Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Why and Yesterday

Kate has had a couple verbal/cognitive milestones lately that I don't want to forget: incessant asking of "why?" and use of the term "yesterday."

The stereotype of small children asking "why?" over and over again is so cliche that I don't think I really believed it was as extreme as it is made out to be. But oh my goodness, it's unbelievable. And sometimes exhausting. I think it was 6-8 weeks ago or so that this innocent-sounding three-letter word became standard vocabulary, leading to conversations like this:

Me: Kate, let's put on your pants.
Kate: Why?
Me: Because you have to wear bottoms.
Kate: Why?
Me: Because you can't go to school (church, the zoo, wherever) nakey.
Kate: Why?

Some exchanges make less sense:

Kate: What's that?
Me: Cheese (it was brie, which is why she wouldn't recognize it as such)
Kate: Why?
Me: ...That's just what it is.
Kate: Why?
Me: Because... milk curdled and ... they learned it tasted good?

And I've shamefully discovered just how many "whys" have no good answer beyond "that's just the way we do things," reminding me how many things in life are culture-bound or just a matter of habit. (Matt has been trying to bring this to my attention for years, when I insist that things are to be a certain way.)

Sometimes turning the question around on her ends the interrogation, since she'll typically just respond "I don't know."

She has also hit a milestone lately in terms of understanding--to some extent--the concept of time, or at least the concept of past and future. "Yesterday" means any time in the past, we've learned. And trust me, it can be confusing at first until you learn that a visit to Louisville a month ago counts as "yesterday" every bit as much as something we actually did in the previous 24-48 hours. Occasionally, "tomorrow" is also used to indicate something in the future, but she mainly talks about past events.

"Yesterday I had ice cream with Popi and we matched." 
(Huh? Oh yeah, a month ago when we were in Louisville, we got ice cream and you and Popi both had the same flavor of ice cream.)

"I saw elephants and giraffes at the zoo yesterday."
(No, we didn't... but oh yes, we did several weeks ago.)

I love to hear her retelling of things we've done. She's developing memories, and I love to hear what she remembers. Like Popi and the ice cream.


Katie Bug said...

Isn't it so fun to hear what they remember?!
Katelyn is a big fan of 'why', too. We hear that word a lot in our house.
Overgeneralizations are cute, too...until your talking to a first grader who is still using 'yesterday' to refer to any event in the past. Not so cute, then!
Katelyn's most used overgeneralization right now is 'two'. When that number comes out of her mouth it often means 'more than one'.

Kristen P said...

... reminds me of this!

from Louis CK's now defunct HBO sitcom "Lucky Louie"

Jessica Miller Kelley said...

That's a funny clip. It's so true how those "why" conversations can devolve into craziness. Or passive aggression, like when the "why" question is "Why have you been up with me since 5:30 on a Saturday morning and Daddy's still in bed at nine?" I'm not a nice person when responding to that.

Rochelle said...

My nephew is going through the same thing. Constantly asking 'Why' .


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