Questions

‘Daddy… daddy… DADDY.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter, why are you shouting at me?’
‘Cos you were ignoring me, Mummy never ignores me.’
‘I was busy doing something so I didn’t hear you.’
‘Mummy always hears me, even when she is doing two things at the same time.’
‘OK, Miss Andry, that’s enough of your aggressive feminism, eight is too young for that.  How can I help you?’
‘Is it true what my best friend Fiona says?’
‘What does Fiona say?’
‘She says that her daddy says he knows everything. Do you know everything?’
‘I know as much of everything as Fiona’s daddy, in fact more because he’s a muppet.’
‘What’s a muppet?’
‘Never mind, Gorgeous Daughter, what were you going to ask me?’
‘Why is snow white?’
‘Well I guess it is because she is tired from looking after seven dwarves.’
‘No silly, I mean why is snow white when rain isn’t?’
‘Oh, that’s an easy question. The fairies paint each snow flake white on its way down from the sky.’
‘Where do they get the paint from?’
‘Same as we do, from B & Q of course.’
‘I’ve never seen any fairies when we’ve been shopping for paint.’
‘That is because B & Q only run their fairy price promise on Thursday mornings and we usually go on Friday evening or Saturday morning.’
‘Oh, OK.’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘If each snow flake is painted white by the fairies, why isn’t there a lot of white paint left on the garden when the snow melts?’
‘That’s a very good question.’
‘When you say that it usually means you don’t know the answer.’
‘Of course I know the answer, I told you; your daddy knows everything.’
‘So what’s the answer then?’
‘Well, err, it’s…/
‘You don’t know do you. Wait ‘till I tell Fiona. She’ll tell her muppet daddy.’
‘Of course I know the answer, I was just teasing you. Don’t tell Fiona that I called her daddy a muppet will you?’’
‘OK. Well, what is it then?’
‘If you stop stamping your feet, I’ll tell you. The white paint dissolves into the earth so you don’t see it.’
‘What does dissolve mean?’
‘When you have a cup of tea, you put a spoonful of sugar in it don’t you?’
‘Yes, so?’
‘The sugar is white, just like snow flakes but when you have finished drinking your tea, you don’t see the sugar at the bottom of the cup do you? It is just the same with the white paint.’
‘Oh. OK’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘Where does the sun go when it gets dark at night?’
‘It goes behind the earth so we can’t see it.’
‘OK, when you put me to bed at night, you or Mummy read me a story.’
‘Yes…’
‘Then when you have finished the story, you turn the light out.’
‘Yes…’
‘If the sun goes behind the earth at night, where does the light from my bedside light go?’
‘It goes back along the wire to the plug in the wall socket and then back along the wires in the wall.’
‘So it’s in the wires all night waiting to come out?’
‘Yes and if you turn your light on at night, the light comes back down the wires and the light comes on.’
‘If I turn the switch off at the wall socket, the light goes off’
‘Err, Yes.’
‘If I turn the switch off at the wall socket, unplug the light and then switch the wall socket switch on again, will light come out of the socket and make a puddle of light on the floor?’
‘Have you tried it?’
‘No, I don’t want to make a mess on the floor.’
‘That’s right, please don’t try it, we don’t want to have to clean up a big light puddle do we?’
‘No, I suppose not.’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘Does the sun really go behind the earth at night?’
‘Well, it looks like it but it is really the earth turning once a day that makes it look like that.’
‘So the earth is spinning?’
‘Yes.’
‘But when you take me down to the swings in the park, you tell me to hold on tight when I have a go on the roundabout as otherwise I would fall off. Why don’t I fall off the earth if it is spinning like a roundabout?’
‘Because the earth is a lot bigger than the roundabout, it has what is called gravity which pulls you on to the earth. So when you jump in the air, you soon come down to stand on the earth again.’
‘But if I look under my shoes, there is no string to pull me down with.’
‘That’s because gravity is a force which no one can see. It is like invisible string.’
‘Oh, OK.’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘When I look in the mirror in my bedroom, I see me, but if I scratch my left elbow with my right hand it looks in the mirror as if I am scratching my right elbow with my left hand.’
‘That is because you don’t really see yourself, you only see what the mirror thinks you look like. It sees you the other way round and so it presents you with a picture of that.’
‘Oh, right, I see. It reverses me left to right?’
‘That’s right.’
‘Well then, why doesn’t it reverse me top to bottom as well. I look in the mirror and I see myself the right way up, why?’
‘How would you like to stand on your head all day? You tell me that you feel dizzy just doing handstands in the school playground. Do you think the mirror would be cruel enough to keep you upside down all day?’
‘If you peeped in my bedroom when I was at school, do you think you would still see me in the mirror?’
‘I don’t know. I haven’t tried. Have you?’
‘Yes, and I am always in the mirror when I look.’
‘Well, there you are then, you have just answered your own question.’
‘Oh, OK.’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘When we go out on Dartmoor in the winter, we take a hot drink of coffee with us. This stays hot in the thermos so that we can have a hot drink when we stop to eat our sandwiches.’
‘Err, yes, so…’
‘Well, when we go for a walk in the summer, we take some squash with us and we put it in the same thermos to keep it cold.’
‘Well, yes…’
‘How does the thermos know whether to keep the drink hot or cold?’
‘Our old thermos was a special one that had a hidden switch. You won’t have seen it because I always set it to “hot” or “cold” depending on the time of year, while you were getting ready.
‘Can you show me, I would like to see that switch.’
‘No, we have now got a new one with new technology that switches over automatically. It senses whether you put a hot or a cold drink in it.
‘Oh, OK.’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘When you work at home, as you call it, you use your computer and write a lot on it.
‘Yes, and…’
‘So you will have put a lot of letters from the keyboard in to the computer by the end of the day.’
‘Yes, your Daddy works very hard.’
‘And drinks a lot of tea.’
‘Well OK, but what’s your question?’
‘If your computer has all those letters in it that you put in during the day, does it get heavier in the afternoon?’
