It was one of those days I knew would arrive.
I didn’t know it would arrive so soon. But I’ve been thinking about this for a long, long time. Even before I knew I was going to be a dad. Because I think it’s very cool. It’s a right of passage. It demonstrates intellect. It demonstrates concern about the world around us. It stimulates interaction, the opportunity to share wisdom on anything but algebra.
I’m talking about the “why” phase.
Monday morning, out of the blue, Ella wakes up and starts asking, “why?”
She’s never uttered the word before. We’ve gotten a lot of “huhs,” which we discourage, when we remember to. But no real exhibition of wanting to understand.
What? I’m clueless? My kid doesn’t really want to know why? She’s just saying the word?
Where could she have picked this up? She doesn’t go to daycare. She doesn’t watch TV.
I’ve been practicing my explanations — why the moon looks different every night, why the sun always follows us around all day, whywater is wet, why we wear shoes, why frogs hop.
I admit, I wasn’t prepared for why dinner is ready, or why the waitress walked away to retrieve the milk that the kid asked for 10 seconds earlier. Or why I just explained why the frog hopped, the sun is so big and the moon has phases. Or, why my answer was because. Because. Because!
But, really, I think she wants to know why. Why else would she discover this word and put it into linguistic rotation … so freaking often? Why? Why?
In “The Shining,” before Jack Nicholson went psycho, was his kid asking “why?”
Does Elmo say “why” in his “going to bed” video? Excuse me while I … stomp … the … DVD.
My theory is to provide very lenghty, detailed explanations, and she’ll either pick up some of the information, or she’ll get bored and start asking her mother why.
For example, this morning, it was “why?” do I have to go to work.
“Because we need to eat and live in something not made of cardboard, and when I go to the office and do things all day for somebody else, whether I like it or I would rather be stapling my fingernails, whether I make progress or spend the day checking the weather in the top 50 cities, alphabetically by population, they give me money, as long as they don’t find out that I’m watching YouTube and reading Sports Illustrated.”
And it worked. I got, “No. Mommy.”
“You want Mommy to go to work?
“Well, she can’t.”
“Because somebody needs to stay home with you and feed you and make sure you wear your diaper outside and play with you because we love you very much and …”
and I walked out the door before she could say “why.”
See? It works!