Being a parent is a daily discovery of your child’s personality and temperament, as well as how you parent with that in mind.
Some children are born with the “No!” gene – the first word they learn to use, and then use it really well. Some kids enter their toddler years with the question “Why?” to everything from why the grass is green to why the sky is blue. I’ve even seen books published specifically to help parents through this phase.
My youngest, however, entered the “What if?” stage of her curious life, and she has yet to out-grow it. Perhaps she’s just an anxious child, wanting to know all the possible scenarios beforehand. I see that when she enters new situations, the need for her to have all bases covered just in case. Some “What if?” questions are safety related – What if I can’t find you? What if I forget to ride the bus? What if someone comes up to me? Some questions don’t really need answers, in my opinion, but she wants them anyway: What if she isn’t in my class next year? What if it rains on the weekend? What if we miss our plane?
These endless questions can drive me crazy because inevitably one “What if?” leads to another. A friend told me that I should answer them with my own questions back to her, but I’ve found that this only frustrates her and then, ultimately, me. Giving her an answer such as “It won’t happen” or “I don’t know” doesn’t suffice, either. She wants a real response.
But she stumped me not long ago, and I broke (into laughter, that is). Going up the stairs in a dingy, smelly stairwell that she didn’t want to go in, she said to me, “What if these stairs were dead chickens, would you go up them then?” Ok then, I have no answer for that one. It does make me ever curious to know how her mind works, though.
This scenario has actually helped us in recent weeks. If I don’t have an answer to yet another “What if” question, I can simply throw it back at her with a “What if these stairs were dead chickens…” and we all start to laugh. Maybe she’ll start to realize that sometimes you just have to have faith and wing it. Or that sometimes, Mom just doesn’t have an answer.