Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: COMPUTER (05/19/16)
TITLE: Questions and Answers
By Belinda Peoples
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The three of us were sitting in the kitchen, munching on bowls of cereal. Well, at least the boys were. I was halfway between choking and bursting into peals of laughter.
“Go ahead, Love,” said my husband sarcastically, smiling over the top of the coffee machine. “You’ve got this one in the bag.”
Still trying to clear my throat of its wayward chunks of Weet-bix, I cast my husband a dirty look for his cheeky mock encouragement, then turned back to the boys, trying my best to restore an appearance of sincerity.
“Sorry boys, Mummy’s breakfast was crunching too loudly, I’m not sure I heard you properly,” I said, stalling for time to think. “Could you ask me your questions again?”
“I said, how much does the sun weigh, Mum?” Nick repeated.
“And does it have a shadow?” Ryan sighed, obviously tiring of my incompetence.
“Gosh, boys, I’m not sure…” (I had diddly-squat for an answer). “They’re very clever questions, though. Let’s look them up on the computer later, OK?”
“OK,” they answered together, and returned to their breakfast.
I made a mental note to remember my suggestion. I really did want to answer their questions, but it was barely 7 o’clock on a fine Tuesday morning. Already that week I’d been asked “What is a machine?”, “How do brains think?”, “Is the grass inside the seed?” and “Are there really witches that ride on broomsticks in this world?”
I stood to take my empty bowl to the sink. Milky mess had spread from the boys’ bowls across the table, and even onto the floor.
“How is it,” I whispered, pausing at my husband’s ear, “that they can ask such clever questions and yet still not coordinate their spoons into their mouths!?”
We both glanced back at the careless culprits. Now Nick was reading excerpts about Mercury to his younger brother from his Science Encyclopaedia, which lay open on the table. Their half-eaten breakfast was long forgotten.
“Boys! Please stop reading and finish your cereal.” They looked at me, then at their bowls, as if it was a revelation they’d been eating breakfast at all.
Meanwhile, my husband was silently laughing. “Did you ever think you’d be telling your kids to stop reading?” he asked me.
“Sounds wrong, doesn’t it?” I replied, shaking my head.
“Mum?” Nick queried.
“I just have one more question.”
“Alright, what is it?”
“If Mercury is made of iron, and it’s that close to the Sun, why doesn’t the iron melt?”
I paused for a moment, wishing again that my capacity to answer their questions was as impressive as their ability to ask them.
“Come on then,” I answered resignedly, gesturing for both boys to follow me. My cup of tea and toast would have to wait.
“Where are we going?” Ryan asked.
“To the Study,” I replied. “Time to ask Professor Google all these questions!”
The boys and I spent almost an hour with our eyes glued to the computer screen. People infinitely more clever than me had kindly placed mountains of information on the Internet at my disposal, for times such as these. It felt good to answer the boys properly and teach myself something new at the same time.
Four years have passed since that morning. Ryan and Nick are now eight and ten years old. Not too much has changed. We still consult Professor Google on a wide variety of topics, trying to satisfy the never-ending curiosity in our household. The breakfast continues to make a huge mess on and under the table each morning.
The only difference is that sometimes they now try thinking of answers on their own before we go to the computer. This development has created a new marvel for me. It’s fascinating to observe how they absorb and process every detail of their expanding world.
“Mum, where does the name ‘Rapadura’ come from?” Ryan ponders.
Before I can answer he says, “I think it’s named after Roman gods. So many things are! Venus, Uranus, Mercury…”
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