We had time to kill in the car this past weekend during a recent road trip so my son suggested we play the 20 questions game. In this game a person thinks of someone and doesn’t tell the other person who they are thinking of and the other person(s) tries to guess who that person is thinking of by asking questions that are answered with either ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I love and hate this game simultaneously (love because I like games but hate because if I don’t guess the person in a reasonable amount of time I find the game to be very annoying.) Keep in mind playing with my 6-years-old adds complexity to the game because I need to factor in that some of the answers he is providing me may not be accurate. Reluctantly I agreed to play. My son informs me he is thinking of someone.
“Is it a girl?” I ask, since we’ve just come from one of his girl friend’s birthday party. “No,” he replies.
“Is it a man?” I ask. “Yes,” he replies.
“Does he live in San Luis Obispo?” I ask, thinking it may be his girl friend’s father. “No.” he replies.
“Does he live in California?” I ask, thinking that will at least narrow down how I might know this man. “Yes,” my son replies. (Now a red flag should have come up for me when asking this question since I know that often my son confuses California with the greater USA; however, I mistakenly assume my son’s answer is accurate and I go on.)
“Does he live in our neighborhood?” I ask. “No,” he says.
“Does he have kids?” I ask. “No,” he says. What man without kids would my son be thinking of? Any California relatives on Scott’s side of the family that would be on our son’s mind would have kids. I need to take a new angle to figure this out.
“Does he work with Daddy?” I ask, taking a different tact and trying to figure out the connection of how I possibly know this man. “No,” he says.
“Is he friends with Daddy?” I ask. “He’s friends with ALL THREE of us,” he says (breaking the ‘yes/no’ answer rule.) This throws me for a loop. Now I am really confused.
A man, living in California, that doesn’t live in our neighborhood, doesn’t have kids, or work with Daddy, and is friends with all three of us… who is this man? I rack my brain for possible people repeating everything my son has confirmed about this man out loud a few times. Annoyed, I ask help from Scott who’s been listening the whole time from the driver’s seat. “Do you know of anyone that meets that description Scott, someone without kids?”
“Well he did HAVE a baby,” pipes up our son from the back seat, in which I respond, “Wait, you told me he didn’t have kids!” I’m feeling really annoyed now thinking how could he possibly get the answer to that question incorrect? I wonder if there are other questions he might have answered incorrectly as well. I’m processing this new contradictory statement in my head: he doesn’t have kids but he did have a baby. Did this man’s baby die? Before I could ask anything more, I hear Scott ask, “Is it John?” in which our son shouts triumphantly, “Yes!”
I’m dumbfounded. What? “Really?” I say. John, our son’s birthfather? Other than pictures we show our son we haven’t seen or talked with John in two years! I go over his description again: A man, that doesn’t live in our neighborhood, doesn’t have kids, or work with Daddy, and is friends with all three of us. He doesn’t have kids but had a baby. Of course! It all makes perfect sense now. Brilliant – minus of course the glaring geographical error of saying that he lives in California when he actually lives in New York!
It stuck me later how interesting the incident was because out of nowhere our son surprised us again by thinking of his birth parent at a time when we weren’t expecting it. He also showed us how unconfused and secure he is about his birth story which was evident through the answers he gave to simple questions about his birthfather which essentially described him perfectly: a man who doesn’t have kids, who had a baby, who is friends with all three of us.