I didn't think the Starbright, Meditations for Children book Elvira brought us today would cause quite so much difficult conversation with my 4 year old. When I pictured parenting a preschooler I expected to have to field questions about things like why the sky is blue (It's got something to do with, ah, reflection or refraction - lets look it up!) and where babies come from (they come from a mummies tummy! - How do they get in there? - Ah, well, ah, when a mummy and a daddy love each other very much and want to make a baby they, ah, well you've seen little plants grow from seeds? Well babies kind of grow from special seeds. Kind of) but Asher still surprises me. Not just difficult but doable questions like 'What is shift work' 'What is the government' and yesterday, driving through the rural fringes of Sydney, 'Is that a Tapir?' (it was a remarkably tapir shaped cow, for any punters out there who might be wondering) but tonight I needed to try and explain magic, guardian angels and what his imagination is!
I always try to answer Asher's questions simply and honestly, with appropriate depth and detail (I find the key is to answer the question he's really asking, without getting into details unless he asks further) because I feel that is the respectful way to address the genuine questions of a smart kid. And it appears that it's not just his parents and immediate family who think he's a bright kid. We spend a lot of time with some pretty exceptional preschoolers, so Asher seems bright and inquiring but relatively normal for his age but Asher's childcare teacher has noticed his facility with language and his literacy and numeracy skills and has suggested we get him assessed. We are somewhat ambivalent about this and cagey about having a preschooler labelled as 'gifted and talented' (or whatever) but it seems the benefits might outweigh our niggling reservations - we aren't overly happy with how things are at childcare and feel this might be the key to changing things for the better. We are going to ask what they are planning to do with the information with respect to looking after his 'special needs' with the follow-up question being why they aren't currently providing him with a more thought-out program.
So for now, send us sympathy. We need to try to answer all this smart little kid's difficult questions and give him with enough food for thought without overwhelming him. We want to provide for his thirst for knowledge without burying him under our expectations. Really, in the end, we just want the kid to be happy.