Monday, May 16, 2011

Toby's Quest for the First Cause

Somewhere around age three Naomi and Hannah each began occasionally asking the question, "Why?" It was sporadic, and appropriate for certain circumstances, and a thorough answer would usually satisfy their thirst to know. To my recollection the question, "Why?" has never come out of Emma's mouth.

Tomorrow Toby will turn two years, three months old, and his new favorite word is already, "Why?" The first time I heard him ask it, about a week ago, I couldn't believe he really knew what he was asking, but he did. And now my days are filled trying to give him short, concise answers or long, complicated answers, but nothing satisfies this boy's thirst for knowledge.

"No, Toby," I'll say as he scrambles into the minivan's driver's seat for the zillionth time and clutches the steering wheel with all his might, "you sit back here, in Toby's car seat."

He will look up at me with big, brown, wondering eyes, and ask in the sweetest, most honest voice, "Why? Why, Mommy?"

"Because Mommy has to drive the van, you're not old enough yet."

"Why? Why, Mommy, Why?"

It doesn't matter what I answer, he will continue asking and asking. He used to go to bed so peacefully, but now when I announce that it's bedtime he answers, "Why, Mommy?"

"Because it's late at night, and you're getting sleepy."

"Why, Mommy?"

"Because the sun is going down."


"Because the earth is rotating."

"Why, why, Mommy, why?"

Until I eventually am backed into either, "Because I said so," or "Because that's the way God made it, " or simply, "enough, Toby, you can't possibly understand right now, just go to sleep."

Sometimes I crawl into bed and realize my mind can do the same thing..."Why? Why, God, does my family seem more like a science experiment than household? Why, God, did I have to tell Naomi I couldn't stop her pain? Why, does everything have to be so hard for Emma? Why, God, Why?" And maybe God sent me Toby, just so I could hear God answer me through my own answers to my child, "Enough, you can't possibly understand right now, just go to sleep."

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