Child: MOM!!! Did you KNOW that elephants poop babies out of their BEHIND!??
Me: I did not know…but I am pretty sure that is inaccurate information.
Which of course set me up for:
Child: Inaccurate, you mean wrong?? How do elephant babies get out? And how do they get in there in the first place??
Me: sigh. I don’t know…the frozen food aisle is not a great place for this discussion.
Child: Where is a great place? In the car? At home? Where? Why not now?
Me: well, uh, um, hmmm…I don’t know.
Oh. My. Word.
I don’t know…
A few years ago, one of my daughters told me I said “I don’t know” a LOT.
She told me I use it too much, and that if I know an answer I should just answer the question instead of saying “I don’t know.” Which at first seemed rather bossy for a child to a parent…but then she clarified.
“You saying that makes me nervous.”
Which I didn’t understand so I questioned her further. And what I discovered was that she doesn’t like anyone to say “I don’t know”…ever. Living in foster care where all matters of life were total unknowns…where “I don’t know” was literally an answer for every question she had makes the phrase “I don’t know” painful.
She then informed me that “I don’t know” is her personal cuss word….very profound.
This turned into quite a challenge for me.
You see, I like “I don’t know” a whole, whole, lot…
It is just so easy, so helpful, to have that to pull out when crazy questions strike.
Where do babies come from?
How old is that lady?
When I drive, do I get to drive the bus?
When can I move out?
Why does dad have hairy pits?
It is so tempting to answer “I DON’T KNOW” to all of these.
But with the revelation that it is a potentially frightening phrase…I am trying to cut down on it’s use.
My all-purpose answer is now not so great…I miss it, and sometimes I slip up.
Like in this elephant pooping other elephants discussion. I am well versed enough in procreation that I know that elephants do not come “pooping” out of other elephants rear-ends.
But in my defense, what am I really supposed to say while searching for frozen lima beans while one child (very loudly) proclaims that he knows where baby elephants come from?
I cannot explain to you how badly I did NOT want to have a grocery store discussion about elephant birth canals!
So I said “I don’t know” THREE times, which earned me an anxiety ridden look from one of the girls.
So, I leaned over to the elephant-poops-babies kid and whispered some slightly pertinent, maybe-accurate information about elephant moms…to which he gave me a knowing grin and nod.
Elephant birthing crisis resolved. For the moment.
I really don’t know. Really.
While checking out I felt I needed to remind my daughter that some things I really don’t know.
You know, things like how to sew or wiggle my ears.
This obsession with “I don’t know” always gets me thinking. I really don’t know very much.
I don’t know the names of most of my children’s biological fathers. I don’t know how to explain their earlier years to them in a way that isn’t scary. I don’t know how to fix their anxieties as quickly as I would like. I don’t know how to tell them the memories of their life before they came here all fit into a cardboard box consisting of legal paperwork. I don’t know how many biological siblings they have or most of their first words or when they took their first step. That is a lot of unknowns. And I can easily put myself in the doldrums if I dwell on all the things I just don’t know.
Enter sweet lady…
While exiting the store after our awkward and slightly traumatic shopping event, we see a sweet little lady that we see almost every week. And every time we see her, she says the same thing.
“What a lovely family! You are blessed.”
And that one sweet little grocery store lady helps restore sanity, she gets my mind on what I do know…instead of fixating on what I don’t.
What do I know?
I know I will hear Joseph singing at the top of his lungs every morning. I know I will have T.C. and Judsen explaining (once again) why they should not have to do school…like ever…and then I will watch them drag their schoolwork out to get lessons done when arguments don’t work. I know Mia and Celee will fly through school and then paint their fingernails four different colors before dinner, and want me to see each and every color. I know Corban will do a little wiggly dance when he gets excited about playing a computer game.
I know that I am called to this life. I know what my purpose is. I know that my life would be empty without these little lives that fill it each and every day. I know that I do none of this on my own.
I know I am blessed…
So thanks to the sweet grocery store lady, (I should find out what her name is!) who reminded me…