It was modeled for me constantly in my parents actions who would often delight in dinner table stories of how I challenged the teacher and agued my way to a B-minus. The challenge and the question, actually hinging on defiant are celebrated in my parent’s house. This is a quality I too plan to encourage in my children. I know, you parents of teenagers are laughing at me for thinking I have any control over the amount of cheeky attitude-ness coming from my kid but I made a vow long ago to never answer a question like “Why can’t I stay up late?” with “Because, I said so.” My parents didn’t and I won’t. (Do I hear you laughing again?)
In fact my parents often answered every question in earnest and in detail often to the extent of superfluous lectures on subjects that were totally unrelated to the original question. I once remember asking why we couldn’t get the yummy cereal with the prize inside and being subjected to a lecture on the consequence of chemical preservatives expelled through urine and its effects in declining tadpole populations through genetic deformations. The short of it being if I eat Sugar Smacks, my pee will kill Kermit’s children. Ok, in retrospect perhaps the unwanted lecture was their method to end the incessant “Why?... Why?... Why?... Why?...” that a seven year old can pelt you with.
To their credit when my parents didn’t have an answer to say perhaps “Why don’t we just share our food with those kids in Ethiopia?” they often redirected me to the appropriate resource, a politician, the library, an encyclopedia. Sometimes I was still left with the question like “Why don’t we just share our food with those kids in Ethiopia?” but I always had a better understanding of things afterwards. I look forward to the questions my children will have and I wonder what kind of answers I will be able to give them. Today I had a little primer in the world of “Why?”.
Ella: Mom? You don’t feel good?
Me: No honey I don’t feel good.
Ella: Why don’t you feel good?
Me: My head hurts a little.
Ella: Are you gonna barf?
Me: No honey I’m not.
Ella: Why not?
Me: Cause I don’t like to barf.
Ella: Why not?
Me: Because it tastes gross.
Ella: Yeah, barfs is gross.