Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Where does the water go?

down the plughole

At the end of bathtime the other night, R said, as she often does ‘Where does the water go?’ She used to be satisfied with ‘Down the plughole’, but more recently she needs more information, ‘Down the plughole, then through the pipes and down through the drain pipes outside and into underground pipes that go along under the road, and eventually go into the sea. I think. I’ll have to check.’

And suddenly I realised I was going to have to brush up on a lot of things that I haven’t really thought about for a while, so that I can answer her questions as accurately as possible. I missed out the water treatment plant, by the way. And, of course, she now needs to know where the water comes from, so I had to brush up on evaporation and precipitation. Quite often I ask resort to ‘We’ll have to check with Daddy. I think he might know that one.’ or ‘I think … but I’ll check on the Internet after you’ve gone to sleep.’ I need to get better at remembering to look it up.

Do your children ask questions you can’t answer? What do you say? Do you know of any websites with lots of simple answers to the sorts of questions children ask? (I found the water answers on one of the water companies’ websites.)

Photo credit: Vertigogen


  1. I love this post and the questions it provokes. My son isn't quite old enough for in depth questions yet (he is still at 'what' questions, rather than 'why' ones), however I am constantly challenged by language questions. The other day in the car he told me there was a tunnel coming up. "No", I said, "that's not a tunnel, it's a bridge". Then I spent the rest of the journey wondering when a bridge becomes a tunnel. Things like that are a daily source of stress to me.

  2. Little Girl knows that pulling the plug and not putting it back in quickly, means the end of bathtime. And, although she doesn't understand yet, I tell her it goes to water her Granny in South Africa's garden.

    I suppose propaganda like that won't last long either...

  3. I find there is absolutely no point planning for these questions because they are so random you could never be prepared.
    "Why are bogies green?"
    "Who does Superman's washing?"
    "How big is God?"
    "If spiders can come up the plughole, why can't sharks?"
    "Why do my baby teeth fall out?"
    "Why don't aliens come to this planet when they're always here in the movies?"
    My son asks LOTS of questions and I blag it every time

  4. My daughter asked me the other day all about why the same journey sometimes seems long, and sometimes seems short. When I'd finished muddling my way through that one, she came out with "well, how do we know what is really real?" Yikes!

  5. MTJAM: I think it's great, because it opens our minds up much more; makes us more curious ourselves; and gives us the opportunity to look at the world from a whole new perspective. Wonderful.

    Surprised: R still has the taking out the plughole as the end of bathtime. Well, obviously, I suppose, but it's graduated from me taking the plug out and saying 'End of bathtime', to it being the end if she took it out, to being part of the tidy-up and get out of the bath routine. Very useful!

    Tara: Oh wow. Those are brilliant - see comment above to MTJAM. I think they're great, though I do at the moment feel duty-bound to try to give the right answers, where possible (though I might defer to hubby on any superman questions!). I'm sure I'll change my mind as they get more and more frequent!

    Iota: How indeed? That is a really troubling question. I remember first thinking about that when we lived in Spain, so I must have been 10. And it's been troubling me ever since! I suppose it's never too early for a bit of philosophy!

  6. what a fabulous and pertinent question your daughter asks. And one that most adults dont even bother to think of. Where does it come from and where does it go? Like the rubbish, which my daughter is very interested in (this delights Husband whose job is all about life cycle assessment ). It is important for all of us to think about how we'll answer the questions and also how we'll keep thinking of asking them ourselves. Curiosity is what keeps us alive!

  7. I always loved the Calvin and Hobbes approach to answering such questions; if stumped, lie to your child with as much wild invention as you can muster.

    The child always susses you, but it allows time to research the actual answer.

    Can you tell I don't have children of my own?!

  8. I think due to increasing water pollution everyone should aware of the importance of water treatment. Weather it is on a local level or Industrial level. I think if industries properly handle their waste water, we can solve many water pollution problems. Industrial water treatment consultant should be helpful in this regard.

  9. Mothership: Yes, curiosity is so important, and I'm realising that I'd lost so much of mine. It's really nice to be given a curiosity boost.

    Adam: Calvin & Hobbs does have some brilliant ones in it. I appreciate it a lot more since having child. I do have conflicting feelings about truth versus imagination. Imagination is really important and I had a really good one as a child, which has gradually depleted over the years. But I also feel a bit odd or wrong, if I know I'm glossing over something or even blatantly lying. I do say 'I don't know.' a lot, which is a bit of a cop out.

    Harmon: An interesting bit of SEO there. Normally I'd delete it, but at least it is a little bit relevant, so I shall be generous. Watch out for typos, missing words and homonyms (weather is not the same as whether).