And the number of questions they can ask along the way is staggering.
Here are just a few of the queries I heard this afternoon as we walked maybe half a mile from our apartment on the Upper West Side to Riverside Park for the West Side Country Fair (no, that's not an ironic name for the fest, though it certainly should be. The only thing 'country' about this fair are the bags of apples for sale.)
As we cross the street, heading west...
"Mom, remember when that taxi hit the subway station?"
Yes, I remember. It was two weeks ago.
"Why did that happen anyway?"
"Look, isn't that Max from camp? Didn't he always have stinky breath? Is that Max's mom? Why do you think her sunglasses are so big?"
As we pass the diner...
"Does that dinner have blueberry pancakes?"
I'm sure they do.
But are they, you know, really good blueberry pancakes? The kind we like?
"Do you think they give whipped cream on pancakes?"
Again, dunno. It's not "our" diner. As we cross the street again, making our way into Riverside Park...
"Who's that lady again?"
Eleanor Roosevelt. They ask about the statue every time we pass it, which is pretty darn often.
"What was she famous for?"
A very smart, unusual woman who had great ideas about how people should treat each other and help each other.
"Is she dead?"
"Why did she die?"
She was old.
"Was she the most famous person then? Or was that blind and deaf woman more famous?"
You mean Helen Keller? I don't know who was more famous; they were different kinds of people, but both brought a lot to the world.
"But which of them were more famous?"
Walking down the hill to the Hudson River waterfront, past the dog run...
"Why is that dog pooping there? Doesn't the owner know that dogs aren't supposed to poop on the grass?"
Yes. He's cleaning it up.
"Can we go into the doggy park and play with the dogs? They're so cute. Why do they need their own park?"
No, we can't go into the dog park because we don't have a dog. Dogs have their own place to play so they don't poop all over the park.
"Can we get a dog? Just a little one?"
Discussion of what kind of dog/cat/lizard/frog/fish/snake might make a suitable pet continues as we walk down the hill, with the kids asking every five seconds what kind of pet I might okay in the near future. ("A rabbit, Mom, can we have a rabbit?"
Standing and looking into the waters of the Hudson River...
"What would happen if we fell in?"
I'd jump in after you.
"But what if this fence broke and we were almost going to fall in?"
I'd grab you.
"What if you couldn't reach us?"
Remember the jumping in part? I'd do that.
'Why are there big logs in the water?"
Dunno, dunno. Becoming my mantra.
"Why does this river have waves? Rivers aren't supposed to have waves, are they?"
Because it's a tidal river and tidal rivers have waves. I might be making part of this up.
"Is it deep?"
"Is it over your head?"
"Is it over your head like ten times?"
"But why don't you know?"
This is when I propose the idea of ice cream sandwiches for the boys.
And a cold adult drink for Mommy.