The play of questions: A child’s view

The world is full of unexplained things, and it seems that as adults we can develop various different responses to this. One person might shrug it off, another might be perplexed by it, and still another might dedicate themselves to probing every last detail. Children, though, seem to come at this from a different place. They have not yet habituated themselves to such an awareness of reality. And this is startling really. They haven’t yet boxed off questions according to type: questions which might be asked in a philosophy class, and questions which would be better suited to a biology lab. The things children ask can come to mind at any moment, and be dropped just as easily as they have been taken up. for fear of losing the brilliance of a three-year-old’s questions, here is a small collection of them to share: 

On the deity:
“How does God hold the whole world in his hands? It’s so big and it’s too heavy. And what side is he on? Is he up or down?”

“Is God a rainbow?” 
“But is he made of different colours?”
“Because he’s dressed all in white.” 

On the natural world:
“It’s not sunny today. I wonder what the sun’s doing. Maybe he’s having his breakfast?”

Pointing to a picture of a flamingo standing on one leg:
“Why do they do that?” 
“I’ve never really been sure about that.” 
“They must be practising for the oki koki.”

On mathematical concepts: 
“Mummy, what shape is a person?” 
“Ah, that’s quite complicated isn’t it, a person isn’t really a defined shape.”
“I know! A person is nearly a triangle shape!” 

On how bodies are perceived:
Pointing to the hairs on my arm: “boys don’t like Mummies having those”. We talk about how people feel differently about hairs on arms as opposed to hairs on legs. Of hairs on legs, she asks: “why do they grow there, like weeds in a garden?”

On social institutions:
At three years one month: “am I going to be married soon?” 

On what happens afterwards:
“You’ll be carried everywhere in a big big box when you’re dead.”

On considering the lives of others:
At four years old, while having breakfast, nine months after Russia’s renewed invasion of Ukraine:
“Has the war finished yet?” 
“They must be tired mustn’t they.” 
“Have they been fighting all night?” 
“Some of them will have been, yes.” 

Image by Marna Buys from Pixabay 



  1. Anonymous · January 4

    Thanks for this Grace – I always feel blessed by the questions children ask – it feels a shame that so many of us as we grow older stop asking them, or perhaps stop thinking them! I was reminded of this poem whilst reading your blog here:

    Answer To A Child’s Question

    Do you ask what the birds say? The sparrow, the dove,
    The linnet, and thrush say, ‘I love and I love!’
    In the winter they’re silent, the wind is so strong;
    What it says I don’t know, but it sings a loud song.
    But green leaves and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
    And singing, and loving, all come back together.
    Then the lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
    The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
    That he sings, and he sings, and forever sings he–
    ‘I love my Love, and my Love loves me!’

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

    Also, a short story I recently read in a Shared Reading group called A Day in the Country by Chekoc – where there is a little boy with a whole lot of wonderful questions!

    One of my favourite words from little ones is ‘Why?’ A good one is it not?!

    Clare x


    • Grace · January 4

      Oh Clare, thank you for reminding me of this poem, it makes a bit more sense to me now! I’m off to read your short story recommendation x


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