I have a constant (relentless) stream of commentary in my life from my exuberant two-year-old. We have recently hit the WHY stage, a stage other parents had told (warned) me about.
My day usually starts with me trying very hard to respectfully and earnestly answer his questions in a patient and kind way befitting the kind of parent I like to imagine I am before reality smacks me in the face.

For example:

The Toddler picks up the back of an earring: “Was that?”
Me: “It’s the back of an earring”
“Was that?”
“It holds the earring in your ear so the earring doesn’t fall out of your ear”
“Why do you not want an earring to fall out? Because you’d lose it”
“No WHY?”
“Why would you wear an earring? Because earrings look nice”
“Because they can be shiny or pretty or have colours. You like your shoes because they look cool. Mumma likes her earrings because they look cool”

By the end of the day the conversation is:

“Was that?”
“I dunno Eddie it’s a thing”
“It just is”

Sometimes I end up having an existential crisis trying to work out how to answer him.

“Was that?”
“A razor”
“What you doing?”
“Shaving my legs”
“Because…I…ummm I don’t like them hairy”
“I umm…well…patriarchial standards of beauty dictate…ummm probably subconscious societal pressures..I am…mummy is a feminist but…there’s…well…”
“Was that?” *points to piece of fluff on the ground*

“What choo doing dear mama?” is heard around 67,000 times a day in my whare. I have started to provide a gratingly chipper commentary myself to attempt to pre-empt his interrogation:

“Mama is making a coffee”
“Mama is soaking onesies after a poo explosion!”
“Mama is rocking and shushing and singing to the baby”
“Mama is trying to get you to eat just one thing that isn’t a biscuit”
“Mama is losing her will to live”
“Mama is imagining Jason Mamoa naked changing the sheets on the bed” (I’m too tired to even imagine anything more than that and frankly not having to change the sheets is quite a turn on in itself)

STILL even though I’m providing constant updates, I get WAS THAT? WHAT CHOO DOING? WHY?

And don’t toddlers just have a wonderful way of expressing themselves in public when they practice their language skills? A while back I changed his nappy in the back of the car because he refuses to go into a public toilet without freaking out. The next day I told him we would need to do a nappy change and he yelled in the middle of the Warehouse:


All of these alarmed shoppers stared at me. I tried to explain but it just came out as “I don’t…I mean I put him in the boot once…but I was…He wasn’t in the boot….”

Last week – his father yelled from the shower that the water had gone cold. I couldn’t hear him over the sound of the shower so he yelled to Eddie: “Tell mama the shower is cold!” Eddie has decided to inform every single person we have met since that day: “My deddy did yell at my dear mama and he did yell vewy loud at her. Den he did yell at Eddie vewy loud and he did yell at us a lot”.

We tried to explain there is “bad yelling” which is angry. And “raised voices because you can’t hear because it’s noisy, like when someone is in the shower”. That of course turned into telling strangers: “My deddy said Eddie not say he yelling but he done yell”.

Thanks kid.

So I figure I’m just going to be more like my kid and just start relentlessly harrassing everyone by asking WHY WHY WHY all the time. I thought I’d start with a list (because everyone likes lists right?) Here’s the QUESTIONS THAT ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO ANSWER MAMA EDITION:

  • Why do toilets with change tables have hair dryers in them? They may as well have an actual fire in there. Kids would be less terrified.
  • How is it that babies KNOW when you pour a glass of wine? You can time it perfectly with feeds but as soon as the parent juice (oh dear God that sounds revolting but I’m going to keep it) hits the glass they’re like “you rang?” Except instead of saying that they just scream as if they’re being tortured.
  • Would you get jail time if you hit your partner with a shovel for saying “baby slept well last night?” in the morning when you woke up 800 times? Or would the judge see that as justifiable?
  • Is there a line you can cross with food bribery? The other day I told my son I would buy him a lawnmower if he had one more bite of his toast. They’re like $800.
  • Are people who buy toddlers Dora the Explorer sticker sets that have 10,000 stickers in them actually the Antichrist? Rhetorical question obviously – they are.
  • Where did you put the pegs???
  • How do kids have a shedload of toys and yet they have a meltdown if you chuck out the empty tissue box because that’s their “favroit waaaan”. HOW DO THEY NOTICE THAT YOU THREW IT AWAY? Or is that just mine? Please say it’s not just mine?

Finally – do you think they time out their best lines for maximum impact? The other night I was so tired, almost to the point of tears, and the toddler climbed on my lap and said “fank you dear mama for keep Eddie safe and love Eddie”.


I will buy you a lawnmower my love. And replace the tissue box. And I promise I’ll never put you in the boot again.


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33 Comments on “Why?

  1. Both my children have a 100% record of knowing when I’ve dished up ice cream.

    And ice cream frickin MELTS when you leave it to go and feed a baby! Evolution is not working for us on this one.

  2. Ha ha ha! Yes! Totally relate. I have done plenty of boot nappy changes myself. This is funny and moving and such great writing. Love the way you capture all of the love as well as all of the frustration in life with little ones x

    • Thanks Abi x Boot nappy changes make sense right? Because no hair dryers of death.

