Every parent will tell you that getting one's children to take no for an answer is one of the more frustrating parts of this job. Equally exasperating, but less talked about, is the acceptance of I don't know.
I think this has something to do with the perception of parental omnipotence, which is something I'd like to preserve for as long as possible. On the other hand, I don't want to lie to my children, because lacking the ability to think quickly on my feet, I am a lousy liar, but also because I want to preserve the sacred bond of trust my children place in me.
This dilemma leads to many conversations like this one I had with Sarah over the weekend.
"When is Sean's birthday?" she asked.
"I don't know." I replied.
"Is it April 10?"
"I know it's near your birthday, but I'm not certain exactly when it is."
"Is it April 5?"
"Sarah, when I tell you I don't know when it is, it's not because I'm hiding anything from you. It's because I truly don't know the answer to your question. Why don't we just ask him the next time we see him?"
"Do you think it's at the end of the month?"
This type of thing could go on for a while, and sometimes it does. For me, it captures perfectly the nature of this job, and perhaps, of life itself. Namely, the ability to be adorable, comic and exasperating in equal measures, while simultaneously, utterly defying logic.