children ask questions to find out about the world and how things work

Lemons, Limes and Other Mysteries

Children are question machines, churning out question after question: why is it? how does it? Their mission is to find out about the world and everything in it, not to drive their parents crazy, as many believe.

Of course, the best response to children’s questions is to help them find the answers, unlike in this scenario.

Unknown source. Apologies. Happy to attribute if informed.

I always love the story of David Attenborough shared by Michael Rosen in his wonderful book Good Ideas: How to Be Your Child’s (and Your Own) Best Teacher. Rosen says that, as a child, David took an interest in bones and if he was out walking and found some he would take them home and ask his father (a GP so would probably know) about them.

But his father didn’t just tell him. Wanting his son to be curious and interested in finding things out for himself, he responded, for example: “I wonder if we can work it out . . .” They would then look through books about zoology and anatomy and try to identify the bone’s origin.

I would like to have been a parent like David Attenborough’s father, perhaps more often than I was. But sometimes the situation is not conducive to an immediate quest for answers, and oftentimes we don’t have a satisfactory one to give.

Our language, with multiple meanings for the same word, and an abundance of phrases that can’t only be taken literally, is not the easiest to learn. I often marvel at how well our children learn it and wonder even more about the complexity our language has for learners of English as another language.

Charli Mills flash fiction challenge bottleneck

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a bottleneck. You can be literal or use the term to describe congestion. Go where the prompt leads.

Bottleneck is one of those words that can’t always be taken literally. I’ve used my response to Charli’s prompt to honour parents who are under constant scrutiny and bombardment with questions from their little ones. Sometimes it feels more like a battleground and they do well to maintain a peaceful composure. I hope you enjoy it.

Lemons, Limes and Other Mysteries

She hit the brakes and thumped the steering wheel.

“Mummy swore.”

“Didn’t.”

“I heard.”

“Why we stopped, Mummy?”

“There’s a traffic jam.”

“Jam? I love stawbrey jam sammich.”

“Not that jam — must be a bottleneck up ahead.” Please be a merge, not an accident.

“We learned ‘bout bottlenecks today.”

“What?”

“Live in the ocean. Maminals, like us. Where’s bottleneck, Mummy?”

“Not bottleneck, Jamie, bottlenose.”

“You said bottleneck.”

“I meant — aargh!”

Finally, they were home.

“You look frazzled, hon.”

She rolled her eyes and took the beer.

“Why lemon is in your bottle neck?” asked Jamie.

“Because it’s not lime.”

Why do they put that lemon or lime in a Corona? Do you know?

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

48 thoughts on “Lemons, Limes and Other Mysteries

  1. Patricia Tilton

    Wish I would have been more of a parent like David Attenborough’s father. I do love curious kids, especially now that I’m older and wiser. That’s what’s fun about being a grandparent and great grandparent. I enjoyed your flash fiction, Norah!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Perhaps this is only one incidence and David’s father was mortal like us and sometimes didn’t go to such lengths. 🙂 But it is a good story. Are you really a great grandparent, Patricia? How wonderful. Congratulations!
      I’m pleased you enjoyed my story.

      Like

      Reply
  2. dgkaye

    Loved your little story before the flash too Norah. Yes, children are eternal questioners, lol. I was like that myself. I only wish I had a parent who took the time to satisfy my curiosity. I guess I just grew up more curious. 🙂 The flash was a well done example of the same. And I believe the lime in the beer is to cute the bitterness of the beer? Just a guess, I hate beer. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Debby. I’m sorry you didn’t have a parent who answered your questions, but I’m pleased it made you grow up more curious. I would say I was actively discouraged from asking questions as I grew up. I had to relearn how to ask them as an adult. My children taught me. 🙂
      Like you, I don’t enjoy beer, so the question of lemon and lime is really of little interest to me, except as a curiosity. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Charli Mills

    A lemon a day keeps mommy happy by the bay! My son, the mixologist, would say it has something to do with cutting the bitterness of beer. A summer shandy mixes lemonade with beer and makes me shudder — I tasted one once. Once. I like a dry-hopped IPA with that citrus essence but an “aggressive” bitterness. But this mum wants nothing bitter, thus the lemon.

