there is so much I don’t know

11 May there is so much I don’t know

How is it that the thing my 3-year-old resists most is the thing I most crave?

Rest, my dear. You’ll thank me later.

But why, Mommy? I’m not tired. Why?

Because we have fun things planned. You need to rest so you’ll enjoy them.


You’re tired.

I’m not.

I think you are. I know I am.

You’re tired, Mommy? Why?

I don’t know who tripped the Why Switch, but it’s on, and I can’t turn it off. Why do we need sleep? Why do we comb our hair? Why is it hot today? Why did the mailman come? Why do I go to school today? Why can’t I go to school on Saturday? Why is the light green? Why is that truck there? Why is it not here instead? Why is water wet? Why do we poop? Why do ants bite? Why do caterpillars become butterflies? Why can’t they stay caterpillars forever? Why can’t Spiderman sleep over at my house? Why do flowers die?

I am just me. There are things I don’t know. But I look at her eyes and I’m not just me, I’m THE MAMA. And she expects an answer.

I swallow hard and search for the words that will stop the whys…not in a “because I said so” sort of way or in a forced-teaching-moment “let’s research this together” sort of way, though there is a place for that. But I’m not sure she really wants precision or textbook answers. Sometimes, sure. But often, I think she wants patience and a witness to her growth. She asks “why? why? why? but, WHY?” and I picture this:

Too many tweets. Her brain is over capacity.

Let’s rest together, I tell her, and snuggle her in tight next to me on the bed. In a while, she is still, and I can smell her hair and stroke her cheek and drift to sleep myself. So brief and so sweet. Like caterpillars, I tell her.

  • Erin
    Posted at 23:17h, 11 May Reply

    Lately my tactic with the “Why’s” has been “Well, hon, why do you think X?” This is great for when there isn’t an obvious answer to the question because we can then use our imaginations to think about what the answer might be. This comes up a lot when reading stories as she asks questions about the illustrations and I have no idea why the illustrator chose to portray something in a certain way. “Why is the sky blue?” now that, I can answer. ;-D

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