‘Well, I know my eyes do, but yes, if I don’t empty out my computer at the end of each day, it gets a lot heavier. It is like the hole puncher, you have to empty out all those little circles of paper otherwise it gets jammed up.’
‘But I often empty those out for you, can I empty your computer next time you work at home?’
‘We don’t want to get those letters all over the floor do we?’
‘No, but I will be very careful, if you show me what to do.’
‘Err, we’ll see.’
‘Oh, OK’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘When I play out in the garden in the summer or we have a day out at the beach and the sun is shining, you or Mummy always put lots of sun cream on me. You say this is to stop me getting sunburn.’
‘Yes and…’
‘When the sun goes in because there are lots of clouds in the sky, what happens to the sunshine that would have burnt my skin if you had not put sun cream on me?’
‘Well – ‘
-‘What I mean is, the sun must go somewhere so do the tops of the clouds get sunburnt?’
‘They certainly would do if someone didn’t spread sun cream on them.’
‘Oh. Well who spreads the sun cream on them?
‘The fairies of course.’
‘Oh. Is that the same fairies that paint the snowflakes white?’
‘No, no. They are much too busy, these are special cloud fairies. They only put sun cream on clouds.’
‘Where do these fairies get the sun cream from? It can’t be B & Q as they don’t have it.’
‘They get the cream from Boots.’
‘Not Superdrug?’
‘No, it is always Boots.’
‘Why don’t I see these fairies spreading cream on the clouds?’
‘Because they have to work on top of the clouds and you are usually under them. The only time you would see them is if you look out the window of the aeroplane when we go to Tenerife on holiday.’
‘Oh, OK. I’ll have a good look for them next summer when we go on holiday.’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘Why do I have two eyes, two ears, two hands but only one nose and tongue?’
‘You have five senses, sight, hearing, taste, smell and feeling. You have two of each sensor, such as eyes, ears and fingers so that you know where things are and where they are coming from. For example, you have two eyes so that when you see a bird, you can tell how far away it is because your brain works out the angle your eyes move inwards to see it look the same to both of them. It is called stereoscopic vision.
It is the same with sounds, because you have two ears, on each side of your head, you can tell where a sound is coming from, your brain works out the difference in time between the sound arriving at your two ears.
‘But I only have one tongue.’
‘That is because you don’t need to taste at a distance, you only taste food that is in your mouth.’
‘Oh, OK. But what about my nose, why do I only have one?’
‘That’s because you would look silly with two noses on your face, wouldn’t you?’
‘Oh, OK, I suppose so.’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘Do you remember the other day when you explained homeopatholeology to me?’
‘Well, err, yes, but it is called homeopathy.’
‘Oh, OK. But you said that the more the medicine was watered down, the stronger it was and the better it worked?’
‘Well yes, that is the theory, but you also have to shake it each time you water it down. This is called percussing and it leaves the imprint of the active ingredient on the water.’
‘Oh, OK, so is that the origin of James Bond?’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Well, he likes his drinks shaken not stirred.’
‘I suppose it could be but the main reason is that if the landlord of a pub waters down the beer, his customers get drunker more quickly, from less beer so the publican saves a lot of money. When you first go in a pub it is always best to ask if it is a homeopathic pub.’
‘Oh, OK.’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘If I have too many toys and my bedroom is untidy, I have problems and cannot find things so Mummy makes me tidy my room and give some of my old toys away so that I have more room.’
‘Err, yes, so…?’
‘When Nanny died from cancer last year you told me the reason was that a part of Nanny started growing and wouldn’t stop, so she died.’
‘Yes, that’s right, but…’
‘If I get a cardboard box and fill it with newspaper until it is full and then I try to put more in it, it won’t go and overflows.’
‘Yes, that’s true but…’
‘Then why does everyone think growth is a good thing for the Country and politicians go on and on about it? It seems silly to me to try and make more and more when the Country doesn’t get any bigger, it stays the same size, just like my cardboard box – and my bedroom.’
‘If we keep on growing, won’t it eventually kill the Country just like Nanny?’
‘Yes, probably but we don’t seem to have any other way of doing it.’
‘Why don’t all these clever economists find a way of us not growing but just keep the Country’s output the same and make everyone happy?
‘I really don’t know the answer to that. Why don’t you become an economist when you grow up and then you can sort out the problem.’
‘Oh, OK, I think I will.’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘My friend, Fiona, is a Catholic.’
‘Yeees…’
‘My other friend, Ashraf, is a Muslim.’
‘Yeees…’
‘They are both quite religious but they believe different things. Fiona says that her God only wants her to cover her hair when she goes to church but Ashraf says her God wants her to cover her hair all the time. Fiona’s God lets her eat all types of meat but Ashraf says her God says that you mustn’t eat pork.’
‘Yees…’
‘I thought there was only one God but there must be a Catholic God and a Muslim God and they both think different things, but each one tells Fiona and Ashraf that he is the one and only true God. What do you think?’
‘I don’t know, it is too difficult for me, there are many different religions around the world and have been throughout history. The all say different things and they all insist that they are the only true religion. Every army in history has said that God is on their side.’
‘But they can’t all be right, can they? Only one can be right and that makes all the others wrong and all those Gods, apart from the one true God, must be telling lies? How do you find out who is the one true God?’
‘I really don’t know. I depends where you are born, Ashraf is Muslim because she was born in Iran whereas Fiona was born in Surrey. I think you can choose the one that you like best. What do you think?’
‘I think God should be a woman and then she wouldn’t tell lies and there would be less fighting’
‘Sounds like a good idea to me.’
‘Oh, OK.’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘If you look up at the sky on a dark night, you can see lots of stars.’
‘Err, yes.’
‘Between the stars there is blackness.’
‘Err, yes.’
‘What is in the blackness?’
‘That is full of stars that you cannot see because they are so far away.’
‘Oh, OK.’

