Once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl. Her skin was the color of dark mocha. Her hair was joyfully bouncy, and curled like baby grapevines do. It was as black as darkest night. Her teeth glistened white and her lips were full. Her smile shone like light breaking through clouds.
One day the beautiful little girl was coloring with crayons. She colored the sky “B…L…U…E.”, reading the color and drawing the sky. She drew a peach tree and colored the leaves on it “G…R…E…E…N. “ She picked up a crayon to color the peaches. “F…L…E…S…H,” was what that crayon said.
“Momma,” the girl asked, “what does FLESH mean?” Her momma said, “It means skin, my baby. Why do you ask?”
The beautiful little girl answered with another question; “Why does this crayon say flesh then? My skin is like chocolate, not like peaches.”
The girl’s momma – whose skin was dark as dusk – didn’t cry, though she wanted to. Instead, she gently picked up the crayon, and said, “That’s a question for later, dearest one.”
The girl’s momma took a box from a cabinet and put the “flesh” colored crayon into it. “This is your question box.” the girl’s momma said, “When you have a question I’m not ready to answer, we’ll save it for later in here.”
The little girl took the box and drew on it. She loved her question box, and guarded it like a box of treasures. After all, it was a box of treasures. The box was filled with the girl’s deepest curiosities.
Over the years the girl grew, and she put questions of all sorts in the box. Sometimes they were in the form of objects, like the crayon, sometimes drawings, and later it was written notes. She and her mother would take the questions out one by one, and her mother would answer the ones she felt ready to.
It was a long time before the girl’s momma was ready to answer the question about the flesh colored crayon. But answer she did. She told her daughter a story about her ancestors, and about the world. The momma told her daughter about dark and night and the unknown. She told her about fairness and what’s right.
And the girl’s momma gave her a gift. Though the beautiful girl was no longer little, and didn’t really color with crayons anymore, her momma handed her a crayon that was the same color as the one from years before. The crayon said, “P…E…A…C…H.”
The daughter and the momma both smiled. In that moment they knew for certain that there was a right time for every question, and a right time for every answer.
How to Make A Question Box
Honoring Your Child’s Questions with Answers
Sometimes the most honest answer is “That’s not a question I’m ready to answer.” If that’s the case, follow up appropriately. Let your child know when you would be willing to revisit the topic – whether it’s in a couple of days, or when your kid is in the fifth grade, or when she or he is 13, or when you’ve sorted your thoughts and feelings out. Always be responsible and proactive with the follow-up.
How to Make Your Question Box
Having your own question box makes it easy to keep track of the questions you’re not ready to answer. A question box offers a structure that will honor your child’s question and your boundaries and comfort zones at the same time.
You will need:
1. A box. You can easily recycle one that’s the size you want, or you can use a sturdy, craft-ready wooden box from your local craft store. The box should be small enough to fit on a counter or desk, and large enough to hold items your wee one has questions about.
2. Paints, collage items (glue, scissors, etc), or drawing implements. Optional: sequins, bedazzlements, glitter, other fun stuff.
Once you’ve chosen a box, decorate it with your kid(s). Paint, collage, or draw on it. Get as fun and fancy as you like! Make your question box easy to open and close.
How to Use Your Question Box
When a question comes up that you’re not ready to answer, choose an item that will serve as a conversation-starter on the topic at a later date. This can be a piece of paper with the topic written on it, or an item that is symbolic of the topic.
Decide on a time when you will review the items in the box and answer the questions, or at least revisit them.
This piece is supplemental to an article called Seven Steps to Healthy Communication with Your Kids, also by Lasara Firefox Allen. Find this article and many others at www.LasaraFirefoxAllen.com.