    You really carry the dialog well in this flash, Norah. Your pacing and dual tensions between the frazzled mum and chipper child add notes to the unfolding conversation with its cute mishmash of language. Curiosity is so vital and I love seeing it alive in exciteable children and weary adults.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Perhaps the mixologist is right. I couldn’t seem to find a definitive answer when I looked for this post. I’m not a beer drinker. Whether it’s hops or yeast, I don’t like the smell or the taste.
      I appreciate your kind words on my story. I enjoyed writing it, once I figured out what I’d write about. It was a bit of a challenge to get it to this stage, but I was happy with it in the end. I do enjoy writing about frazzled mums and young children. The field is wide open. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. robbiesinspiration

    A lovely post, Norah. I loved the cartoon and the flash fiction. Greg always asked so many questions. We would Google the answers together if I didn’t know so that we could both learn. I also bought him a lovely set of books called Mickey wonders why? Lots of interesting questions and answers. He also have strange religious questions. I had to take him to our minister sometimes to get the right answers for him.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, Robbie. I love the questions children ask. Finding out the answers helps me learn too! I hope the minister was able to provide the answers to Greg’s questions.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  5. Annecdotist

    I love that cartoon, and you carry that frazzlement beautifully into your flash. As Geoff says, great dialogue just waiting for his comp.
    I don’t know if it’s specific to a particular brand, but there was a phase when it was considered ever so sophisticated to drink a strong lager through a lime in the bottleneck – I think at the time limes were less common over here. As for the lime/lemon thing, the lemons I came across in India were definitely lime-coloured. I don’t think I asked about limes. Too many other why questions, I imagine.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your kind words, Anne. I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the lemons and limes. Too many questions, indeed, but in the words of Cat Stevens, “We’re on the road to find out.”

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  6. Jacqui Murray

    I constantly annoy my children because when they ask a question, I dig into it. I’m curious about everything.

    For example, the unattributed comic. I tried it in Tineye.com and Images.google.com–nothing but your blog! That’s highly unusual. I just finished teaching a class on the legal use of images so this definitely grabbed my attention! I’ve spent hours trying to find attribution for images so I don’t annoy people or worse–break the law–so I know how you feel about this image.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      It’s great to maintain that curiosity, isn’t it, Jacqui. Sometimes I think I’m even more curious, asking more questions than they do.
      Thank you so much for trying to find the source of the comic. I hadn’t been able to find it either, obviously. I took the clipping years ago, before I would have thought of using it in this way. I clipped just because I enjoyed it so much. Like you, I am very careful about the images I use and make sure I attribute as required.

      Like

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  7. Susan Scott

    So enjoyed this Norah thank you! The cartoons were very amusing! As was your flash! I remember my sons as young boys always asking ‘why’ questions – one day I responded – Y is a crooked letter and you can’t make it straight .. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Ooh, thanks, Geoff. That’s wonderful praise from the master. I’ll see how I go with your prompt when the time comes, been thinking about it though.

      Like

      Reply
  8. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    It is a scientific fact (alternative) that with the addition of just a bit of lime or lemon to beer you have a complete and nutritious bottled meal.
    Love how you went from one bottleneck to another. The nuances, idioms and dialects of language are fascinating and are what make the prompts so much fun with such varied responses.
    Great job with the kid perspective.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much, D. I enjoyed writing this one. I had a few different thoughts to begin with but had to whittle it down to get it through the bottle neck. 🙂
      Thanks also for your version of the lemon and lime fact. Every time Hub has a Corona he asks the same question. I suggest he Google it, but he never has. I hadn’t either as I think he should if he wants to know. (I can be a bit obstinate at times and don’t always want to be his fact checker) but I did this morning. Your fact seems as likely as any other I read. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply

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