*

‘Daddy.’
‘Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’
‘Will you always answer all my questions?
‘Yes, of course I will.’
‘Why are boys different from girls?’
‘Err, go and ask your Mummy.’
‘You don’t know do you?’
‘Err, no.’
‘Fiona’s daddy doesn’t know either, she had to ask her mummy.’

*

‘Dad.’
‘Yes, Favourite Daughter.’
‘Why do you call me your favourite daughter when I don’t have any sisters?’
‘Because you are my favourite.’
‘Why did you used to tell me silly answers about fairies and things when I asked you questions when I was younger?’
‘I gave you answers that I thought were appropriate for a young girl of your age. I hoped, as you grew up, you would gradually realise that they were silly and so you would use your brain to find out the right answers. I wanted you to have an enquiring and sceptical mind. I wanted you not to believe anything someone told you unless you had seen the evidence or proven it to your own satisfaction. I think it worked as I don’t think you believe in fairies anymore?’
‘Err, no, I don’t’
‘Do you think I did right or should I have answered all your questions with the correct scientific answer.’
‘You did right, Dad. I love you. Will you take a photo of me in my gown before the graduation ceremony?’
‘Of course I will. You’re my favourite daughter and I’m very proud of you.’

© Richard Kefford                                                                                 Eorðdraca

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