Tuesday, October 25, 2016

But Why? A commentary on why answering a toddler's questions can be hard... or entertaining.

I was kind of looking forward to this stage of childhood, the "But why" times.  I was remembering the times when I think I enjoyed sailing with my dad more for the hours of talking to him and him having to answer my questions than I did for the actual sailing.   The constant circle of how things work and why was what kept my young head spinning.
Alas- I am getting older and the time has come and my three year old can outsmart me on solids, liquids and gases.  Do I pull out one of my old physics books that I have kept in the hope I can help him with homework someday?  No, I pull up YouTube and am equally fascinated by the non-native English speaker's rendition.
          Some examples of these conversations I find myself in:

  1. No, it's not ok to be naked in front of the window.  Anyone who is an adult knows the rationale behind this, but alas a 3 year old descends into "Why not?"  "I want to be able to see the moon and not be in my clothes at the same time."  After a discussion and trying to rationalize that quickly evolved into a dumbed down version of Theology of The Body, mixed with common sense, mixed with health class, he ended up coming up with an answer that was reasonable for both of us, "Is this like my book 'God made me special'?"  "Yes, yes that's it, God made you special and not for everyone to see everything.  Works for me."
  2. Warm dirty water on the bathroom floor = not a good idea.  "But why?"  "Because it feeds yeast and bacteria."  "But why?"  Because yeast and bacteria get fed by dirt and warm water.  But why?  Because they are going to have a party in that water.  But why?  Yeast and Bacteria and infection like a warm, moist and dirty environment.  But why are the yeast and Bacteria having a party?  Because they are excited to have a buffet.  But why is that bad if they want to have a party?  Because that's what causes an infection and that's gross.  But why?  Because it injures and destroys healthy tissue.  But why?  Because that's what happens when infection takes over.  I think at that point I distracted him with his Charlie Brown toy and got out of a further discussion.
  3. Mommy needs to drink more water.  "But Why?"  To stay hydrated.  But why?  Because it keeps her body healthy.  But why?  Because your blood needs water to transport nutrients to and from your tissues.  But why?  Because your tissues need nutrients and to get rid of waste.  But why?  Because that's how a body stays healthy.  But why?  You know how mommy needs to measure the right ingredients to make you a cake?  The body needs the right ingredients at the right balance to stay healthy. (I can't remember if that was my exact answer, but typically I've found I can shut off the but why if I start making him think of dessert).
  4. Why we are respectful of heroes.  We were at a memorial and I was trying to explain to him why we need to be quiet, not run and shout.  But why?  Because these people were heroes and we need to be respectful of them.  But what does "respectful" mean.  It means being grateful and thankful for their sacrifice.  What's a sacrifice?  Some more dialogue that was circular happened here and then I came up with, "You know how mommy's and daddy's will do anything they can to protect you?"  "Yes", he answered.  "Well, heroes are like mommy's and daddy's and do everything they can to protect other people.  Does that make sense?"  "Yes," he said, "that makes sense."

I have now come to realize if he's only three now even with three degrees I might just have to get him a tutor and forget about my old text books when he reaches school.  Or I could embrace this time and relearn everything with him.  We will see what time and patience allows.

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