But WHY?

These are the words that bounce continuously off the unpainted walls of our not-so-new house, loudly and with a whiny desperation that is particularly annoying: “But WHY?”

Between Joe and I, we must say it 30 times a day. That’s right. In this house the inquisition is being conducted not by the toddler but by the parents. Maya hasn’t actually entered the “why” stage yet. Why? Apparently we have a year to go before the barrage of “why is the sky blue” questions illuminate our unfortunate deficiency in elementary science.

“But WHY” has become our constant and completely ineffective response to her impromptu (and short lived) refusal to use the potty before going to open gym last week, her sudden use of American Gladiator moves on our cat, and every other confounding new thing she does.

Typically we try to be so patient, so understanding, but lately it seems that her independence and creativity have merged in the most diabolical way possible. Of course, that is not fair. She’s just testing boundaries, right? But take today, for example. I set Maya up with her big box of colors and a favorite color book in order to buy Elliot enough time to nurse and snuggle for a bit. For about ten minutes all was well. Then, just as Elliot paused to blow a few milk bubbles and smile joyfully at me with that endearing “oh good, you’re here too” smile that accompanies most of her 200 meals a day, Maya disappears.

“Maya come down here,” I calmly say, not wanting to upset Elliot who is going in for seconds.

“I’m getting Anakin a snack,” she calls, and I assume she’s into the drawer in the kitchen where we keep the cat treats… fine.

“Not too many, he could get a tummy ache. Come down here now, and I’ll help you open them.”

Silence.

“Maya?”

Silence.

Then, after a minute or so: “Don’t worry Mama, I’m just going to get the uh, um, um… the play dough.”

Crap, that’s above the counter. I have to carefully interrupt Elliot’s lunch without losing an appendage, and by the time I get upstairs, Maya is trying to figure out how to get down from the counter via Elliot’s exersaucer (not the most stable piece of furniture, given that it is shaped like a bouncing saucer!).

“But WHY? Why didn’t you ask for help?” I ask when she sees my look of horror and explains again about her need for play dough.

She just stares back at me and sweetly states the obvious. “Um, cause I just wanted some play dough for something.”

The motivation, the why, is simply lost on her. She can offer no explanation. The mood struck, and she reacted. I have to remind myself that instead of asking why, I’ll simply have to tell her how she should have pursued her little mission. And from now on, I may have to lock all of us in the playroom when Elliot needs to eat!

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