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Tell Me Why…

“My tummy hurts.” “Show me where. Point.”
“Right here!”
“That’s not your tummy, it’s your chest.”
“Why?”

“Look how pretty the sky is! The sun’s going down.”
“Why?”  “So it can be dark out for bedtime.” “Why?”

“Can i have a juicebox?”  “No, you already had one.”  “Why????”

“Um…why did you already have one? Or why can’t you have another one?”

*&$^#@&*#!!!! I always thought people were joking about the “why’s,” but we’ve got ‘em at our house, BIG time. And i don’t think antibiotics will help. It is chronic, and a little bit hilarious, if maddening in turns…

Part of why it is so maddening is the way she almost chirps it–like she knows it is driving us bananas, and wants to see just how many times she can get an answer before we try to change the subject. She’s little and cute but don’t be deceived…it’s a power struggle.

Another reason that it’s maddening is my own fault–i have made a pact with myself to reserve “because i said so” for very rare occasions. Like when it involves running out in front of cars, or the bringing home of boys who do not look the parents in the eye when spoken to, do not respect curfew, and do not bathe. (You’ll notice i didn’t mention tattoos and piercings. Those things don’t bother me so much. The not looking the folks in the eye, however…that will be my “because i said so” moment.) In short, i am saving it for something big.

Also, I want the tendency to ask questions to be rewarded with some semblance of an answer. Even if it’s a lame one. I want the kids to feel they are heard, that curiosity is valued, and that when you want to learn more about something, all you have to do is ask.

Sometimes though, I turn it around. “Why can’t we have more candy?” “Um, why can’t YOU quit sucking your thumb?”  [silence...] Chalk one up for mom.

Sometimes I do the asking. Sometimes it’s to shut down the conflict. But it’s also to teach that not every question has an answer. Sometimes the mystery is the thing, and that’s ok too. On the sunset question, my husband (who is not the professional theologian in our house) finally said “because God made it that way.” To my mind, that’s not much more satisfying than “because i said so…” But in that case, it was the dern truth, and it worked for her. We got at least 30 seconds of just enjoying the view, free of why-ing.

[Shrieking] No, I don’t want a ponytail!!!!!”  And Mom says, “Why?”  More silence. Subject changed. Mom-1; Kid; 45. That will do for now.

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About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • Bridget

    Correct answer to “why” that stops the endless questioning and respects the child’s desire for info: “Because those are the physical parameters of the world in which we live.”
    “Oh. Okay,” he then replies.

    • http://www.azfoothillscc.org irreverins

      that particular answer usually works to shut me up too ;)

  • Sandra Weed

    Ha, ha! I’m really laughing!! you know you’ll lose with a very lopsided score. It does eventually end. (in a year or so?)

  • http://www.propheticprogress.blogspot.com JimII

    Isn’t the “why” just a way to keep conversation going? I’ve been tremendously blessed with teenagers who generally still want to talk with me. Although, Kate is starting to resist. And there have certainly been times when they were uninterested in interaction with us. If you hear, why?, as, Mom, will you talk with me some more?, would that make it less annoying?

    • http://www.azfoothillscc.org irreverins

      Actually, that is how i hear it… and that’s why i make a point to answer more thoroughly than “because i said so.” The hope is to keep them talking to me, so that they’ll still be talking to me–at least a little bit!–when they get older and “why” gets more comlex. Glad your big kids still talk to you!


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