We all know that constantly answering our kids' "why" questions is just par for the parental course. Our kids' minds are growing and they're curious about the world around them. This is all great...until you've played "21 questions" 21 times in a single day and your brain is slowly beginning to erode away. I mean, I know it's important though to build a trusting relationship with your kid, and sometimes that involves answering their many pressing inquiries, but I'm only human, guys. There is a limit to what I can take. Frankly, child of mine, there is also a limit to what I know the answer to.
Imagine how fascinating our big world must be to our pint-sized humans. We might be immune to the wonder inspired by the first contemplations of clouds and mud puddles, but kids aren't. They can't get enough of that sh*t. It's perfectly normal (albeit occasionally annoying) for our kids to constantly question our existence. That type of curiosity is what has helped to evolve our world in the first place.
And so it remains, banal interrogation is a regular part of a parent's day. Watching our kids learn and grow is amazing, but sometimes the cross-examinations can get a little out of hand and make us want to dive into a fish bowl full of margaritas. While so many of the inquiries our kids throw out way are strange, there are certain questions that will send us, their parents, into an all-out existential crisis
"What's This?" *Points To Penis Or Vagina*
This is a cross road for many parents. Deciding whether to use the proper terminology for your kid's body parts or to give our kids' private areas catchy little nicknames is often a conundrum. On one hand, we don't want our kids running around shouting "peniiiiiiiis" but on the other hand, it's going to get a little weird when our kids argue with their science teacher that they actually have a "twinkie" rather than an actual penis. (Spoiler: Just tell them the real words. Penises and vaginas (vaginae?) are body parts like elbows and knees.)
"Can I Have More [Insert Sugary Item Here]?"
It's great to reward our kids when they deserve it. But sometimes when we give them an inch, they take a mile. And by that, of course, I mean that we give them a cookie and they proceed to ask for the entire jar (if you're classy and actually keep your cookies in jars, and if your kid is an angel who asks instead of angrily demands). The greed and gluttony of these little monsters completely deducts from the reason they're being rewarded in the first place. (Although, fair: Cookies and candy and cake and ice cream are the finest things on earth and I want to eat them all the time too. I feel your struggle, kid. Still, no.)
"Are You Serious?"
Seriously? Yes, I'm serious! Are you serious? When did toddlers learn how to question their parents' judgment? I thought we were safe from that for, like, 10 more years at least.
"What's In Your Cup?" *Points To Wine Glass*
Oh, that's just mom's special juice that helps her to better tolerate life's woes. No, I'm sorry but you can't have any. Why? Because you're not allowed. Why? Because I literally need all of it. There. Are you happy?
Our little theorists need to know why everything happens, why everything is the way that it is, and why they can't do cannonballs off of the couch. "Why" is one of the most dreaded words in every parent's life, mostly because we still don't know all of the answers ourselves. Why do the foods that are the worst for us taste the best? Why can't it be 72 degrees and sunny year round? Why can't everyone be entitled to a beach house and an umbrella in their drink? Life's pressing issues are fueled every day the the word "why," and honestly, kid, we're not sure why either.
"Are You Kidding Me?"
Um, no, toddler — are you kidding me? Ah kids, they're the reflections we sometimes refuse to see. My husband never knew that he uttered these words so often until he put away our son's books too soon and our son expressed his sheer disdain for that decision. "Are you kidding me?" he said, "why would you do that?" I've heard of threenagers, but we have what I like to call a twonager.
"Will You Wipe My Butt?"
Well, since you asked so politely... Man, potty training and its many challenges always prove entertaining (and gross and frustrating) for parents. I suppose this is a legitimate question considering that not all kids have perfected their hand-eye coordination by the time their little cheeks have reached the toilet seat. So, yes. Yes, we will wipe your butt, but we're going to remind you of it every single time you take us for granted when you're a teenager.
"Where Did You Guys Go?"
How do you explain to a two-year-old that his parents just went to do the thing that creates more babies (except you're hoping that you didn't, in fact, create another baby)?
Mom and dad just went to exercise, son. Aerobics are key to a healthy lifestyle. Let's talk about fitness. Let's talk about your heart muscle tone. Let's literally talk about anything other than the sex that your other parent and I just had while you were napping.
"Where Did My [Very Loud And Obnoxious] Toy [That You Hate And Hid] Go?"
Well, truthfully, I threw it away, but that's not something that I expect my toddler to understand. So instead of panicking I tell him that I'm not sure but I'll try to find it, and I cross my fingers that he never remembers it again. Even though he will, and I'll inevitably wind up buying another to soothe the screams resulting from his missing drum set. I'm not sure which is worse: a screaming kid or a toddler who thinks he can play the drums.
"Why Do I Have To Wear Pants?"
Listen kid, I don't like to wear pants either. But until society normalizes the act of being publicly pantless, it's just something that we're both going to have to accept.
"Is Santa Real?"
This one can be tricky depending on whether or not you consider the story of Santa to be a harmless white lie, or a betrayal of your child's trust. For me, it's a white lie, for now, and a fun one. At some point though, I'm going to have to tell them that their father and I ate all of those cookies (which is going to really eat away at my authority when he asks for more of something sugary).
"Where Do Babies Come From?"
A fun thing to do if your kid is too young to have the attention span to really walk through the real answer (it's complicated, honestly, because there are a lot of places babies come from, and none of those places involve a one-step process to baby-making), is to just spill out the whole truth in one long sentence, and then they'll be too overwhelmed to know what follow-up questions to ask. You can just tell them the whole answer, then walk away while they sit there, quietly stunned, unable to ask questions. You weren't lying! You answered their question! What more could they want?!
"Why Do You Yell At The TV?"
"What Happened When You Die?"
It's so hard to explain to a child the concept of death. If you have particular religious or spiritual beliefs, it can be even more difficult to explain what life and death mean, and what happens when a person dies. And even if you do come up with a kid-sized answer, then dinosaurs come into the picture, and crime and violence and sickness, and soon, no matter how hard you try to be concise, clear, and non-scary, it just gets hazy to explain to a child why death happens in a way that makes it seem like it's OK.
Oh... I hope you weren't expecting me to have a good answer for this problem. Nope. Good luck, champs!
"Can I Help Clean?"
LOL, just kidding; This obviously never happens. And even if your little kid does offer to "help," let's be honest: Toddlers suck at cleaning. But we have to let them because it teaches a good lesson. If a toddler cleaning didn't result in tornadic damage, this would actually be a great. However, the good intentions of children are often rivaled by their ability to conjure filth in even the cleanest of corners. The execution of a child cleaning often results in the need for bleach, a leaf blower, and vodka, though their willingness to help should most definitely be encouraged. Just like the rest of their beautiful, annoying, dumb, awesome questions.