“Answering The Questions Of Children,” by Nick Hilbourn

May 6th, 2015 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Good evening, internet audience. My name is Nick Hilbourn and, yes, I am a father and a competent authority on parental advice. It came to my realization around 2:34 am this morning that children ask many, many questions. They are curious beings. As parents we should usually encourage these questions, although we should discourage stupid questions.

As we approach the holiday season to celebrate the coming fiscal year, I felt compelled to assist those parents with 2 years of experience or less in navigating this potential minefield.

I can somewhat sympathize with parents who are overwhelmed by the amount of questions that they receive from their “so-called” biological children (I always remind my children of the percentage of error in their actual relation to me in order to keep them on their toes). I didn’t go through this. I read a lot of books before I had a child. In fact, I was reading a lot MORE books before my child was born and my child has crippled the expediency with which I finish books and write my postmodern short stories.

Now, when I say questions, I don’t mean the stereotypical, “Why is the sky blue?” or “Why is mommy sad?” These aren’t real questions. They’re joke questions thought up by child joke writers to confuse parents.

I’m going to outline a few common questions that you, as a parent will receive in your daily travail as a parent and how to respond.

Why is the basement door locked?

Tell them, “It’s too complicated. You can’t understand.” Always a good fallback if you forget everything else. This is always a difficult question because, to me, they don’t really deserve to know why the basement is locked. It’s a place where I like to go and have my Creative Time. There are books down there, VHS tapes of myself doing stand-up in The Basement, Settlers of Catan with a Best-Of scoring chart just over the Nick Hilbourn Doing-Stand-Up Viewing Station. How can children understand?

Is there a God?

I have always tried to be direct and honest with my kids on this one. Whenever it comes up, I give them my annotated copy of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I tell them to finish it and come ask me any content-clarification questions the next day. Usually, that’s enough. But sometimes there may be follow-up queries.

Is there a Santa Claus?

I usually tell them that I’ll answer it tomorrow. That night, I sneak into their room and snatch the Dawkins book from their desk. Then, I write “Santa” on a Post-It Note spray painted silver and attach that over the word “God”. The next morning their answer has appeared, ironically, in the same format that Santa stereotypically does. Do they get this? Well, irony’s part of the full package that I offer as a parent.

But occasionally, there is backlash from this.

Why does mommy say there’s a Santa, but you don’t?

I take the child by the shoulders and lead them into mommy’s bedroom, remaining just at the door. I say (in a whisper), “Can you see mommy in the bed over there?” “Yes,” they reply, “she’s sleeping like an angel.” “Yes. Whatever.” I say, “Mommy’s not very smart, you know. In fact, do you know that yesterday she thought Rivers Cuomo was the lead singer of Blink-182? What an IDIOT. Mommy is a scared, simple little being who thinks that she needs to deceive you by pretending to be Santa Claus every year. She waits until you go to sleep and then she puts all the presents in the living room as if it was really Santa Claus. But really that’s mommy trying to gain ideological power over you. It’s the same reason she makes daddy sleep in the basement.”

Always works. If the kid asks about the basement, then you already know what to do.

Will you ever die?

I’m always relating my answers, as much as possible, to world events to keep my children plugged into the world feed. This question is no exception. I usually open with a content-clarification: “Well, my body will die…yes. But my mind? That will be uploaded onto my blog in both video and audio form. It will be categorized into weekly podcasts so that people can retrieve invaluable resources on my opinions on all kinds of subjects.”

Sometimes, the kid tries to pull a hat trick on me. “Will mommy ever die?” And I usually reply, “She’s already dead.” If it’s early morning or late at night, then I take them to the bedroom and point out their mommy’s inert form on the bed. “Look,” I say. “Look how lazy mommy is and look how active daddy is going to be. He’s going to be working ALL NIGHT on his blog, which is for you and all future generations. While mommy just lays there. Doing nothing.”

The child usually agrees.


Defenestration-Nick Hilbourn 3Nick Hilbourn now owns eleven Apple iPads.  He lives in the Lower East Side and writes haikus for Yaffa Café.  His favorite food is biscuits.

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