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But Why?

by in Family and Faith

It’s official: another major mothering milestone. For every statement I make, I’m challenged. “Why?” Bronson asks, like it’s his duty, his job, his purpose.

I’m one part amazed, one part exasperated. Oli, the younger, walks around touting, “What’s that?” Now Bronson takes it one step further: “But why?”

It’s an important question, no one would argue. In our house it has lead to recent discussions on chlorophyl, track and poverty. I spout off answers, trying to think of good ways to explain things. Bronson’s response to my every answer: “But why?”

It’s endless.


Recently, he looked out the window and commented that his tree had leaves! (Apparently, he owns everything within sight.) Our conversation went something like this:

B: “Why does the tree have leaves?”

Me: “Because the rain is the tree’s drink, the sun is the tree’s food. The tree is growing, so now there are leaves again.”

B: “But why?”

Me: “Because it’s spring. It’s getting hot out, and the green leaves will provide us with shade.”

B: “But why?”

Me: “Because some people can’t go inside when they get too hot, so God gives them shelter under the leaves of the tree.”

B: “But why?”

Me: “Because God is good, gracious, generous and creative.”

B: “But why?”

Me: “Because God is loving.”

B: “But why?”

Me: “Because.”

And because Bronson is a boy who loves repetition, he now asks for a similar conversation at whim. “Mama, I want to talk about the trees.” And so we start again.

Somedays I practically beg for silence. I want him to leave it be, for my sanity. Seriously, how many conversations can I have about the trees, about a track or why people are driving to a different destination down the highway?

But in the bigger picture, I want nothing left unturned. That kind of curiosity, unquenched, is revolutionary.

I try to admit when I don’t know (which of course elicits another why). I offer explanations when I can. I remind him often that his questions are good, even when my initial response is a heavy sigh (which it usually is). And I want some of the questions to remain, for him to learn that the unknown, unexplainable is still valid, still beautiful. Mystery has a place at the table of life’s purpose.

Trying to make sense of the world is part of his duty, his job, his purpose. The ‘why’ of life will always be important, and never fully answered. Since I can’t satisfy his curiosity, I might as well join him.

B: “Me hungry.”

Me: “But why?”

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