Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
I used to drive my high school chemistry nuts. “You always want to know why,” he would say. “I could give you the chemical equation for water, and you’d want to know why.”
I had no clue at the time why that was so annoying. But now that I’m living with a human question mark, I understand.
I’m glad Big Guy is curious. Really, I am. I just wish life were more like those government press conferences, where reporters have a few minutes at the end to get in their questions and that’s it. And only one question per person, please.
I used to think all his questions were asked with the sole goal of driving me mad. But then I began to notice patterns and purpose behind the rapid-fire barrage of “why?” He’s not trying to make my head explode! He’s trying to accomplish something.
Sometimes, I'm still convinced he’s just trying to make me nuts. Most of the rest of the time, though, his questions fall mainly in six categories: the grouse, the quaintly curious, the show off, the stumpers, the “where did that come from” and the epiphany.
The grouse: “Why do I have to go to bed?” “Why do I have to brush my teeth?” “Why do I have to take my medicine?” I try answering for a while, but then give up – it’s really not true that there’s no such thing as a stupid question – and default to things people swear they’ll never say when they’re parents. “Because I’m the mom, and I said so.”
The quaintly curious: These questions remind you of how differently these tiny eyes see things and make you giggle at the fresh perspective. “Why isn’t the moon cut?” he asked one night as he looked at the full moon. When you think about it, the moon is “cut” on more nights than not, so I can see how a full moon would look strange.
The show off: This is when he uses a question to prove he had – shock, shock! – actually absorbed something I’d said. The back story on these, of course, always starts with a question.
One day, he was looking at family pictures and wanted to know why Daddy and Mommy were dressed funny. Those were from our wedding, I said. “Was I there?” he asked. “No, you weren’t born yet. Mommy and Daddy got married and then you and Little Guy came.”
A few weeks later, birds were building a nest on our patio. “What are they doing?” he asked. “They’re building a home so their babies will have somewhere to live,” I said. “Is the wedding over?” he asked.
The stumpers: When he has a question I can’t answer, I usually say, “I don’t know, but let’s find out.” And we’ll hit a computer or reference book and try to track down an answer. But one day, he had me cold. “Mommy, what’s Thomas’ last name?” I could have googled my butt off and not come up with an answer for that one. “I have no idea, son.”
The “where did that come from”: Does God have feet?” It took me about a week to figure out why he wanted to know. Turns out he was worried that if God fell out of the sky up in heaven, he’d “get owies on him” if he didn’t have feet to help him land.
The epiphany: We’d watched “Toy Story 2” roughly 3,472 times before, and he’d always taken at face value the scene where Buzz Lightyear and company steal the pizza man’s truck and drive it to the airport to rescue Woody. The 3,473rd time we watched it, though, he asked, “Mom, why didn’t they just ride a bus?”
Not bad critical-thinking skills for one not yet 4. The kid’s gonna be all right. Annoying as heck in his high school chemistry class, but all right.
Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.