Ever read in child-rearing books that such-and-such a kid is supposed to hit this-or-that milestone by such-and-such age? And then, did you ever have the experience of your kid (or plural, kids) not hitting those milestones?
(Tonya just piped up, "Neither of my brothers ever crawled!" Yes, that's exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about.)
Well, when all the books say he should be doing this by this age, and your kid doesn't, it can make you scratch your head and wonder if there's something odd about your kid. If none of your kids hit the milestone, it makes you scratch your head and wonder if there's something odd about you.
(Or, it makes you wonder about your spouse. But that's another topic, for another blogger entirely.)
Well, we in the Power household have identified one such phenomenon in our children: They almost never ask why.
The more I think about this, the more I'm confounded by it. Kids are supposed to ask why! Just about every kid who's ever existed asks why. They're supposed to ask you why the sky is blue, why the grass has the same name as Daddy (this supposedly happens when your name is Timothy), why cats lick themselves, why flour doesn't come from flowers ("Then why are they named the same?"), why do I have to go to bed, why did my sister get more than me, why, why, why until the parent calls out in frustration, "Because I said so! That's just the way it is! Eat your beets!"
Mine don't. Why?
I've considered a few theories, but I'm not sure what's up. One theory is that kids ages five and below don't go for abstract logic, and "Why" questions are all about abstract logic, cause-and-effect, and all that. According to the "Trivium" model that forms the basis of Classical Education, kids don't really get into that sort of thing until they approach age ten or so. But if we go too far in that direction, we have to conclude that my kids are the normal ones, and everyone else's kids are weird. While I like to muse on the ramifications of this point, it begs the next question: why are everyone else's kids so weird?
Ok, next theory: My kids--the Pillowfight Fairy in particular--have very strong tendencies to introversion. It's not so much that they're shy--the Fairy was introducing herself tonight to every adult and teen she met at church by loudly and happily declaring, "I'm Wilbur!*"--but rather that what goes on in their own minds is so much more interesting to them than what goes on in the world around them. They come by it honestly, of course--both Mommy and Daddy are like that. But it could be that they are so introverted that they simply don't care about why the sky is blue or why they have to eat their beets. In their own private world, the sky is pink and no one ever has to eat beets, and that's good enough for them.
(Note: I'm using beets as a rhetorical device, which is about all they're good for. I loathe them, and would never inflict them on a child. When I say beets, think any number of other perfectly good foods that they loathe with a loathing like my beet-loathing).
Well, my wife has offered a third theory: Kids ask why because they're trying to get attention from their parents. They want their parents to spend time talking to them, and they quickly learn that asking why is a really good way of provoking a response. Tonya, on the other hand,
has trained herself (contrary to her normally reserved nature) to talk about everything with her children. "Ok, now I'm going to wash this dish. See all this gunk? That's what's left over from lunch, and we have to wash it off before we use the plate again, or we'll get gunk on the new food." "Little boy, I'm going to take the diaper off now, and put a new one on. Oh, heavens, look at this! I'm glad I decided to check you." "That's a lovely horse you've drawn. Are you going to cut it out and put it up?" And so on, and so on. She jokes that she's gotten in the habit of talking, talking, constantly talking, to the point where the girls just want her to shut up. Ergo, they see no need to ask the "why" question.
I'm curious to find out what other people's experiences are. How much do your kids ask, "why?" What ages did they start? What kinds of questions do they ask?
I'm curious to know, because I'm dying to have the Pillowfight Fairy start asking me why questions, so I can answer her (a la Calvin's Dad in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip) that yes, the world used to be in black and white, but everything turned to color starting sometime in the 1940's....
*This is because she's really gotten into the story of Charlotte's Web lately. Could be worse: for a few days there, she was Templeton.