My three-year-old son is going through his "Why?" phase right now. Actually, he's been going through it for awhile now, and when it first hit, my natural inclination was to try to end his questioning as quickly as possible with short answers and a stern warning to knock it off. However, I was struck with the realization that my high school students had lost this sense of curiosity somewhere along the line and no longer seem interested in exploring much of anything beyond the surface.
I wrote about this on my teacher blog (www.mrogle.blogspot.com) and opined about it on Twitter. My principal (www.phsprincipal.blogspot.com) sent me a link to this video, and it really struck a chord a with me. I decided right then that I would answer my son's questions to the best of my ability until his curiosity was satisfied.
Don't get me wrong, his repetitive questioning can be very annoying and at times exhausting, but I really do my best to give him real answers to his questions whenever I can. Unfortunately, I'm not the most knowledgeable guy on some subjects and some of his questions simply don't have real answers. This has lead to some interesting conversations.
We were driving down the road one day when it began to rain. He asked why it was raining. I proceeded to tell him about the water cycle and about how moisture builds in the air to the point that it can't hold anymore and that the temperature also plays a role in producing clouds capable of causing precipitation. I was pretty proud of my knowledge of this (a big thank you to Eastern Illinois University for making me take a class on weather and climate), but he wasn't satisfied. He wanted to know why all of this happens. I explained that it was simply the laws of nature at work. He wasn't satisfied with this either. I was left with no other option than to tell him that is just how God wants it. He asked why God wants it that way. I said it is because God wants to water the plants on Earth. He asked why. I said it was because he wanted them to grow and be pretty. He asked why again. This went on for a good five minutes before I could only tell him that he needed to take this line of questioning up with God. It was at this point that my little boy looked up from his booster seat and said in the most innocent voice imaginable, "God, why do you make it rain?" There was silence in the car for a few moments. Then he looked back at me and said, "Daddy, he's not answering." I caught myself just in time to keep from saying, "Sometimes God doesn't answer us right away," but I knew that would only start the cycle again. I'm a man, not a saint.
Other times, his questions just don't have an answer that I can give. We were driving through town (most of these happen when he is bored in the car) and passed some cheerleaders from the local university holding signs advertising their car wash. If I'd had cash, I would have stopped. I mean, my car was dirty and it seemed like a good cause. Anyway, my son asked what they were doing. I explained the idea of a fundraising car wash. He asked why they needed money. I explained it was to pay for their expenses since cheerleading is an often overlooked program when it comes to funding. He asked why, so I explained about revenue from ticket sales and pressure from booster clubs. He was okay with that, but then asked why they were allowed to stand out near the road and wash cars. I said I didn't know. He persisted down this path, and I honestly ran out of ideas to keep his little mind going. Again, there was silence in the car. Finally, after much thought, my son asked, "Did their mommy say they could?" Hallelujah! "Yes, son. Their mommy said they could." Silence. "Why?"
I don't know if all of this will lead to my son being an engaged and intellectually curious teenager, but I can only hope it helps because I am certain it will be a contributing factor to my future grey hair.