Why?

I knew I had it coming when my son started asking “What’s this”? That was about a year ago – he was not quite two. My cousin commented on that blog post: wait until he starts asking why. She was talking from experience.

I know it’s healthy for my son to ask why. I want him to be curious and wonder how the world works. But I have to confess that after the 15th “why” in a row, I’m finding myself answering, more and more often, “I don’t know!”, because that’s usually the only way to make him stop and move on to something else. That or another cop-out answer. One example of such cop-out, yesterday, in a public washroom:

- What’s that, maman?
- It’s a machine that sells sanitary pads.
- Why?
- It’s for grown-up women. They can put money in it and get a sanitary pad.
- Do you need one maman? (Because he’s right, after all, I am a grown-up woman.)
- No.
- Why?

I guess I could have started a long explication about how I prefer to use my own when I need them, but anyway I am pregnant, and therefore won’t need them for a while. But as you may guess, I haven’t explained “periods” to him yet. He’s not even three! I don’t know how I would make it simple enough for him to make sense of it. I bet the occasion will come way too soon, because in our house we don’t tend to shut the bathroom door very often. But it hasn’t happened yet. So I copped out and mumbled something about how it was very complicated and I would explain it some other day.

Here is another example, probably more representative of everyday situations. Yesterday, we went to EPIC, a sustainability expo at the Convention center. They had hybrid and electric cars on display and our son was allowed to climb in them. Then in the kid’s corner, they had a bin with wood chips and construction trucks to play with. But behind them was a real, life-size backhoe (or something like that… I’m not good with the names of construction trucks).

- Maman, can I go in?
- No.
- Why?
- Because the doors are locked.
- Why?
- Because the people who put them there didn’t want us to go in.
- Why?
- Well, maybe they were afraid we’d get hurt.
- Why?
- Because it’s really high.
- Why?

And it goes on like this forever. I must admit I don’t think I actually made it there in the conversation. I think that at “Why don’t they want us to go in”, I probably copped out with my “I don’t know, my love!” answer. It had been a long day and my patience was running out. But the worse thing is, I hate myself when I’m impatient. I know that if he’s still asking why, it’s probably that I haven’t managed to give the answer he was looking for, something on his level. But often it just seems like there will never be an end to the string of questions. And many times, he’s asking questions that really don’t have an answer!

Why?

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