Ah, the Land of Why. We’ve lived here for quite a while. Gabi has been asking why for the last year now. If you’re just joining us here in the Land of Why, I’d like to offer my sincerest welcome. It can be tough living here, what with all the why-questions.
Here’s how a typical car-ride home from school goes in our family:
Me: Hey Gabi, check out that cool blue truck!
Me: Why what?
Gabi: Why is that a truck?
Me: …um… (and here I’m wondering, okay, why actually is it a truck? How do you even answer that?) … Well, it’s got four tires and a place in the back to put stuff.
Me: Well, I guess the person driving needed to carry big stuff that wouldn’t fit in a car.
Gabi: But why Mama?
Sometimes I have to remind myself that she’s not asking to be annoying. She’s little and she genuinely wants to understand the world around her. She’s so bright and inquisitive! That curiosity and wonder is so magical and beautiful!
Because of this, I try really hard to avoid giving her flippant answers like, “Because I said so, that’s why,” and I also try really hard to be patient with the questioning. I want to give her legitimate answers to her questions, but she asks me questions that are really hard. My dad and I used to have similar conversations and he would always do his best to answer as correctly as possible.
Why is that a dog? Because it’s mama and papa were dogs.
Why is the sky blue? Because the sunlight reflects off of our atmosphere and the color appears to be blue.
Why is this our neighborhood? Because this is where they built our house.
Why did they build our house here? Because there was an empty space here and the builder thought it would make a nice place for a family to live.
Why is that a man? Because of DNA. DNA is what tells our body how to grow. They make your hair curly, your skin that sort of beige color, and your body a girl’s body. Everyone has DNA. DNA made that mans hair black and made his body the body of a man.
Sometimes it’s hard not to get snappy about the constant WHY WHY WHY. After thinking about it, I wonder if some of the adult impatience with why questions is because we aren’t completely sure and that makes us feel a little bit inadequate. I’ve had to find within myself the ability to say, “You know, sweetie, I just don’t know the answer to that question.” (But WHY Mama? Well, because Mama doesn’t know everything in the world. I’m still learning, too. But we can go home and look it up on the computer.)
It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” I think that showing our kids that we sometimes have to ask questions, too, helps them to have the confidence to keep asking and keep learning. Asking never stops. Learning never ends. So when you feel like you’ve had it up to here with the why questions, breathe deep (like Cindy suggested in her post Emotion Coaching, part 2), and just answer the question to the best of your ability.
What kinds of why questions do you find yourself stumped on?