“Ok buddy, time to go get your shoes so mama can help put them on.”
“Because we have to go to the grocery store.”
“Because we have to go buy food so we can make dinner.”
“Because we’re going to be hungry at dinner time.”
“Because our bodies need food to help us grow big and strong.”
“Because that’s how God made our bodies.”
Does this conversation sound familiar to anyone else? I swear we have this same sort of conversation about 103 times a day at my house. Caleb has to know the “why” behind everything from brushing his teeth to the color of flowers. He needs to know why his best friend’s sister’s name is Elsie and why there are clouds in the sky. And one answer never suffices. Every answer leads to more “whys” and those answers lead to even more.
I’d be lying to you if I said that they “whys” didn’t wear on me. I want peace and quiet. I want my son to obey the first time I want him to do something. I want him to understand the reasons for things (or not care about the reasons for things) without asking. I want to answer “because I said so” or “because that’s the way it is” without thinking up a suitable, truthful answer. I want to be selfish.
Recently, though, I’ve chosen to truly listen to the questions my son is asking. Rarely is he being naughty or rude in his questioning – even when I’m thinking he’s just choosing not to obey. Let’s take the first discussion for example. Caleb is happily playing and I ask him to go get his shoes on. It’s not naughty to be curious about why I’m asking him to get his shoes on. So I tell him we’re going to the store. Now he’s wondering what we have to get at the store so he asks why again. I tell him we need food. He’s curious about what the food is for since sometimes we make treats like banana bread, sometimes we make food for MOPs meetings, sometimes we make meals. I tell him we’re getting food for dinner…
You see where I’m going with this. In a toddler’s mind, all these questions are valid. He’s learning, growing, being shaped and molded. He’s learning about the way the world works and is absorbing information like a sponge. He wants to learn and can finally express the questions that have been rolling around in his mind for who knows how long.
When I decide that my toddler can’t ask these questions that are rolling around in his brain, I’m doing his little spirit a disservice. I long to nurture and grow my little man, his curiosity, and his desire to learn.
I’m choosing to find joy in the “whys.”
Joy in the fact that my little man has a brain that he’s using to shape his worldview.
Joy in the fact that Caleb is curious and filled with wonder.
Joy in the fact that he wants to talk to me and trusts what I have to say.
I won’t stop there either. I’ll ask HIM to answer why questions for me. I’ll look up information when I don’t know things. (Sidenote: Did you know a hippo sounds like a deep voiced pig? Somehow Caleb’s “whys” led us to looking that up) And, sometimes, I’ll fail and get frustrated. And that will lead to even more learning – learning that mamas need to say “sorry” too and that grace goes both ways.
How long did the “why” stage last for you kiddos?
What was the best “why” question you had to answer for your little ones?