I have never been very good at tolerating stupid questions.
Which sometimes makes it hard to parent a toddler.
PH loves the toddler years. He hated the baby stage, but he loves answering the kind of aggravating questions demanded by our child every minute of every day.
I am not so patient.
My struggle with stupid questions began in childhood.
For several years my only friend was a girl who was funny, generally kind, and shared my love of animals and imaginary play. Unfortunately for her, and me, she wasn’t very scholastic, and tended to ask what I considered to be really stupid questions.
And I didn’t handle it well.
I don’t know why stupidity sets my temper off so much, but I could never just handle stupid questions calmly.
When my friend, who was 12 at the time, asked me what “unpredictable” meant, or asked me what two times eleven was, I couldn’t just calmly define “unpredictable” or say “22” like a normal friend might.
I felt compelled to make her THINK.
“It’s the opposite of predictable. Do you know what predictable means? HOW CAN YOU BE IN GRADE SIX AND NOT KNOW WHAT PREDICTABLE MEANS?”
“How can you not know what two times eleven is? The eleven times table is easy! What’s two times one? OKAY NOW DO THAT TWICE.”
To her credit, she handled my flares of temper quite calmly.
But I knew that my meanness got to her, and if she hasn’t been in direct contact with me since we were 14, even turning down an invitation to my wedding, it’s my own fault.
I knew I had a problem, and I really did work on it.
One year I made my New Year’s Resolution “Be nicer to Lucy” and I hung it on my door so I could see it every time I went into my bedroom.
I learned to swallow a lot of mean thoughts and give more basic answers to questions that seemed painfully stupid to me. And when I couldn’t do that, I at least managed to be kinder in my explanations.
But I didn’t perfect it.
All through junior high and high school I struggled with responding to questions that I perceived as stupid without biting people’s heads off. I found that quantity mattered. One stupid question I could handle. Maybe even two, or three. But if I heard too many in a day I’d start to snap.
But every year of my life, I have gotten better at keeping my temper when people ask me stupid questions, or don’t seem to understand basic things.
For a while I even believed that I had completely overcome this problem.
If anything, I am frequently praised for my patience with difficult clients, and my ability to explain things clearly to people.
…Then I became mother to a toddler.