The family was in the car the other day as we drove up to the snow in Big Bear after Christmas. My third grader was asking one question after another about where we were going to stay, what we were going to do, what we going to eat, etc., without ever stopping for answer. Finally I turned and asked him, “Luke, why do you think there’s a question mark after a question?”
Luke was surprised. “I don’t know, why?”
I drew a big question mark on the frosty window pane. “Does that look like something familiar to you?” I asked, as I pulled on my ear as a clue.
“Oh! Why is it an ear?”
“To remind you to stop after you ask a question and use your ears to listen to the answer!” I replied. In fact in classical Chinese, the character for “listen” includes the radical meaning “ear” followed by the radical for “heart,” meaning you listen with both your ears and your heart.
“Oh!” said Luke, the light dawning. He was quiet for a minute, but then it was business as usual. ” So when do we get there, Mom?”
I’m not sure what impact my point made with Luke, but I thought the one it might help the most is actually Peter. Since Peter is so visual, and depends upon written words heavily to communicate, I’m going to turn the question mark into a social prompt for him. I’ll explain to him how the top hook is an ear to remind him to listen after posing his question. I’ll explain the bottom dot is an eye to remind him to look. Then, whenever he asks a question and starts walking away before getting a response, I’m going to start pointing to the question mark at the end to remind him to stop, listen, and look.