I firmly believe that all kids — even those as young as 3 or 4 — deserve an answer to their incessant “why” questions. It can be taxing and exhausting and annoying to listen to all of them and then respond individually, but in my head, I think our kids deserve to be given answers to their questions the same way we would respond to another adult’s inquiry.
That’s what my head thinks.
My heart, however, knows that while I have the desire to answer every single “why,” I flat-out don’t always have the time or ability or desire to answer them appropriately. And when those moments happen, the words that come out of my mouth are “Because I said so.”
Honestly, I hate saying it. It sounds like a cop-out. Like my kids are undeserving of a real reason. Like I’m just shutting them down in hopes of moving on with our day. That’s not the case though.
Well, not all the time.
Sometimes we just don’t have the time it takes for me to explain something to my kids. We’re in a rush to get out the door so we don’t miss an appointment, and they ask, “Why do we have to go to the doctor?” I’d much rather sit them down and explain that the doctor keeps us healthy, gives us medicine when we’re sick, helps us grow big and strong, etc. In reality, we have 3 minutes to get there, and all I can sputter is, “Because I said so. Now get in the car.”
Or it’s bedtime. I’ve finished their nightly routine, which has only gotten longer over the years. I turn out the light, reach for the door, and here it comes: “Mom, why can’t we keep snacks in our bed?” Once again, my head wants to respond with something that explains the intricacies of crumbs, dirty sheets, ant infestations, general cleanliness, but it is a gazillion hours past bedtime so eff that noise.
“Because I said so” flies out of my mouth as I close their bedroom door.
I get it. I mentally know the importance and value of explaining my thoughts and actions to my kids, along with my reasons for the decisions I make. That way, they can grow up and give their kids the same amount of patience.
I wish I could do it every time they ask a question, but kids ask a lot of questions, and they have killed a lot of my brain cells, and sometimes I just want to drink a lot of whiskey.
My patience aside, there’s also the matter of parental respect at play. As Cartman from South Park so eloquently puts it, “Respect my authority!” There’s a time and place for questions, kids, but if I’ve already told you to do something — or told you not to do something — you just need to follow through on what I told you instead of battering me with a million “whys.”
You and I have your entire life ahead of us for me to answer your questions, but 30 seconds before school starts is not one of those moments.
With all sincerity, I have a few hopes for my kids and our relationship. I hope that as they get older, they will ask fewer “why” questions but that there will be more meaning behind the questions they do ask — more truth being sought out. “Why can’t I color on the bathroom wall?” doesn’t mean as much as “Why does my friend have two dads?”
I also hope that as we move forward, I find more time and patience to respond to them with love and kindness. For now, though, my kids are 3 and 4, and they just need to learn that there’s a time to ask questions, a time for a proper answer, and a time to do what Mom says because she is in charge and because she said so.
This post first appeared on Scary Mommy