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Tracy Briggs, Published May 19 2009

Parenting Perspectives: Child’s questions challenge mom’s wit

Fargo is home to a gem of a children’s entertainer. Her name is Penny Andrist of Penny & Pals.

Moms, you know who I’m talking about. She’s the overall-wearing, spunky woman who gives us “Bernie the Bear,” “Rockin’ Robot” and even sings of “Uncle Underwood’s Unbelievably Ugly Underwear.” Her songs teach children everything from reading to buckling seat belts.

It’s all geared to the kids. But somehow Penny slipped a song onto one of her DVDs that’s more geared toward mom and dad. “Queen of the Quackers” profiles a mommy duck who is being driven slightly quacky with the questions her ducklings ask all day. Welcome to my life. I’m only missing the bill and the webbed feet.

I love that my children are inquisitive. It shows they’re curious and ready to learn. What concerns me is how often I feel like I don’t know the answers.

“Mommy, why does thunder make that noise?”

I tried to be cute as I searched for an answer, “Well, honey, maybe it’s God bowling.”

I got a “don’t try to be funny, Mom” look.

OK, my kid wants a serious answer. “Uh, it’s clouds crashing together.”

She didn’t buy that either. This was serious.

Finally I told my daughter I’d ask the meteorologists with whom I work at WDAY. They’re all dads. I bet they have all the answers, especially if it has to do with barometric pressure, the jet stream, or relative humidity. Rob Kupec answered my question in a kid-appropriate way. Although I still think “clouds crashing together” isn’t half bad.

I’m pretty sure my 5-year-old is headed for a career with the CIA, or at least as a pretend prosecutor on “Law and Order.” She has a way of delivering her questions without giving me a chance to answer. They’re peppered at me with blinding speed. Just when I’m trying to formulate an answer to question No. 1 she’s moved on to question two. I want to yell, “I object! You’re badgering the mommy.”

Here’s an example from about a year ago. Within a span of 30 seconds she threw these questions at me:

“Why does Daddy have a brother?”

“Why was Jesus a baby?”

“Why do I have a princess bedroom?”

Family history, theology and interior decorating all in one fell swoop.

Now that she’s 5 the questions keep coming. But I think at times she’s toying with me. She knows the answers to the questions. She’s just testing me. Consider our interaction the other day as we drove through our neighborhood watching crews clean up the mess from the recent flood:

“Mom, what are those guys doing?”

“Well, remember that flood we had? That dirt was here to protect us from the river. Now that the flood is over they’re trying to take down that big dirt hill so our streets will be clean again.”

Not bad, huh? Clear, concise, in language that preschoolers understand. But with her reply, it was obvious I fell short.

“Mom, it’s not a dirt hill. It’s called a dike.”

Maybe Penny should write a song about smart-aleck 5-year-olds and parents who can’t keep up.

Briggs is a mother of two and a personality for WDAY AM 970