> The really fascinating thing for me as I experience my son's questions is that the most correct answer to each of them would be "I don't know."
Correct answer? As in "this will be on the test"?
Its worth thinking about why you want a single correct answer, like that, but more than that, its worth thinking about why your child is asking you a question in the first place. Doling out single, correct answers, including "I don't know" can shut down conversation and erode a relationship.
There's an idea that some parents have that a sense of wonder is something that needs to be promoted and encouraged - and that can turn into a kind of closet curriculum for parents, as if children can be taught to wonder by being given vague answers, regardless of what the child is looking for. In that sense "I don't know" can become as dogmatic as "this is The Truth".
Trust that your kids already have a sense of wonder and excitement about the world. You don't need to push it along! And you don't need to define it in your own terms. Maybe its exciting *to you* to wonder at the potential for beyond the rainbow, but your child isn't you - he may rather wonder at the physics of refraction itself and find all the stuff about magic misses the beautiful paradox of the photon.
> The world gets bigger and bigger, more and more open. I was taught in fact and limits, and now each question reveals an assumption with a jello-like foundation. Fun to explore.
Fun for you. Maybe fun for your child - but that's the question, isn't it. Are you letting your own ideas about what's important get in the way of what your child would rather explore? Are you letting your closet-curriculum of mysteries get in the way of someone looking for data?
It doesn't have to be one thing or another, fact Or Fiction - and maybe that's what J. means. Recently Mo and I have been reading a fantasy series about dragon riders set in a facsimilie of ancient Egypt. As a result of that, she's been curious about real Egypt, so we've been looking through books and websites and talking about what's known and not-known, about archeology and history, alphabets and customs... and in the last couple weeks about politics and democracy since Egypt has been in the news in exciting ways. So learning is swirling around, in and out of fact and fiction and the gray area that is "history" - and there's a Lot of that gray area in Egypt! There's a lot of "no-one really knows for sure, but...". A lot of wondering to be done. And, at the same time, there's a chance to see how wondering fades into true fiction. I'm not pretending that maybe there used to be dragons in Egypt - but know that part is pretend doesn't make the stories less fun, or the people we're reading about less wonderful. It doesn't automatically make the world smaller to say a fantasy isn't real - it can make our human capacity for imagining all the more miraculous.