I Need Some Advice. Why? You Might Ask?

A few weeks ago Jack started asking, “Why?”.  I was surprised.  I thought I had at least six more months before the WHY’S began.  I was wrong.  At first it was kind of cute.  “Oh my God! He’s so curious. Honey, you have to hear this.”  Then, as quickly as I thought it was cute, it became kind of annoying.  I know it’s a developmental thing and all, but I feel like I am living in some kind of weird comedy sketch and I am the only one not laughing.
I recently read in one of those parenting magazines that the typical toddler asks WHY? an average of 76 times an hour.  An hour!!!  I believe it.  I am living it.  Here’s an example: 

Mommy:  Jack please stop hitting the cat.
Jack:  Why?
Mommy:  Because when you hit the cat you hurt him and it is not nice. 
Jack: Why?
Mommy: Because it hurts when you get hit.  Do you like getting hit by others?
Jack: No
Mommy: Then you need to stop hitting the cat and be nice to him.
Jack: Why?
Mommy:  I just told you why.  It hurts the cat and it is not nice to hit anyone.  Try petting the cat gently like this. 
Jack: Why?
Mommy: Because I said so.  That’s why.

Aaaaagggggghhhhh.

This is an actual conversation, if you can call it that, that took place in my son’s room this very morning.  And that’s right, I pulled out the old, “Because I said so.  That’s why.”.  I am not proud of myself.  I am a former elementary school teacher.  I taught for 13 years.  You would think that I would have a better answer than, “Because I said so.  That’s why.”.  But I didn’t and I find I often don’t. 

I know that it is important for Jack to ask WHY.  I mean how will he find the answer to all of his WHY’S if I don’t answer him?  Maybe he will be stunted forever if I don’t.  Maybe he won’t get into a good college and be passed up for the big job if I don’t answer his WHY’S.  I have visions of him standing at the alter to get married and when he is asked, “Do you take this woman/man as your wife/husband?” he will ask, “WHY?”
I will have permanently damaged him.  He will be in therapy forever and wind up writing a blog of his own about how his mother didn’t have the patience to answer all of his questions.

So my question is this: DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS AS TO HOW TO DEAL WITH A 2 1/2 YEAR OLD ASKING WHY EVERY OTHER SECOND??  Thanks for the help in advance.

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