quite a while to develop.

    Thank you for this wonderful post!

    Comment by The New Parent | October 6, 2007 | Reply

  11. I tend to respond to such questions by turning it back to the child. For example, he asks “are those your shoes?” I say “Are these my shoes, Ben?” Because he knows they are my shoes… Either that or I try to preempt (is that the way you spell that?) the questions by just narrating everything I’m/we’re doing, “Now I’m cutting up the carrots for snack, then we’re going to eat the carrots, mmm- carrots are yummy!”
    I like to explain to kids I take care of that a question is something you don’t already know the answer to, otherwise it’s just a comment. (Not that 5 year olds really get this, and question time usually includes a lot of comments, but I’m trying to teach them!)

    Comment by Julia | October 7, 2007 | Reply

  12. Sis has taken to asking these questions. Now I deliberately give her wrong answers and she corrects me. That’s when I ask her why she asked me a questions she already knew the answer to.

    She’s starting to ask fewer of those “questions.”

    Comment by MiM | October 7, 2007 | Reply

  13. It’s important to know when to laugh at/with our kids. I think New Parent there doesn’t quite understand that you’re not stupid, you were just laughing…

    Comment by Lucie | October 7, 2007 | Reply

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