Twenty (Thousand) Questions

A couple of weekends ago I got to spend some time with my devastatingly handsome nephew, Gavyn. Gavyn is three. And he is in the question stage. I vaguely recall this from my children’s own development, though it’s more or less a blur because I was usually too exhausted to appreciate it. I do remember it vividly with my cousin, Nicole, when she was that age, and I was a childless college student. One Christmas she backed me into a corner with a relentless interrogation about the Tooth Fairy. I’m pretty sure I ended up telling her that the Tooth Fairy takes kids’ teeth and gives them to babies, in case anyone ever questions you about what she does with all those collected teeth.

Gavyn probes a topic until he has run it completely into the ground. My brother takes it in stride, but it’s funny to hear him relate the typical kinds of conversations he has with him on the daily commute to daycare.

He wants answers.

He wants answers.

“Why there barrels in the road?”
“Because they’re doing road construction.”
“Why they doing road construction?”
“Because the road needs to be fixed.”
“Why the road need to be fixed?”
“Because the pavement was worn out.”
“What’s the pavement?”
“It’s the part of the road you drive on.”
“Why you drive on it?”
“Because you need to drive on something flat.”
“What’s flat?”
“It means there aren’t any bumps on the road.”
“Why there not bumps on the road?”
“Because the road needs to be flat to drive on.”
“Why the road need to be flat?”
“Because if it’s not flat, the tires will be ruined.”
“What’s tires?”
“Those are the wheels on the car.”
“Why there wheels?”
“To drive on the road.”
“Why you drive on the road?”
“Because it’s flat.”
“Why it flat?”

“Your honor, I object. Asked and answered.” The conversation has started to circle. It’s that kind of endless loop from which there is no escape if you are in a confined space with him. And it’s best not to deviate from the norm, ever. For example taking a 100-yard drive without wearing a seatbelt.

“Why Sissy not wear her seat belt?”
“Because we were only going a block.”
“What’s a block?”

Not answering the questions is not an option as his vocal demands for an answer simply grow louder. And a plea for quiet goes nowhere.

“Gavyn, how ’bout we just listen to the radio.”
“Why we listen to the radio?”
“Because it’s cool music.”
“What’s cool music?”
“Music we like to listen to.”
“Why we listen to music?”
“Because it’s relaxing.”
“What’s relaxing?”

The only person who was effective in shutting him down was Alex. He’s six, and can either relate, or just doesn’t have a vested interest in preserving the relationship with his cousin at the cost of being annoyed. Though when his parents employ a similar tactic, it creates only a few seconds of peace while he takes the time to momentarily regroup, and look around for something to come at from a new angle.

“Alex, why David bigger than Justin?”
“Because he’s older.”
“What’s older?”
“He was born first.”
“Why he born first?”
“I don’t know.”

Funny as it is for me, no longer a parent of a three-year-old, to watch and chuckle about this, the weekend didn’t come without implications for my own household. Because it gave Justin a new idea for aggravating his younger brother by doing a spot-on imitation of Gavyn’s voice.

“Alex, why you reading a book?”
“Because I like this book.”
“Why you like this book?”
“Shut up, Justin.”
“Why you say shut up?”
“GO AWAY!”
“Why you say go away?”
“You’re stupid!”
“What’s stupid?”
“Stop it, JUSTIN!!!”
“What’s Justin?”
“MOMMMMM!!!! Justin’s repeating me!!!”
“What’s repeating?”
“STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“Why you say stop it?”
(Untranslatable scream and kick to the shin.)
“Why you say ahhhhhheeeeeehhhhhhiiieee???”

Maybe I’ll take the question phase back.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2013

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