Somewhere in the recesses of my brain I recall the phrase “incessant questioning” used to describe the time of childhood in which children ask question after question after question. When I first heard the phrase, I thought it sounded like the child became irritating in their questions. They just kept asking until the adult became exasperated and gave up.
I began to better understand the depth of this “incessant questioning” as my own children grew and developed. And yes, it became exasperating at times. But I began to realize, and I continue to realize increasingly more as I interact with children, that they’re “incessant questioning” is a gift. It enables them to learn and grow. But it’s also a gift they offer to the one from whom they ask questions. Every time my child or another child asks me a question, they offer me a gift. If they ask you a question, they offer you a gift, a beautiful gift. The gift of trust, love, and insight.
A child’s question is a gift of trust. Children only ask questions of those they trust. They ask questions of the person they believe will take the time to listen to the question and respond with thought and meaning, who will take them and their curiosity serious. They ask questions of the ones they trust will invest in their growing curiosity and knowledge.
In addition, a child’s question is a gift of love. Children only ask questions of those they love and feel safe around. Who wants to approach a stranger or a scary person to ask them a question? Children ask questions of those they know value them and consider them important, people who share a love with them.
Finally, a child’s question is a gift of themselves. In asking us questions, children open themselves up to us. They take a step of vulnerability to reveal their point of growth, the limit of their knowledge. They allow themselves to “not know” something in our presence and open themselves to learn from us. They allow us to witness how they think, what they find curious, and what mental gymnastics are hidden inside their little heads, hidden to everyone but those people to whom they choose to reveal them in the form of a question.
The “incessant questioning” of a child is so much more than constant questioning. It’s a wonderful gift of trust, love, and insight. Best of all, this gift never changes. When our teen asks us a question, it’s a wonderful gift of trust, love, and insight. When our young adult children ask us a question, it’s a wonderful gift of trust, love, and insight. Unwrap it joyfully, carefully, with deep respect for the precious gift they offer.