Oh dear. I’d obviously heard of this phase (and even have a distant memory of going through it myself) – but I can’t believe it’s here already. I know it’s a good thing that my child has an enquiring mind and appreciate that it’s a natural developmental stage. I was incredibly proud of her at first and enjoyed the bemused looks people gave me as she asked impossible questions about grocery items as we trawled the supermarket aisles. I thought I’d be the kind of mother with endless patience (who was I kidding?!) and a never ending stream of useful answers, but sadly, I’m not.
Because you see, it’s not just the “Why?” question. Two other pearlers that have arrived along with it are “What’s that smell?” and “What’s that noise?”. Often I don’t even know what the smell or noise is myself, so I make it up because “I don’t know” doesn’t seem to be a satisfactory answer for her. “What’s that smell?” can be slightly more embarrassing, especially when uttered on a packed train next to a slightly odourous gentleman.
I do try and supply her with truthful answers but after a while I become my own worst parenting nightmare and just say “because”. It goes a little something like this:
[As I chug down my antenatal vitamins in the morning]:
Her: “Mommy, what’s that?”
Me: “These are medicine my love”
Me: “To make Mommy and the baby in my tummy big and strong”
Me: “Because being big and strong makes us happy”
Bear in mind that this conversation happens EVERY weekday morning at approximately 7 am and follows exactly the same course every day.
Sometimes the “Why’s” are a good thing because they make you stop and REALLY think about why you say something, or do something, or eat something. When she asks why I’m talking very loudly to the lady in the car in front of me, I realise that my road rage is unnecessary and I stop abruptly. When she asks why Mommy is going to work I tell her that I need to make money – but then I feel guilty because that answer sounds both simplistic and materialistic.
Sigh, as parents we’ll always find things to beat ourselves up about. And I know it’s okay to not have all the answers. From now on I’m going to end more of these conversations with “I don’t know” because let’s face it, there are so many things that I know so little about – but isn’t that what’s great about the world? We’re always learning, whether we’re 2 and a half or 33 – and for Rachel, the journey of discovery is just beginning.