why

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My son is in the why phase.
We’ve been here a while actually.
And most of the time it makes me want to pull my hair out.
I try to give him answers when I can.
Because I think all that asking is part of how he learns.
He is a sponge soaking up every little piece of information that he can.
Even if I think it isn’t important or doesn’t matter.
He wants to know.
The conversations are frustrating because we always get to a point where I don’t know or am exhausted of talking in circles.
And cave in and say just because.
Which oddly enough satisfies him, at least until he thinks of his next question.

If you have never lived with a 4-5 year old something as simple as cooking hamburger meat involves at least a dozen whys.
“Why are you cooking the meat”
So we can eat it?
Why?
Because I am hungry and thought you might want dinner?
But Why?
So we can grow and have energy?
Why?
Because your cells need energy from food to do work?
Why?
…I contemplate talking teaching him about ATP and cellular respiration and the Krebs cycle but decide this conversation can wait a good ten years. Or maybe forever.
So I just say because.
And he says hmmm…and pauses for a second.
I think I am safe and go back to stirring the meat.

And then he pipes back up,
But why do you have to cook it?
So you don’t get sick and it will probably taste better that way.
Why?
Because little bacteria live in the meat and when we get it hot enough it kills them.
Why?
Well because the heat kills all the salmonella?
What’s sam-vanilla?
I was so thankful not to hear a why question….that I almost taught him everything I know about microbiology right then.
Instead, I suggested he go into the living room and watch cartoons while I finished dinner.
Why?
So you survive to be six.
Why?
Because. A little too loudly and firmly. And he happily shuffled into the other room for some Dragon Tails.
This happens dozens of times a day and drives me crazy.

Recently someone asked me a question about something a wrote and it boiled down to some fundamental thing that I had been taught. For like ever.
And for the first time since I was probably five. I asked why.
These days I rarely ask why.
If I am a sponge I am full.
But maybe the things I am full of are starting to stink.

So I asked why I felt that way.
Which made me do some research.
Which led to more questions.
A lot of wheres and whats and lots more whys.
And my friends aren’t sure what to do when I call them before 9am and start laying out some heavy theology.
My husband threatened to send me to seminary.
Another referred me to her husband.
Another played devil’s advocate.
Which were all good responses.
But my favorite response was a fresh pot of coffee. A big tall mug.
And the freedom to ask a lot of whys.
And she didn’t pull her hair out once.

And guess what.
We never even answered the initial question.
But I left her house a little more resolved and refreshed and full.
Like a sponge.

3 comments:

Stacia said...

All the whys are so tough. And then I imagine what it must feel like to have the whole world out there waiting to be examined and understood, and I have a teeny bit more patience ... for an hour or two anyway. =>

Amber said...

Why. The question that is so important, so heavy, and, sometimes, so irritating. I remember so many of my siblings entering into that stage and the incessant questions. I think I learned to distract them with something like reading a book or dancing. I don't know what I'll do with my kids when they get that way.

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

I get lots of why questions....great post