Why? Why? Why? Elsa…

Well, it’s happened. Earlier than expected, Elsa has discovered the word “why”. In fact, it’s worse – at two-years-and-two-months-old, she’s discovered the question “why?”

Up until now, her exploration of language has been cute; her mistaking of “fluffy” for “funny” was a highlight (as exhibited with an Elsa/Joe Pesci on the Bewildered Dad Podcast). Even the “again” stage was fine because it showed that she had enjoyed the story you were telling or whatever “fluffy” tickling game you were playing to make her giggle.

As for “why?”, it’s still early days but it didn’t get off to the most auspicious of starts:

Me: If you want to see the birds in Grandma and Grandad’s garden, you need to be quiet. Birds can be scared of people.

Her: Why?

Me: Because they are much smaller than people.

Her: Why?

Me: Because their wings wouldn’t be able to carry them if they were as big as us.

Her: Why?

Me: Because they’d be too heavy.

Her: Why?

Me: Um…look! There’s Grandad! Let’s hide from him!

Herr: Why?

It is great that she is interested in the world and that she’s striving to learn and discover new stuff, but I’m going to have to work out a cunning answer that invites no further questioning, and I need to do it quickly. Has anyone ever managed this? Who am I kidding? If someone had stumbled across this parenting Holy Grail, they’d have written a book and made a mint from drained, desperate parents the world over who were worn down from months of micro-analysing EVERY FLAMING THING THAT EVER HAPPENS and would be living in a gold plated castle.

Is it just a case of creating a distraction? Do I have to be a kind of daddy Derren Brown, throwing her off her line of questioning by pointing out the window and shouting “LOOK! MR TUMBLE!” before running away and hiding in the airing cupboard? It’s certainly looking like a tempting option.

By the way, I do realise that Derren Brown’s tricks are a little more finessed than that, but he’s had years to work on his act, the above conversation with Elsa happened just yesterday. I’m playing catch up.

I don’t want to be the sort of person who snaps “because I say so” in response to “why?”, but I see why parents resort to that eventually. There is never going to be a definitive answer, so toddlers will never be satisfied. On the flipside, that’s actually admirable. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of their book and question the actions and ideals of those in power more. However, I wouldn’t recommend trying it at work too often. Your boss has the ability to hand you your P45, an option noticeably lacking in the contract between you and your offspring.

Have you unearthed a better answer to “why?” or do you just have to ride it out? How long does it last? How do you deal with it? Let me know in the Comments section and we can create some kind of hive mind consensus that might solve it forever.

Please note, I reserve the right to subsequently publish our solution, sell a billion copies of the book and promptly snap up that gold-plated castle. You can visit. Well, you can have a look around the grounds, I suppose.

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