During the Spanish Inquisition, a heartless band of men known for their ability to drive victims to madness through endless questioning and torture were known as the Inquisitors. They could twist the minutest details out of the strongest men, often earning confessions from those who hadn't done anything wrong but who would rather face death and damnation than be subject to further questioning by the Inquisitors.

Sadly, these Inquisitors could learn a few things from my three-year-old daughter.

Already she practices a polished version of the most effective information gathering techniques known to man. Her methods, while often endearing in their apparent naiveté, are designed to enrage or infuriate even the most patient souls and to subsequently drive the Inquisitee into a state of madness more akin to Nero's fiddle playing indifference to Rome burning than to the usual nuttiness of a tired parent. I call it, "The Smartypants Inquisition."

And her timing is unparalleled. If I have nothing to occupy me, if I’m playing with the girls or sitting quietly while they play together, she has no use for me. The moment I pick up a book, or I sit at my computer, or I make a telephone call, the questions erupt and pummel me into a state of confused, astounded hysteria.

To be honest, I can’t even recall the questions well enough to provide examples. They usually lack intellectual thought. They certainly aren’t philosophical by nature. They are questions pertaining to the simple world around her, questions asked as much from habit as from a desire to learn or understand. Sometimes they’re humorous, always numerous. One answer undoubtedly leads to another question, until a progression of increasingly more ridiculous queries spurts out of her lips faster than she can stop herself.

If she would pause, she’d realize either a) she already knows the answer, or b) she's asking a senseless question. And then she’d laugh and tell me all about how silly the question was.

Of course, we can’t get angry at the questions. Curiosity is a phenomenal thing that must be encouraged. Sadly, our children will acquire knowledge only at OUR expense. For as they get smarter, surely we grow more insane. And like the wrongly accused victims of the Inquisition, we are at the mercy of the Inquisitors, subject to the tortuous ways of our little dictators.

Such is life. Yet somehow, we enjoy it.


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