Parent Pop Quiz: How To Survive Kiddie Quizzers

Some days I feel like my kids talk only in questions. It’s as if they’ve turned parenthood into one long high school English exam that I’m almost certain to fail. Of course I can answer the easy ones like “What day is it?” and “When do Pitchers and Catchers report to camp?” I can even handle a couple of toughies, like “Where do babies come from?” (The correct answer is: Fake a heart attack). But what I am never prepared for and eats me alive—and probably eats most other parents alive too—are the daily Kiddie Quizzers that my daughters throw my way.

A Kiddie Quizzer is when one or more of your kids approaches you somewhere where you are trapped, like in your car or when you are secretly reading your wife’s Entertainment Weekly in the bathroom, and starts asking questions at a rapid pace. The questions can last anywhere from 5 minutes to the length of an entire car ride to your in-laws’ house. These questions can be about anything and can be completely unrelated. There are no right or wrong answers; there are only answers that lead to more questions. For example:

Daughter: Are we going anywhere today?
Me: No.
Daughter: Why not?
Me: We need to clean the house.
Daughter: Why do we clean the house?
Me: Because it gets dirty. Can you give me a minute? I’m using the bathroom.
Daughter: Why does it get dirty?
Me: I don’t know. Your mom says it gets dirty and we need to clean it, so we do.
Daughter: Why does mom say that?
Me: Good question.
Daughter: Why is that a good question?
And so on.

As you can see, no matter how you answer, your child will counter with another question. This can be maddening, particularly on the drive home from work when you are already trying to pull off the Commuter-Multitasking Trifecta: Pay attention to the road, control the temperature of the car so everyone is “comfortable” and calculate the mathematical scenarios of yardage plus TDs that will lead your fantasy football team to victory. There just isn’t room for you to focus on a fourth thing. If there were, it wouldn’t be called the Commuter-Multitasking Trifecta. It’d be called the Commuter-Multitasking Trifecta Plus Another Thing.

I’ve tried many methods to defuse these Kiddie Quizzers, but none of them work. I attempt to ignore the question, but that only leads to my daughter repeating the question over and over again.

Daughter: Can I have a pony?
Me: (silence)
Daughter: Can I have a pony?
Me: (silence)
Daughter: Can I have a pony?
Daughter: Can I have a pony?
Daughter: Can I have a pony? (And put this on repeat until you answer her!)

I’ve also tried to respond to her question with my own question, but that doesn’t work either:

Daughter: Can I have a pony?
Me: Do you deserve a pony?
Daughter: Yes. Does that mean I can have a pony?
Me: Where do you think I can get a pony?
Daughter: At the pony store. Does that mean I can have a pony?

I asked other parents how they deal with Kiddie Quizzers and their answers ranged from “I hide in the closet” to “I send them to grandma’s.” But even those tactics have major flaws (closets often smell like feet and grandma’s house often smells like old-people feet).

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that through all the madness it’s hard for me to get too upset. Kids are just curious by nature. Hell, I’m curious by nature, just ask my wife. I’m sure she’d point out that 90% of our conversations go something like this:

Me: Can we be romantic tonight?
Wife: No.
Me: Why not?
Wife: You smell like Nacho Cheese Doritos.
Me: Don’t you like Nacho Cheese Doritos?
Wife: Yes, with sandwiches.
Me: Can we be romantic if I make you a sandwich?
Wife: No.
Me: Why Not?
Wife: Because I’m not hungry … and you still smell like Nacho Cheese Doritos.
Me: Would you prefer Cool Ranch?
And so on.

So when you are faced with the onslaught of a Kiddie Quizzer, know that it’s not the end of the world. It’s also probably, in part, your fault for being so darn knowledgeable about everything (as all Dads are). Your goal here is survival, and the only way I’ve learned to survive Kiddie Quizzers is to just keep answering them (no matter how crazy they make you) and pray that, eventually, through your thoughtful answers and brilliant retorts, you’ll bore your kid to sleep.

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