  3. We aren’t quite at the why stage yet but my 18 month old tried to wipe my bum today when I went to the loo yelling “wipe bum mummy! Hazel helpful” (Cause I dont know a mother of small children who can go to the loo alone and I hate who invented sliding doors)
    Little too helpful for me.

    I am not looking forward to the why stage…

    • When do they grow out of the watching you wee stage? Before I had kids I said I’d never be one of those parents but now I’m just like, fine whatever, grab a seat – just be quiet. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to pee without an audience.

  4. Anna, your comment meant my cuppa went up my nose! Definitely “all the help you need” and then some… Perhaps a door barrier might be called for – if you screw small bracket wotsits in to hold them in, the kids can’t push them over… or cabin hooks. Cabin hooks up high were my freinds….
    Our station wagon was a godsend for nappy changing twins – though it is amazing what they can reach when they’re lying down (yes, including finding the car jack thingy, which I can never get out!) I’m laughing out loud with memories – now my boys are eleven, I instead have to cope with intense discussions about Pokemon, Mine craft, Doctor Who and the Discworld (‘cos geek families have a better class of conversation?!) and woe betide the mother who cannot recall the difference between Pipluk and the Ood… You have SOOOO much to look forward to 😉

    • The Jack had me laughing! I often get lost imagining what type of teen Eddie will be. Once I was looking at some skaters thinking “will he be a skater? Or a jock? Or a gamer?” And suddenly this boy yelled out “take a picture you creepy old lady” ? I was 27 ?

  5. My eldest is 3. He potty trained about 6 months ago and has no trouble using either a potty or the Big Toilet at home or someone else’s house, but if I take him into a public toilet? No. Nonononono. And it’s the fucking hand drier every time. I managed to actually get him to go into the toilet at the supermarket once (we used the baby change facility because there were no other people in there and I thought that would make it okay) and I actually did manage to persuade him to use the toilet once I had used it myself to prove that it wouldn’t eat him or otherwise maim and kill him. But then we came out of the cubicle to wash our hands and I set off the hand drier. What the fuck did I do that for? Now I can’t get him to go near public toilets all over again! Gah!

    • The farken hand dryer!!! I so feel your pain. I once had to physically restrain myself from hitting someone when they turned on the hand dryer when we were about to leave. WE ALMOST MADE IT OUT AND YOU RUINED IT! I really wish I could destroy every hand dryer on the planet. My hate for hand dryers…it’s a blog post in itself.

  6. You tell a story so well – I can just picture all of these happenings! The warehouse one was my favourite hahaha.

  7. This was lovely – don’t they say the right things sometimes..
    I did want to say something about speech delay since you mentioned it in your description – 18 didn’t speak until she was at least 3.5. We had her hearing tested, her attention, adenoids, everything. She’d babble heaps and you could make out some words, but mostly it was just sounds that sounded like they could be words but weren’t. Anyway, by the time she was 4, she was speaking like a champ. Dunno what changed, she’d gone to daycare for a while, we’d spoken with her for years, but she just…waited until she was ready, I guess. Now she’s not only got English down pat, but Japanese too. Didn’t seem to hurt her a bit. Eddie is a linguist by comparison, and I think the way he uses the language is great – sometimes more fit for purpose, right? if you’re worried, by all means get some testing, but also sometimes…kids are just doing things in their own time & way. Arohanui.

    • Yeah Eddie didn’t babble or making cooing noises or any “baby noises” because he was so focused on breathing. We were very worried and there was a lot of talk about a speech delay. But then suddenly, almost overnight, he started talking and now it’s difficult to get him to stop talking. But for a while we were very worried – like you with your daughter we are very pleased with how it all turned out. It’s very strange second time around hearing baby noises! Ronnie makes the strangest noises! I do agree – all in good time aye? X

  8. Oh yes. The why stage. It lasts way too long. I found myself repeatedly saying “it just is” or “just because” throughout every hour of every day. I’m an educator by profession as well as by parenting style but there are definitely times even now when I’m just not in the mood for explaining something in detail and I give a lame shorthand answer. That despite the fact that all my kids are technically past the why stage.

    Now my kids are older, their why questions have evolved into the type that either require a lecture or have me scurrying to google and Wikipedia for an answer. Then there are the why questions that are actually disguised challenges such as “Why do we have to go to bed now?” and “why does our oldest brother get to do that and we don’t?”

    So I’m sorry to tell you that the why stage doesn’t end but merely evolves.

    In answer to your question, no you are not alone with the junk toys thing. Mine make toys out of scraps of paper. At the end of an exhausting day, I am evidently not capable of differentiating between crap scrap and beloved scrap. Often I have been the Worst Mother Ever because I put “the best thing I ever, ever made that was absolutely my most favorite toy ever” in the recycling bin.

    • So much to look forward to! I’m so glad I’m not the only one with the beloved scrap problem! ❤️

  9. You think the handdryer is bad? (Which it is) But just wait until one of those automatic flush toilets flushes on them–because of course their little baby arses are not big enough to register as a live human. Years of trauma.

