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The Question Box

by Julie Arduini  
9/21/2007 / Family

As soon as Darci started talking, we nicknamed her "the question box." Her questions came like gunfire and I believe I only survived the preschool years because my mom prayed me through. There was no topic off limits to Darci.

"Can I stay up all night?"

"Do raccoons have bad breath?"

"Mama, do all mommies have stretchy marks when they're naked like you?"

Those gems came to me her early elementary years. As Darci learned to read and write, she came home from art class one day with a decorated shoe box. When her dad asked what it was, she thrust the box forward into his hands. Pink foam question marks stuck to his thumb.

"It's a question box daddy. When we have questions we write them out and put them in. Mr. Stewart said that once a week we could talk about the questions. Whaddya think?"

Bob shrugged. We promised each other when we married we'd always be available to our kids, especially if they had questions. We embraced Darci's enthusiasm as brightly as her decorated box.

As the question box dominated our coffee table, Bob and I realized the questions were relentless. Life experience gave her a lot to ponder. As she struggled through middle school, the question box was overflowing each week.

'What made you think I wanted a baby brother?'

'Why are people so mean? I don't get it. I never would've said the mean things to Jen she said to me."

'Am I pretty? I don't think I am.'

'Do I really need algebra? I'm going to be a reporter. Who needs math when they plan to be on television? I'm confused.'

By high school the question box was wilted and faded. Darci still had questions, but she saved most of them for her diary. We were blessed to get more chat from her than most parents with their kids, but I actually missed those pre school days. One day the box was gone, moved to her closet. She proudly replaced the area with her prom picture.

It was that season that it felt like most questions came from us. We wondered what happened to our little girl. Pigtails transformed to a bouncy chic haircut that set her back $100 from her first job at McDonalds. She was researching colleges and constantly on the phone with her friends. I tried not to let it show, but I felt lost in the shuffle. Didn't she need us? Would we ever matter again?

The night before graduation Darci was at the kitchen table with the question box. I could tell she'd been crying but I waited for her to share. She was opening up questions from years gone by.

"You and dad always gave me answers when I asked. When did you have all the answers? Was it college? When you got married? Had me? Jake?"

Her ocean blue eyes sparkled, even in her confusion and fear. I took her by the chin and smiled.

"Baby, we still don't have all the answers. We just ask God for wisdom every day. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes well; we get papers in the question box asking us how we could be so unfair. You'll be fine."

Tears trickled down her tanned cheeks, her blond hair sticking to her face. One of the foam question marks stuck to her cheeks.

Two months later, the question box landed in a dorm two hundred miles away. I had so many questions of my own I wanted to submit, but instead I left an answer. I gave her my Bible with Proverbs 3:3-5 highlighted. Bob had to pull over twice just to let me sob from the heartbreak of letting go. By the end of Darcy's third week, she sent a fat envelope full of questions.

'Will I ever adjust? I feel so alone.'

'How will I know when boys are real? They seem so full of it here.'

Every week I received an envelope with the return address marked from The Question Box. The day before college graduation she called.

"Mom? I have a question."

"I'm listening."

"Will you start watching channel 13 instead of 8? I'm the new weekend anchor. They plan to move me to an investigative reporter position during the week if I ask enough questions and get to the bottom of every story. You know, I think I can do it."

I didn't have any question. Neither did The Question Box.

Julie Arduini,, is devoted to writing for Christ in ways that encourage and inspire. A graduate of the Christian Writer's Guild, her writing resume is on her blog's sidebar. Happily married to Tom, they have two children.

@2009 by Julie Arduini

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