The need to know

I’ve mentioned before that Frances’s curiosity, from about the age of two, has been so intense that she will even ask questions in her sleep or wake up to ask them.

Ordinarily, this doesn’t pose a problem beyond the fact that it is sometimes physically impossible to answer the sheer number of questions that occur in rapid-fire succession.

Yet when she was three, we had received exclusive invitation-only tickets to a piano performance. I was very reluctant to take Frances, but, at the last minute, I decided to do so.

She was very quiet throughout, but just near the end, I felt a tug at my sleeve. I put my finger to my lips to remind her to be quiet. Then, I felt another, more insistent tug on my sleeve.

“Mummy…Mummy!” she half-whispered.

This time, I gave her the quiet sign and mouthed “shhh” at the same time.

“Mummy! Mummy!! I have to ask a question.”

“No,” I mouthed. “Not yet.”

But she didn’t understand me or she chose to ignore me because, finally, she could take it no more.

“Mummy, do babies have tongues?”

What? No,” I answered, completely flustered, feeling as if I was going to faint.

“They don’t? Then how do they chew?”

“Yes, yes,” I whispered back. “They do have tongues. Now, shhh…”

People must have heard us because it was otherwise so silent in the recital hall, but, in retrospect, I’m glad that she asked me her pressing question.

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