As a little girl, I would always sit behind my Dad on family road trips in our Chevy Astro. The practical reason for this is that my Dad has the longest legs in the family, and I have the shortest. In other words, he could lean his seat back as far as he wanted without bumping into my knees. Granted, as all little girls that have been sitting in a car for more than 15 minutes would do, since his seat was so close to me, I always ended up propping my feet up on his seat. The first ten times I kicked Dad in the back, he would politely ask me to stop. Then I was given an ultimatum. “Jamie, if you don’t stop kicking my back, I’m going to pull this car over and…” You get the picture!
This is not why I loved sitting behind my Dad.
I loved sitting behind my Dad because he never tired of answering my questions. I could ask anything him about anything, and he would be able to comment in some way to further my curiosity.
Jamie “Why is the grass here greener than at home?” Dad “Because they use more fertilizers in the countryside.” “Why do they use fertilizer?” “So that the grass is greener.” “Why do they want the grass to be greener?” “Well, they don’t just want it to be greener, but they want it to grow faster.” “Why does it matter how fast it grows?” “Because these farms actually sell the grass to other people. So if it grows faster, they can cut it more often and make more money.”
“What does that machine over there do?” “It is pumping oil out of the ground.” “Do we have oil in Tennessee?” “Not that I know of.” “How do they know if there is oil in the ground?” “They drill test holes based on studies of the soil, and sometimes they’re lucky.” “Kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies?” “Yep, kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies. But normally you won’t find oil by shooting a gun into the ground. It’s normally much deeper than that.”
“Why is that car painted with yellow and black stripes?” “I think it’s an advertisement for a potato chip company.” “I thought advertisements were on billboards.” “Well, a car is like a moving billboard.” “I never thought of that.”
“Did we just pass Bucktown, Tennessee? Or are we in Alabama? I can’t find it on the map.” “We’re actually in Georgia, so go to that page. Find it?” “Yep, I got it. We’re about 60 miles from the hotel!!!” ...two minutes later… “What did that sign say?” “It said Wondertown.” “Oh, I see that one too. The next town should be Greenville.” …five minutes later… “Did you see Greenville?” “Yep, just passed the exit.” “We’re only 52 miles away now!!!”
“Are we there yet?” “Look on the map.”
(These are not exact quotes of my father’s, but are approximations)
I love asking questions, and I especially love it when my Dad has an answer. Even if it’s not the right answer. Just as long as it makes us both think a little bit more. It was probably not his intention when I was younger, but I think this is why I love traveling to foreign lands. Not that I have seen everything in America…or even in Tennessee for that matter. It’s just that the world outside of America has way more that I don’t understand. There are so many more questions to be asked, and until I see them, I don’t know that they exist. Until I see them, my Dad doesn’t know they exist.
I wish that my Dad could be with me in China. He would be so fascinated by everything, and we would have a blast figuring out why so many things are different than what we’re used to. Now that I’m a little bit older and have a little bit more life experience, I might even be able to answer some of his questions.