How many of you have been told: “curiosity killed the cat”? Or maybe what I should say is, how many of you have been told “curiosity killed the cat” by someone in authority who was just trying to get you to stop talking? I have to admit, I do not recall having ever been told that with any level of seriousness and that may be why I’ve had a very strange fascination with the phrase over the course of my life. It wasn’t until adulthood that I heard the second half of that old adage, “and satisfaction brought it back.”
Although my knowledge of the origination of the phrase, particularly as a tool for quieting curious children, is extremely limited (okay, it doesn’t really exist at all) I have to wonder why adults specifically have the desire to quiet curiosity. Is it because we lack the humility to admit when we don’t know something? Is it, especially when it comes to children, a reflection of the true exhaustion that can come from answering some version of “but why” three million times a day?
I don’t know the answer, maybe it’s both. I will admit that for me, it is most strongly the latter.
Then I think about one of my uncles, Andrew, who told me in a conversation we had about seven years ago that being a parent to teenagers had been his favorite thing so far because he could now have full conversations with his kids. At that time, he and my aunt Lynne had seven children aged 14 and under, so I consider him to be something of an expert.
Building off of that, we can’t have those full conversations that help us and the people in our lives to be better if we silence curiosity. Having a lack of knowledge die is a good thing when we can be reborn from the ashes of our ignorance into more understanding, knowledgeable, and tolerant people.