Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Toddler Why: 0 to WHYWHYWHY In a Few Short Weeks

toddler why

It wasn't that long ago - two months, about - that I penned a post describing the Babby's first forays into the realm of the toddler why. We're a very PRO WHY household - curiosity is rewarded, in other words. What is a baby and then a toddler, anyway, other than curiosity personified? So you can imagine how delighted were were when the Babby started asking why this and why that and why not some other thing with a degree of regularity. When the Babby asked why, we suddenly had an amazing opening in which we could explain what was happening and know that she was listening. Mostly.

But you know what? I thought I had at least another few years before I would find myself assaulted with hundreds of instances of "Why?" each day. Nope! Apparently that time is now.

The infrequent plaintive whys that were so often associated with things the Babby didn't want to do or wanted to do but couldn't are now much more jolly and thrown at me in almost every conceivable situation. And boy, do these whys sometimes have us stumped. Not because we don't know the answers, but because the answers are complicated. How do you distill genetics down so a toddler can understand? How do you explain that someone, somewhere named the sky and the words stuck?
  • Why is that a dog?
  • Why is that dog brown?
  • Why is that my car seat?
  • Why do you buckle my car seat?
  • Why is that the sky?
  • Why is that our car?
  • Why are we getting in the car?
  • Why do we have to take the car?
  • Why is this dinner?
  • Why is that your foot?
  • Why is that a clock?
  • Why does it tell time?
My technique has been to toss age appropriateness out the window. Oh, I know she hasn't the foggiest when I talk about basic genetics as it relates to traits, but someday she will and I think she'll be better for my having lobbed hardballs at her when she came up to bat with all of her "Why? Why? Why?" wackiness. We've also entered the realm of the multiple why string: "Why is this dinner?" "Because meals have names depending on when we eat them and sometimes the type of food." "Why?" "Because people like to keep track of time in lots of little ways." "Why?" "Because a lot of people like to or have to do certain things at the same time each day." Etc.

The only downside to all this why'ing, as I see it, is that the Babby has learned that she can use it briefly as a stalling tactic precisely because we're so pro curiosity in our house. It's rare indeed that either of us will say something like "Because I said so," though I have said some variation of it at least twice. I don't want to discourage curiosity, but it would be nice to get in the car once in a while without having to stop and answer all those whys!


  1. Yay for pro-curiosity! It's a lot of work, but the payoffs are huge. Babby will be so knowledgeable, her teachers will be impressed

  2. So adorable! That's one of my favorite things about young ones - their curiosity. Mine are 7 and 3 and haven't lost it yet!

  3. I admit to getting annoyed by the whys sometimes. *blushes*

  4. I get the whys a lot too.

    They sometimes drive me nuts.

  5. The whys are fun and exhausting all at the same time!

    Visiting from SITS :)


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