    I remember once my eldest (now five), who had a dramatic lisp that has now declined to “adorable,” kissed me on the face in a crowded, crowded Brooklyn bus, and then loudly shouted, “Mamma, your face smells like vagina!” This is possibly the most embarrassing thing the child of two lesbians can shout on the bus.

    Weeks later we discovered that “vagina” was her lisped attempt at “granola,” but at the time . . .

    • ???? I’m dying! You win.thats amazing hahaha!!
      I think an automatic flush toilet would break my son. At most loud noises his reaction is usually a terrified “was that noise????” Followed by leaping into my arms and breaking my back.

    • oh good god, that is the FUNNIEST thing I have heard today.
      I have two kids, 4 and nearly 2. I *love* the learning new words stage. It is the most adorable thing in the whole bloody world. Especially combined with lisps and/or an inability to pronounce ‘L’s.

      We’ve had one automatic flushing experience, and the wee went, well, everywhere as my kid lept off the toilet faster than I’ve ever seen her move in her 4 yrs.

      • I love the way they mix up words. And the way they fall over their words when they’re excited. It’s adorable! They’re such quick learners too! I love the way they think – you can see their little minds churning. When we went to the zoo Eddie was terrified of the emus – he was saying “go away emus!” But they kept ignoring him. Then he suddenly yelled “Haere atu emus!” Like maybe they don’t speak English and that’s why they weren’t listening ?

  10. And why do they have to put the hand dryers so flaming close to the changing table that you can’t avoid setting them off!

    My favourite part of the why conversation has taken about a year to reach but is currently my favourite 3 words in the English language. We’ll be having the whole ‘but why mummy?’ conversation when suddenly say ‘oh I see’ like it all suddenly makes sense and the world is a better place for it. The silence last for a maximum of a minute (if I’m lucky) before the next barrage of questions start. That minute though, worth its weight in gold!

    • Yes I love that too! Don’t even get me started on the positioning of hand dryers. My son once walked underneath one and it went off on his head – instant trauma. Aghhhh!

  11. Seriously love your blog! My kids are old but I can still relate. Why? Why? Why? Just because!! Personally I’d like to know how the dogs know when I’m opening up my tub of peanut M&Ms. They might be anywhere in the house or yard but they come running. Dog and kids – I think they’re psychic.

    • Thank you! And yes, dogs and kids = a lot of similarities! Definitely psychic. Kids also only seem to sleep in on mornings when you have an early appointment. It’s like telepathy or something ?

  12. Recently discovered you. Love you. Love the people who comment on here. Love it all. Miss 22 months is napping and it’s a freaking nice hot day and I’ve poured a wine (not that I need an excuse to pour a wine, but ya know…) and I better get back to it because we all know she’ll wake up in like 5 seconds now, but this blog, plus the wine, has made my afternoon amaze. p.s. She’s still more of a babbler than a talker, and some of the comments here have strengthened my resolve to just chill and let it unfold 🙂 New fan here!

    • Thanks so much Hollie. That is such a nice thing to say! It’s freezing here. I try not to give parenting advice because gah! Who freaking needs it. But I will say in my limited experience I’ve found things can change in an instant and what is a worry one week (or a few weeks or months) can resolve itself almost over night! I can’t wait for warmer weather (and a wine or ten).

  13. This is the best giggle, no make that LAUGH, I’ve had in a long time!!

    Mine are 24 and 26 now, and I still remember the “WHY” stage, followed quickly by the “HOW” stage, which then evolved into the “WHY & HOW” stage. There are still times they will ask a question that I wish I could just answer -because-

    Why do birds fly south?
    Because nature tells them to.
    How does nature tell them to.
    I don’t know honey.
    Mommy isn’t a bird doctor honey (yes lame but they were 2 and 3 lol)
    Why isn’t Mommy a bird doctor?
    No why they fly?

    Because they hate the snow and cold baby, now go to sleep

  14. I read (Steven Pinker) that kids who hear two languages from birth often take longer to speak, processing all that complexity and then just one day out it all comes. The auto toilet flusher WTF! I would like to suggest that all architects take a course in child physchology (i am one… we’re the ones responsible for where the hand dryer is or isn’t.

  15. “Would you get jail time if you hit your partner with a shovel for saying “baby slept well last night?” in the morning when you woke up 800 times? Or would the judge see that as justifiable?”
    Yes, yes, a million times yes. Or no, no jail time.
    What about when your partner complains about how tired they are the next day and then takes a nap mid-afternoon? Meanwhile you were also awake the three times you woke them up to change nappies (because you still hurt too much from birthing their child to climb out of bed yourself), then listened to them snore for several more hours while cluster feeding.

    Also, in response to the main thrust of your post:
    My lazy-parenting default response to my three year old’s “Why?” is “Why do you think?” That usually results in a rather long tale that I can half listen to.

  16. A couple of months ago I was in a public bathroom with my 3 year old and another woman came out of the stalls, washed her hands, looked at my child, and dried her hands on her jeans, saying “I won’t turn it on because I remember how much my kids hated the noise of the hand dryers.”

    That stranger remains one of my favourite people of all time.