What is one thing guaranteed to drive parents to the brink of a cliff, to cover their ears and chant,”La, la, la!” or to wonder whether their college education was really good preparation for life? The age of,”Why?” This simple, innocent question is so beautiful the first time you hear it. Your three year old is embarking on a journey of wonderment, seeking to fill their little mind with knowledge. Then you discover that “Why?” has no boundaries. “Why?” is exhausting and has no end. “Why?” proves how much you don’t know.
But then, I thank God for “Why?”
“Why?” you might ask.
We have a four year old son. Noah struggles with speech and has had to work hard to get to a point of being able to make simple requests. Everything he has learnt so far has been through his exploration of the world around him or that which we have told him or thought he would like to know. He hasn’t been able to ask questions. Until one day he did.
Noah was playing out in the garden. Daddy was running him a bath and called through the bathroom window. “Noah, it’s time for your bath.” Noah kept playing with his dump truck and asked,”Why?” Daddy replied,”Because you are dirty and it’s almost time for dinner.” Hang on. He just asked,”Why?” Why!
I had lamented that Noah would pass through the age of insatiable preschool curiosity and never be able to ask,”Why?” I laugh, because why has appeared before what or where, which developmentally should happen first. Noah has an active little mind and is losing no time in catching up on the why’s of life.
And now I am subject to his continuous,”Why, mum?” Thankfully, big brother Sam has already put me through a gruelling two year program of WHY preparation. I have learnt to think on my feet, recall information that I was taught to me in school, divert the attention…and the ultimate strategy. Turn the tables back on the kid. “What do you think, Sam?” At the end of a seemingly endless quiz where each answer given, simply led to another why and the tidal wave of why seemed ready to overwhelm me, this would be my lifeline. Strangely enough, it worked. Sam would stop. Think. And come up with an answer of his own. And now he demonstrates an in depth understanding of many natural and scientific processes that I did not at that age. Accidentally, I became Socratic. And that has led my boy to think for himself and to start answering some of his own questions.
Why is a celebration. It’s the start of Noah being able to let us know what he wants to know. It’s the beginning of a new era of learning as he becomes curious about the world and seeks out knowledge for himself. So I am happy to answer the endless,”Why mum?” And already I have had to turn the tables on Noah and ask him,“What do you think, Noah?”
In this new phase, I have answered such ground breaking questions as:
Why does the foreman on a building site have to direct the operator of the crawler crane?
Why do bees collect nectar from flowers?
Why can’t I eat the raw egg straight out of the mixing bowl?
Why do I have to wear pants?
Why did Jesus die on the cross?
Why can’t we see dinosaurs now?
Of course, Noah does not use all these words in the question. But, “Why, mum?” can be interpreted in the context of what we are reading or doing or looking at. Why infiltrates every aspect of life and makes its way into so many interactions with my son. It may drive me crazy sometimes, but I won’t complain about why anymore. It’s been a long time coming. My little boy has asked his first question. Now he is embarking on a marvellous learning journey with plentiful questions that MUST be asked. And I have the privilege of answering them.