Dustin Wright and son, Jeremy
Dustin Wright and son, Jeremy

As I began my journey into the realm of fatherhood, I had received many pieces of advice from well wishers.


"You're going to pay for your raising!"


"You need to learn to enjoy every moment of it while they're little, because it doesn't last long."


"Be sure to buy the type of wall paint where you can just use water to wipe down the crayon marks."


"You're going to really pay for your raising!" (I guess people really didn't see how angelic I was growing up in my youth.)


Through all the advice received over the years, not one person made mention that entering into the post-toddler years that I would be playing what seems to be a never ending game of "20 questions."


Jeremy, being the inquisitive four-year-old he is, has recently began to play this endless game, which often times has me dumbfounded by the end of the day.


Before I get beat up by the critics, yes, I know he's just a little boy wondering about the huge world around him.


But he also has to breathe as well between questions, and that's one of my top concerns.


For those who may need a refresher, the game "20 questions" is typically a spoken parlor game which encourages deductive reasoning and creativity. 


According to the online resource, Wikipedia, it originated in the United States and was played widely in the 19th century. It escalated in popularity during the late 1940s when it became the format for a successful weekly radio quiz program.


In the traditional game, one player is chosen to be the answerer. That would be moi.


According to the rules of the game, the answerer is supposed to choose a subject (or object), but does not reveal this to the other player(s).


I don't have that luxury, as I am the full-time answerer and Jeremy serves as the random topic chooser. No exceptions.


The rules further state the player(s) are to take turns asking the questions, which can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no."


For young Mr. Wright, those answers are unsatisfactory, and leads to the subsequent question of "why?" Which if not fully answered to the young man's liking, will trigger the second questioned response, "but why?"


In variants of the game, multiple state answers may be included such as the answer "maybe." The answer "maybe" is interpreted as a "yes" answer in most cases, but depending on the day, could warrant a "why" or "but why" follow up question or questions.


The rules further state that lying is not allowed in the game.


In the Wright household, lying is punishable by having to sit on the floor with your nose against the wall for a period of time in which the punishing party deems necessary. At times, I have had to sit with my nose against the wall for time periods I thought were equal to a martial law sentence, but please don't tell my young punisher.


Now "stretching the truth" is a tactic I have learned to use in the event of a series of "why" or "but why" questions, especially after a "maybe" response by the answerer (me).


For example:


Jeremy: "Dad, I'm hungry. Can we go to (insert expensive restaurant or McDonald's answer here)?"


Me: "Maybe. It depends on what all Daddy has going today, how much money is in the bank, and what my horoscope says."


Jeremy: "Please!?"


Me: "Maybe. We will see."


Jeremy: "Why?"


Me: "Because, we will just have to see how everything goes today. Deal?"


Jeremy: "But why?"


Me: "Like I said, Buddy, we will just have to see how busy today is."


Jeremy: "But why?"


Me: (eyes begin to twitch as my brain struggles to find non-lying excuses to satisfy an answer).


Our version of 20 questions tends to have different variances and topics (ranging from how come Batman doesn't fly to how come the wind blows), but no matter the outcome, most answers don't satisfy the responses wanted by Mr. Wright.


Jeremy: "Dad, what day is it?"


Me: "Tuesday."


Jeremy: "When's it going to be Saturday?"


Me: "In a couple of days."


Jeremy: "It that a long time?"


Me: "Well, lets see (as I begin to count days on my fingers). There's Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. So, in five days."


Jeremy: "That's a long time (followed by a sad look)."


Me: "What's on Saturday? (in an attempt to reverse the 20 questions back into my possession.)


Jeremy: "Well, you're going to take me to see the (new child movie out in theatres) and then you're going to take me to go get a toy (at retail store, typically known as Walmart), and then you're going to take me to (insert expensive restaurant or McDonald's answer here).


Me: (disgusted with the fact my chance of reversing the game backfired) "No. We aren't going to do that."


Jeremy: "Please, Dad?"


Me: (in an attempt to calm the situation in hopes he forgets over a short period of time). "Maybe, we will see."


Jeremy: "Why?"


Me: "Because, we will just have to see how everything. Deal?"


Jeremy: "But why?"


Me: "Like I said, Buddy, we will just have to see how it goes."


Jeremy: "But why?"


Me: (eyes begin to twitch as my brain struggles to find non-lying excuses to satisfy an answer).


I don't like playing 20 questions, for the record, but I will lie about that to satisfy the curious mind of my growing four-year-old.


But, please don't tell him I am lying. I don't want to have to sit in timeout with my nose against the wall, again.