DENVER — It should come as no surprise that the offspring of two journalists — two competitive journalists who bring their work to the dining room table — can turn any car ride into a press conference.
From his booster seat in the back, he gleefully fires off question after question, sometimes trampling on the answer so that he can get to the next question before he forgets. His briefings are not left to the car alone. Watching a movie for the first time with Ian is the equivalent of a final exam — a question comes every few minutes about a character’s backstory, the plot ahead or whether or not there is a sequel we need to be sure to have to watch tomorrow.
I told him at the start of our guys’ trip on the plane that he was a very inquisitive boy.
“Daddy,” he said, “what does ‘inquisitive’ mean?”
As we drive around the Front Range and dart into the mountains to see family and friends here in Colorado, we’ve had a lot of quality time to talk. That means he’s had a lot of time to quiz me. Here is a sampling of the questions I’ve been asked in the past 48 hours:
— “Does Clark Kent live in Gotham?”
— “Where is Metropolis? What state is it in?”
— “Daddy, what does ‘self-destruct’ mean?”
— “What’s a pimple?”
— “Have I ever had a pimple before?”
— “Daddy, What does ‘resistance’ mean?”
— “How do you join a resistance?”
— “What does it mean to ‘grow up somewhere’?”
— “Who is Flash’s bad guy? How come we don’t hear more about him?”
— “Who is your favorite super hero?”
— “No, I mean only Marvel.”
— “Daddy, is this game/song/movie appropriate for me?”
— “Why not?”
— “What does ‘dilly-dally’ mean?”
— “Why does Gollum lose the ring if he wants it so badly? He should keep better track of his stuff.”
— “Daddy, do all the Doctor’s speak British?”
— “When you were 5, what did you and your friends play all the time at recess?”
— “What’s ‘dodgeball’?”
The best question of all is the one that Ian has, in the past few weeks, started asking the most often. By strict definition it’s a rhetorical question, though the boy wonder isn’t quite sure how to deliver it during the course of a conversation. He asks it and waits for an answer when later in his life — give him a few weeks — he’ll just surge ahead into the reason he asked. By loose definition, it’s not a question at all. It’s a setup. It’s prelude. It’s a shift in the press conference that tells you the inquisition is over and now it’s the questioners turn to share some info.
“Didn’t you know this?” Ian will begin and wait for an answer.
“No,” his mother or I dutifully respond.
And then he launches into an explanation on how Mrs. Claus found Santa as a baby and he didn’t have any parents but he was lucky enough to have a blanket with the word “Claus” written on a tag inside and the elves found that so they knew his name and the elves helped Mrs. Claus raise Santa into being the old Santa and eventually he fit into his beard and learned how to talk to reindeer and taught the elves how to make toys and invented Christmas and also got married to Mrs. Claus but … that’s kind of weird. How did he marry Mrs. Claus when she found him as a baby? Wasn’t she older than him? And how was her name Claus, too?
Looks like the press conference is back on.