The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.


When is a Question a Question?

10-18-2010 Column

As a mom, I am required to know where my children are at all times. At least that is what it feels like sometimes. When they were little, the kids swore that I had “eyes in the back of my head”. I knew exactly who jumped off of the couch and smashed the Lincoln Log cabin another one was building. What amazed the kids is that I could do it when I wasn’t even in the same room! I would be standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes with my back to the living room, yet I “knew” what was going on.

The kids didn’t realize that I actually could see what they were doing. A strategically placed mirror facing the couch offered me a view into the room the kids were playing in. The mirror would reflect the image to the kitchen window and I could “watch” what they were doing. Of course it was generally the same kid creating the entire racket in the living room.

Now that the kids are helping on the farm and have their own responsibilities, I have less knowledge of where they are at all times, especially when I’ve been in the barn milking for the past 45 minutes.

As I’m squatting in between two cows, Mark will inevitably ask me where someone is. For the past 45 minutes the only view of the world I have is boxed in with white walls and the back side of Holstein cows.

How am I suppose to know where everyone is. The “eyes in the back of my head” have gone dim as the kids have gotten older. Now the view is sharpest in front of me.

Learning when a question requires an answer or just a supportive nod is difficult to decipher. I haven’t quite figured out all of the cues as to my response. My naturally reaction is to give an answer to any question posed to me. That is my “first child” syndrome to please the teachers with my “knowledge”.? This reaction generally gets me in trouble. Not all questions require answers. Sometimes questions are a way for others to sort out and solve their own dilemma. But when I don’t have an answer and one was expected, I behind again!

When is a question a question and when is it a “polite command”? I’ll ask the kids..”can you please bring up the straw?” The kids will look at me and depending upon their mood do it, or ask me a similar question. “do I have a choice?” No, it is a polite way of telling them what to get done instead of always ordering them around. I’m trying to give them the sense of making the decision to do something. Build up their self-esteem.

“Is that a question with options or a command?”


As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.