Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Why, Mommy?"

I had just told Thomas, my two year old, that we would eat chocolate cake but that we would share: one plate, one glass of milk, one fork, one piece.

I opened up the fridge and grabbed the container of milk. As I shut the door, I heard my son ask, "Why, Mommy?" with his head tilted to his right and his palms facing up and out beyond his shoulders in that universal stance of questioning.  I stood at the counter smiling at his look of query. Oh, happy day!

He has no idea what this means.  Maybe, even, he's like the rest of us---big people, adults---who think things so often, the line between said and unsaid is fuzzy.  Maybe he has been thinking Why? for quite a while now, but I know this is the first time I've heard it.

So, what does this mean? Why am I thrilled about this simple two-worded question?

1. You remember Discipline Reform School, or whatever it was I referred to it as? Well, that's going great and all, but I'm still at home with a toddler, one whose unrivaled fight for independence and authority is not quite an equal match to his entry-level vocabulary.  The use of that simple word why means another outlet for preventing and diffusing frustration. I try my best to explain to him why he shouldn't touch the flame or spray me with jet-force blasts of water, but I'm so happy that, if I forget, he will remind me to tell him why.

2. All knowledge comes from questions. Well, duh. We all know that. But seriously, pinch my slap happy teacher self!  For the nerdy, lit toting educator that I am, this day, the day my son started asking "Why?" is more significant than all those benchmarks in his neglected "baby book".  Forget the day his first tooth pushed through his gums or the day he rolled over unto his back. This is the real stuff! 

Good thing he's not quite old enough to ask, "Mommy, why have you eaten 1/3rd of that birthday cake you made for Daddy?"