Another instalment in our regular parenting column, by advisor, writer and mother of three Orla Breeze.
I have a talker. The kind of talker who could just keep on talking ’til the cows come home. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. She would first talk to the farmer about bringing the cows home – and somehow persuade him that she’s the best person for the job – then talk to said cows until every last one was safely in their barn. She likes a good chat.
But with all that talking comes a whole lot of questions – all aimed in my direction. You know the kind. Why is the sky blue? Why are rainbows multicoloured? Who were the first people on Earth? (I told her nobody knows for sure. She suggested I google it.) Why do I have to go to bed earlier than my sister? Why are you going out without me? No topic is off limits and answers are both expected and required. It’s exhausting.
My son was similar, although a lot of his questions centred around how things work, which meant I could get away with feigning ignorance and telling him to go ask his father. The others I duly answered. (He was my first child. I had more enthusiasm back then.) Plus, he stopped asking once he discovered the fun of finding out for himself.
However, 15 years into the joy job that is parenting, my enthusiasm has severely waned and I find myself in a situation where I need to ask for breaks. Yes. At the age of 46, I regularly need to ask a 10-year-old for breaks. This wasn’t how I saw my parenting life rolling out. But I have no choice. My patience is now thinner than a pancake and at severe risk of breaking. It has to stop!
“But how?” I hear you cry. How do we cure this insatiable appetite our kids have for knowing everything? Do we really have to foster that within them? Would it be remiss of us to curtail it a little from time to time? Confine it to school hours, for example? Only allow questions on a Friday when we have a glass of wine in our hand? Simply refuse to answer? Would that be so terrible? Surely not. You know, if we all worked together on this, I’m pretty sure we could put a positive spin on it. Start a rumour that it’s the best way to improve their research skills maybe? That answering their unending questions is bad for their brains?
Okay, so maybe that’s taking things a leetle bit far, but there has to be a way they can retain their inquisitive minds while we retain our sanity. I still think a group effort is in order, too; we’re in this together, right? All for one and one for all? Yeah?
Great, because I have cunning plan. And it goes like this. Every time we hear the infernal “Why?” we shall simply reply with one of the following two phrases: “Because I said so” or “I’ll tell you when you’re older”. And that’s it. Choose one, stick with it and watch the results. It’s the “cure for why” we’ve all been searching for. Besides, it’s the one my own mother used successfully on me and my eight siblings.
And if it worked for us – possibly the most inquisitive people on the planet (and when I say inquisitive, I may very well mean nosey) – it’ll work for anyone. Yes, anyone! Why? Well, there’s really only one answer for that.
Because I said so.
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This article first appeared in the October/November 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.