We have once again entered the "why" portion of child rearing. As we move from the "terrible 2s" into the "I-hope-they-are-not-as-terrible-3s," K has discovered the word "why?" I am not even sure when she figured it out, but it was almost like someone flipped a switch.
A conservation with her last week in the car on the way to school:
Me: "Christine and Amy are sisters." (Referring to our former nanny and her sister, our sometimes babysitters.)
Me: "Because their mommy had two little girls."
Me: (After pausing a bit to consider my answer) "Because their Mommy wanted to have two little girls.
K: Giggle, followed by "no."
I love her giggle and the way she paused, then giggled and then said "no" made me laugh. She asks "why" about so many things, and not always things that make any sense to us, but I will assume make sense in her world. She often asks if Papa (Rob's dad) is at our house. When we say "no," she asks "why?" The response is usually something along the lines of his being at his house or with Nana, or at work (or wherever we think he might be at that time.) She usually follows up with another "why", at which point we usually try to change the subject.
The "why" question is an interesting one that can open so many doors or even Pandora's box, depending on the subject. Sometimes, we don't really want to know why, but we ask as a reflex. Sometimes, there is no answer why, but we ask anyway, hoping for more information to help process a situation. For a 2 or 3 year old, the question is often asked to gain more information about people or places, or even to establish boundaries. "Don't touch that hot stove." "WHY?" "Because it will burn you and hurt."
As adults, we still ask "why." Perhaps one of the more popular reasons to question why is when we are dumped. A relationship ends and we want to know what we did wrong, what we could have done different or better and ultimately, we want to know "WHY?" "Why did he leave me?" "Why wasn't I good enough?" For the most part, my dating history is littered with the carcases of men that I have left asking that very question. The often used response of "it's not you, it's me" is probably laying right there next to the carcases. At this point in time, the answers are not even important (or that readily remembered.) But the act of asking and the situation it creates is an interesting one. Do we even really expect an answer?
I will say that there is one (isn't there always?) that never answered my big "why" question - not even a throwaway answer. Just, nothing. It has been 15 years and I still sometimes wonder what happened. Perhaps in that instance, it was cruelty for him to not even offer the standard response. Perhaps the silence most deafening is the lack of a response. As I write this, I think of one other instance where the "why" was so important to me. It has been 6 years since that event, and although I got a response at the time, I sometimes wonder if the answer was sufficient.
Many times, it is that silence, that lack of an answer, that we experience more often as adults. Not necessarily because someone does not want to respond, but because there simply is no answer. In the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy, I read many articles and watched many interviews where people simply wanted to know why. Why they were spared when the person next to them was not. Why one friend walked away without a scratch and another friend will never walk again. Why Boston. Why now. Why us. For so many, a simple and yet difficult question that may never get answered.
It is human nature to want more information, particularly in situations that are troubling or highly emotional. Our minds seek to find something to ground us, something to cling to when emotions are out of control or when we simply cannot comprehend what is going on around us.
For the little ones, there is usually an answer. For us adults, we may have to work on accepting that sometimes there simply is not an answer, and possibly hope, if even just a little, that somewhere in the future, someone might have an answer for us. Until then, I will continue to respond to my daughter's curious "why" questions, even when she does it just to get a giggle, as much as I can.