When journalist Wendell Jamieson's son Dean was 4 years old, he turned to his dad and asked, "What would hurt more—getting run over by a car or getting stung by a jellyfish?" The question spurred Wendell to find the answer not only to his own son's countless inquiries, but also to quirky questions asked by kids across the country. Gayle talks with Wendell about his findings, which he recounts in his new book Father Knows Less Or: "Can I Cook My Sister?": One Dad's Quest to Answer His Son's Most Baffling Questions.
Wendell says the idea for the book began because, as all parents know, children are naturally inquisitive and ask questions that are both funny and touching at the same time. Initially, Wendell says he began his research by collecting questions from his son as well as the children of friends and colleagues. Next, he set up a website so that kids from various backgrounds could share their input. "I wanted questions that showed the breadth of experience that children have," he says.
Then, Wendell set about the arduous task of finding factually accurate answers to all the questions. He says he took great pains to find answers from people who actually lived the answer. For instance, he asked a stab victim what it feels like to get stabbed—one of the stickier questions asked by a child. "Kids are just much more out there with that curiosity, and it's a curiosity that has no filter," he says. "They just want to know the answer."
One question led Wendell to write a letter to celebrity Yoko Ono, who was married to the late English musician John Lennon—why did the Beatles break up? Yoko replied: "Because they all grew up and wanted to do their own thing—and then they did." Wendell says he was encouraged by the positive response from grown-ups, including Yoko, to provide answers. "I was thrilled…another moment where I said, 'I guess I'm on to something!'"