On our way home from school one day, my 4.5yo asked 'Who will protect the world?'.
I was stumped!
'It depends on what we are protecting the world from.' I answered, trying to buy some time while my mind started to process that question.
I was excited that my merely 4.5yo is asking such a big question. What makes him think of that? Why is he concerned? How can I answer him in simple terms so he can understand and also intrigue him further? How much details should I go into?
He went on... 'To protect the world from earthquakes and volcanoes that erupt! And how to save the people who live near these places? And from forest fires? What about the animals living in the forests when there is a fire?'
So we had quite a big discussion on our way home....
Then another day on an escalator...
'How does the escalator work?'
'Are there escalators that go round and round instead of up and down?' and a few other related questions which I can't remember now.
Even my little Chip is also asking lots of questions, some of which I have to pause and think before I could answer. The other day while I was dressing him,
'Why are elephants gray and why are pigs pink? Why do chameleons change colour?'
Umm... I think all I could say was 'Because that was how God made them'. But I am really not pleased with just explaining in this way. So I explained again in simple terms why chameleons change colours and the whole concept of camouflaging and blah blah...
I can't say enough how much I love my boys' inquisitiveness. I know we must be doing something right in encouraging and fueling this hunger and curiosity in them.
It is not just about the act of asking questions as all kids will be a little more curious as they grow. But it is the wide variety of questions they have and the depth they are going into on each topic that fascinates me.
Hmm.. which brings to mind the whole debate I used to have with some former colleagues on vertical thinkers vs. horizontal thinkers.
Vertical thinking is like digging or drilling deep down into the core of a problem. Thinking horizontally is coming up with new ideas by thinking expansively, in new and different directions. Horizontal thinking is akin to brainstorming.
Gurus and theorists have argued about the relationships of the two processes, which is also aptly summarized by creativity theorist Edward DeBono -
'Lateral thinking enhances the effectiveness of vertical thinking by offering it more to select from. Vertical thinking multiplies the effectiveness of lateral thinking by making good use of the ideas generated.'
My boys are doing fine for their age. And I hope we will keep at it, whatever that we are doing so that one day they will grow to be both vertical and lateral thinkers.