Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Why, why, why?

The "Why Stage" is upon us. Specifically, it's upon George. I find that "why" questions fall into three main types: Genuine requests for information; Stalling/obedience evasion/to hold your attention; Reflex (a.k.a. nonsensical). I have endless patience with the first. I'm a born teacher, and give me an enquiring mind and you've made me a happy woman. The second class I largely ignore. The third class can be the funniest by far. We approach the post office, and I announce the obvious: "This is the post office." To which George responds with a knee-jerk, "Why?" Completely nonsensical, of course. But it amuses me, so I decide to prod him a little on this one. I echo his question back to him. "Why, George? Do you mean 'Why is it the post office?'" I expect that he'll see it as a bizarre question, but no, he's still in reflex-why mode. "Yes.Why?" I decide I'll throw it back to him and see how he fields it. "Good question. How about you tell me: Why is it the post office, George?" He pauses, and a look of consternation crosses his face. I think he's suddenly actually heard himself. Then his face clears and confidence returns. "Because it just is."

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