Ever been in charge of a toddler?
If you have you will be used to the one questioning word they use. Incessently.
There's no qualification to that. No suffix. No 'Why do I have to?', 'Why must that happen?'
It's just. 'Why?'
They could of course use other words. 'What?' of 'When?' or 'How?' But they don't. None of those fit the bill. All of them have a range of outcomes that are too narrow. None of them have the all encompassing nature of 'Why?'
Much of the time it's not used as a question. It's a generic response, part querying the way the world around them works. Part showing that they have heard what you have said. Part instinctive. Instead of having to deal with the decision making process needed to answer 'yes' or 'no', your toddler answers 'why?'.
The really sad thing is that I feel compelled to answer the question. Even when it's used as a response, a simple affirmation our daughter has heard me.
This leads to some pretty bizarre conversations. Conversations that continue to a sometimes logical, more often illogical, conclusion.
Try this one from when our little girl was two.
We're in the bathroom. I'm trying to get our daughter to brush her teeth.
"Brush your teeth please." I say.
"Because you need to clean them."
"Well, if you don't they'll be dirty and your teeth might begin to hurt."
"Because the food gets stuck in-between your teeth and causes the enamel to break down"
"Umm, because the food creates plaque, which is acidic"
I'm beginning to reach the extent of my dental knowledge with this one. "I'm not sure, perhaps we could ask Dad."
"Because he's a doctor."
"Well, that was his chosen profession"
"Umm, that's what he wanted to do"
"Because he's a good and caring person"
"Because God made him that way."
I stopped there. I was unprepared to go beyond the Divine Being in my ongoing justification.
I've tried various strategies to stop the seemingly endless flow of answers required. It doesn't work. I'm just asked 'Why?" again.
There does appear to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Just recently, as our little girl's cognitive ability and clarity and breadth of speech increase daily I have been able to stem the flow.
My current answer of choice is "Why do YOU think?'
Sometimes it works.
Sometimes it doesn't.
While I was writing this post our daughter came into the room. J has been working all weekend, therefore I've been writing the post all day, fitting in a few lines in-between caring for both children.
"What are you doing?" She asked.
"Writing my blog." I replied.
"Why?" She replied.