Why oh why?

05/30/2013 12:01 AM

05/26/2013 10:55 PM

Some things are inevitable. 

Death, taxes, the fact that your car will stop making that noise it's been making for weeks the second you drive onto the mechanic's property.

And, of course, a toddler's discovery of the power of "why."

With Nora at 3 years and 1 month of age, we've hit full "why" mode at our house. Why did you say that? Why is the dog doing that? Why is poop brown? (Yes, really.)

She's the daughter of a teacher and a journalist, so she's especially relentless with her why-ing, and we'd be hypocrites to dodge it, now wouldn't we?

So we cope, albeit in different ways. My husband, the teacher, tries to exhaust the "whys" by actually answering them – at great length and in very great detail. It's kind of like those bands who will punish drunken audience members who shout for "Freebird" by actually playing "Freebird." ALL of "Freebird." The hope is you'll be careful what you ask for next time.

Why is it raining? "Well, Nora," my husband will begin, "two weather fronts collided and …" I'll spare you the full five-minute explanation, since YOU didn't ask.

I try to fight fire with fire. After the first few whys, when "why" is clearly becoming a stalling tactic or just a fun game of let's repeat, I answer a question with a question. (Journalists HATE this, but hey, I never agreed to go on the record here.) "I don't know, Nora," I'll say. "Why do YOU think that bird landed there?" Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but it usually buys me at least a few precious seconds of peace as she works her way around my dodge.

Even during the most relentless barrage of whys, though, we love her curiosity. And she's certainly proving that she has determination and focus. So bring on the whys, Nora. Just don't be surprised if you sometimes find yourself asking "Why are you hiding in the closet, mama? Why? Why?"

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