The Why Phase

It finally happened. I knew it was coming. I thought I was ready. Boy, was I wrong.

My 2 ½-year-old daughter has entered the, “Why?” phase. (Also, “What’s that?” and, “What you doing?” but mostly, “Why?”)

I wouldn’t say it’s a constant stream of questions, as the child does stop to breathe. And eat. And throw the occasional tantrum. Otherwise, much of our time together goes something like this:

“Ok, Munchkin, we’re going to get in the car now and go home.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s time to go home.”

“Why?”

“Well, it’s the end of the day at daycare, and all of your friends are going home, too. We’re going to play, and then have some dinner.”

“Why?”

“This is what we do on Thursday. We play with friends, then we go home.

“Why?”

Wham. Wham. (That would be the sound of me banging my head on the steering wheel.)

It’s like she’s a caricature of a 2 year old. Except she’s not. She’s for real, she’s mine, and she doesn’t stop.

I know, I know. It’s a developmental stage. There’s so much going on around her, and she’s just starting to realize how much she doesn’t know. I also know she’s trying to connect with me. And I’d bet my left arm that she knows how much it irritates me–added bonus for her!

You’re probably thinking that I should chill out and be more Zen about it. I should let her endless questions roll off my back, like stream water rolling over the rocks. You’re not wrong. And if I were getting eight hours of sleep each night, exercising every day, and eating something other than stale cookies and coffee for breakfast, that might be possible. 

(Ok, who am I kidding? I’m about as Zen as Bart Simpson.)

I guess the Jewish mother in me should be proud. Is there anything we Jews prize more than intellectual curiosity? Don’t we encourage our children to question everything, to struggle with information? Don’t we want them to be doctors or lawyers or scholars–careers that involve searching for answers, debating others, and endless questioning? Think about it: what other religion has a holiday they celebrate by *making* the children memorize and recite questions? It’s our own damn fault.

To be honest, I suppose I am proud. Sometimes I even think it’s cute (for the first 60 seconds). I also know this is just another phase, and we’ll get through it. Meanwhile, I might have to invest in a good pair of headphones.

Turns out, kids can be really annoying sometimes. Read up on temper tantrums and the talking about poop phase.

Carla NaumburgCarla Naumburg, PhD, is a clinical social worker and writer. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post,The Huffington Post, Parents.com, PsychCentral.com, The Jewish Daily Forward, and Psychology Today. Her first book, Parenting in the Present Moment, was published by Parallax Press in October of 2014. She is currently writing a book on teaching mindfulness to children, which will be published by New Harbinger in late 2015. Carla grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Bay Area of California, and she currently lives outside of Boston with her husband and two young daughters. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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