Monday, November 28, 2011

437 Questions a Day

I read somewhere recently that an average four-year-old child asks 437 questions a day.  That statistic in itself does not surprise me--after all, Sooby is four, and I frequently find myself on the answering end of what seems like an endless barrage of questions.  But what I did not realize until just a few days ago is that all 437 questions can occur during a seemingly innocent bedtime reading of Clement C. Moore's "The Night Before Christmas."  Here are some highlights.

Googie:  Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Sooby:  What were they stirring?  Why didn't the mouse get to stir?
Googie:  They weren't stirring anything in a bowl.  Here, stirring means "moving around."
Sooby:  Why weren't they moving?  Were they playing freeze tag?
Googie:  It just means everybody was asleep.  Let's turn the page.

Googie:  While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
Sooby:  Did the kids wake up when the sugar plums danced?  Did they tap dance?  Did it hurt their heads?  Does a sugar plum have legs?
Googie:  It just means the kids were dreaming something good.  There wasn't any actual dancing.  We call this personification.
Sooby:  What?
Googie:  Never mind.  Let's go on.

Googie:  Away to the window I flew like a flash/Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
Sooby:  Did the daddy have wings? 
Googie:  No, he didn't really fly.  He just got up and went to the window in a very big hurry.
Sooby:  Did he get in trouble for tearing the shutters?  Was that lady with a handkerchief on her head mad? 
Googie:  No.  Luckily, she didn't wake up.
Sooby:  Did the daddy THROW UP?  What color was the sash?
Googie:  On we go.

Googie:  . . . a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
Sooby:  What does miniature mean?
Googie:  Very small.
Sooby:  Why is the sleigh small?  Why are the reindeer tiny?  Why doesn't Santa have big reindeer?  How can little reindeer pull a big fat man?  [She looks at the picture]  Where is Rudolph?
Googie:  [Sighing and crossing her eyes] He comes into the story later.

Googie:  The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth . . . .
Sooby:  Why is Santa SMOKING?  Doesn't he know that is bad for you?  Will it make him sick?  Is he going to smoke in OUR house?
Googie:  I don't think he smokes anymore.  This story about Santa was written a long time ago.  Come on, we're almost to the end.

Googie:  . . . and a round little belly/That shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
Sooby:  What is Santa laughing at?
Googie:  It doesn't say.  I guess people that are jolly just laugh a lot.
Sooby:  Why is the jelly in a bowl instead of a jar?
Googie:  Well, jelly couldn't wiggle if it was in a jar.  This is a simile.  Don't ask--never mind.

Googie:  And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
Sooby:  How can Santa go UP the chimney?
Googie:  Very.  Carefully. 

Googie:  . . . and to all a good night.  This means it's time to say good night to you too, Miss Sooby.
Sooby:  [Question 436] Can I ask just one more question?
Googie:  What?
Sooby:  [Question 437] Can we read it again?
Googie:  Not now.  It's time for me to settle down for one of those long winter's naps.  Maybe tomorrow.

Tomorrow.  A new day. A new chance to read with Sooby.  A new set of questions. 



  1. What a great story! Made me think back to all the questions Amara used to ask when she was 4. Now that she is 7 1/2 she knows all the answers to all of the questions!

  2. Hilarious! My littlest granddaughter, who is 7, now points out all the figurative language to me. But she still asks other questions.

  3. Ok! Laughing so hard I'm crying!!! That is too funny and now I know why I am so tired at the end of the day....all those questions! Fabulously told story as usual, thanks for linking with me!

  4. OMGoodness this is SO cute and funny! Now that my grandsons are four, I am gettings lots of "why?...but WHYYYY?" after pretty much everything I tell them. I have resorted to just mumbling "I don't know, sweetie." Then I feel guilty because I'm a grandma and I am SUPPOSED to either know or at least try to explain everything!
    I loved reading your post from the perspective of a child. They just KNOW jelly doesn't belong in a bowl, and if everybody is getting a chance to stir, then that mouse better have a chance, too. It's only fair!

  5. I used to have many of the same questions about Clement C. Moore's classic Christmas poem. I've always loved it. But when I was little I thought a sash was the tie on the back of a little girl's dress. This brought back many memories and made me laugh.

    I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love.

  6. I loved this the first time I read it and it is still wonderful. Just this week they were discussing on the news how certain parts have now been edited out of the story by the author -- including Santa's pipe. Somehow I just don't like that -- and I don't smoke! But Santa has a pipe!