Have good character
Now, with the kids ate ages 8, 7, 5 and 1, I can say that we're always working on character, but they are certainly curious and creative. Sometimes in good ways, and sometimes in ways that are mischievous. I love when someone takes out the bag of old boxes and bottles to make doll furniture. I don't love when someone uses it to make an implement of torture for a sibling's doll.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to read. I worried during my entire adolescence that my reading time would disappear when I had kids, because people routinely said, "Oh, you love to read? Do it now, because you'll never be able to when you have kids in the house." Then I had a baby, and found that he loved listening to whatever I read, no matter the topic. Wordsworth poems, Jan Karon novels, L.M. Montgomery's journals -- it was all interesting to him. He grew, and I still had naptimes and evenings for reading! So I still read a lot.
When I was first pregnant, I read many parenting books. One theme that kept coming up was curiosity. It made sense that curious people go far in life. They think about things, evaluate them, and search for information. Curious people want to make good decisions, and don't let life just carry them along in the flow of events. I thought that having curious kids would be wonderful. I imagined bright-eyed, intelligent children asking questions about nature and relationships and books, speaking one at a time in coherent sentences. I saw us having intelligent discussions about important topics at dinnertime.
Nowadays, when I'm driving with the kids in the car, three voices shout out questions at the same time, usually yelling to be heard over the others. These questions are about deep topics such as why stuffed animals are soft but dolls are hard, why God made our noses have boogers if we're not allowed to pick them, why we have to have different names. To the latter, I responded, "We have to tell people apart, and if we all had the same name it would be confusing." My 5-year-old replied, "Why?" I elaborated, then got the same response. And it continued on and on until I said (with plenty of annoyance in my voice), "We just DO, okay?!" Then the other two questions had to be answered, and more were asked while I answered them. My mind was asked to jump from biology to movies to food to physics.
Before I had kids, I considered myself very patient. I checked it off in self-inventories in college psych classes. But times like these make me see that my patience has a very definite end, and it's not nearly as far reaching as I believed. I say, "Because that's how it is," many times a day. The curiosity books say that answer stunts healthy curiosity, and parents shouldn't say it. I think that maybe those books should warn about this side of having curious kids. You should have a PhD in many subjects, possess a brain that rapidly recalls all the information you've ever learned, and as much patience as Jesus Himself.
Kids always have the most questions when I'm driving them alone, and also when I'm following a recipe. If I'm riding and Chris is driving, I'm fully present and can give my attention to their questions, but they don't have many then. When I stop a question to say, "I'm measuring and I can't lose count now," I find myself saying "Wait, did I do three cups or four last?" a few seconds later. But when we're all sitting down for a lesson on the Roman Empire, they have very few questions. We go to a museum, and the guide asks, "Any questions?" My kids silently stare at her. I wonder, Did I spark curiosity in the wrong way? It's all about Mo Willems characters and why bracelets are round, but not at all about science or history?
I suppose that this is making me a more patient person, something I needed to grow in after all. It's also making me smarter, because I have to look up answers about a vast array of topics every single day. And I tend to forget the information within hours, so when the same thing is asked again, I look it up again. My kids are wonderful at asking the same things many times. Someday I might remember lots of things, after seeing the explanations over and over!