“Mom, when will the timer beep?”

Yes! I know the answer to this! I know the answer!

“In exactly 7 minutes and 43…now 42 seconds,” I answered in reassuring tones.

My four year old was tapping his toe, waiting for his cookies to come out of the oven. I was looking forward to the cookies too, but even more thrilled to have an exact, straight forward, can’t-argue-with-the-facts kind of answer to one of my children’s endless stream of questions.

Who knew there was so much I didn’t know? Aren’t mothers supposed to be bottomless wells of knowledge and information? Lately I feel like one of those poor, poor Jeopardy contestants who can never seem to click on that darn buzzer first or even at all. For example, just this week I was asked:

When will we finally get our soccer uniforms? I don’t know yet.

Why hasn’t she called? I’m not sure.

How do they make baby carrots? Hmmm, I’d have to look it up.

What’s taking so long? Beats me.

How does the internet work? No idea.

What’s your favorite movie of all time? Can it be in black and white? Well why not? Then I don’t know.

Can you fix my bike? I don’t know how. You’ll have to wait for Dad.

How could you forget about that party? How?! I’m so sorry! I don’t know!

What should I be for Halloween? Are we supposed to be thinking about that already? Golly, I dunno.

Will Dad bring us back presents? I’m sure I don’t know.

What’s for dinner? Can I get back to you on that?

Sometimes I wish I could say, “I’m sorry kids,” in my most Alex Trebeck-y condescending manner, “the correct answer to all of the above is, Things your mother doesn’t know. That’s right, Things your mother. Doesn’t. Know. Now, who’s ready for the Daily Double?

So when a four year old asks me, When will the timer beep? well, I get pretty pumped to exude an air of confidence for once. After all, I do know how to count backwards (I went to college) and digital timers are an exact science. Seven minutes and forty three seconds my darling! Won’t be long now! (Okay, I’ll admit I would’ve been stumped if I had used an hour glass to time the cookies instead.)

Daily, I’m peppered with questions for which I always seem to come up short. And I’m not even talking about the esoteric, existential ones like, “Why don’t animals get married?” “Why does the moon follow me?” and “Why can’t everything only cost a penny?” I’m talking about things I should know the answers to or at least be able to look up on the spot from my smart phone.

I’ve thought about it and here’s what I should’ve answered this week:

Why don’t you call the soccer office right now

Because she’s either too busy or she forgot

I’m sure there’s a Youtube video about it. Let’s Google it.

Unexpected delays

By utilizing satellites and ether and lasers. Let’s look it up.

“It’s a Wonderful Life.” They made a colorized version a few years back.

Why don’t you ride your scooter until Dad gets home.

Sometimes mothers just forget things. Do you ever forget things too?

Something cool. I think we have a book with lots of ideas.

Whether he does or doesn’t, having him home is the best present of all.

Who’s up for pizza?

And with a little more homework, maybe I could even try to explain about lunar optical illusions and economic inflation rates. Alright, a lot more homework.

But I do take great comfort in knowing that I have the answers to life’s truly important questions like, “How much do you love me?”  “Why did I get born into this family?” “Does God hear my prayers?”  “Who can I trust?” “Is Jesus real?” even “What should we bake for dessert tonight?”

You’ll never hear me stammering or groping for a response to questions like those. Those are, as Mr. Trebeck would say, Things your mother knows. That’s, Things your mother. Knows.

Now. Who wants a cookie? The timer beeped.


Margaret Anderson graduated from BYU, served a mission to Mexico City, married the man of her dreams and gets to be the mom to five wonderful small children. You can read more at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com