Jokos and Quesons

In my family we’ve developed two terms, quesons and jokos. A joko is the sort of joke that isn’t actually funny that kids make up between the ages of about 4 and 7. For example “knock knock, who’s there? Trousers, trousers who? Trousers on your head hahahaha”, or “how many boots does a centipede wear? 20”

A queson is the type of difficult question children ask, that doesn’t really have an answer, like “why is a man a man?” Sometimes quesons can be frustrating, and make me want to say “just because”. Sometimes they’re difficult to answer because to do them justice would require an answer more sophisticated than the child is capable of really taking in. But more often than not, they’re quite poignant, and really make me think.

I’ve decided that quesons are often similar to questions of a spiritual nature, especially Zen koan. Koan are the kind of impossible question Zen teachers ask their students to help them expand their thinking, kind of like mental gym equipment. The most well known examples are “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” and “if a tree falls in a forest when noone is there, does it make a sound?”.

As a parent I’m starting to embrace quesons. They make me think about my response, about how I can help my kids start learning how to look for the answers themselves. Because I can’t answer them easily I’m forced to explore them together with my kids. So I’m taking “just because” out of my vocabulary, and learning to love questions I can’t answer.

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