The 5 Ws Epidemic

Growing up, I believe it is safe to say that my brother and I were inquisitive little buggers. Like pretty much every kid under the sun, we asked questions all day long, day in and day out until we (and by we I totally mean my brother) broke the proverbial camel’s back, causing my dad to put strict limitations on the number of “What’s” that could be uttered in a day. No joke. I have no idea how old I was when this family law came into place, and again, to be honest totally-throw-my-brother-under-the-bus, I’m pretty sure it was mostly directed at him and not me, but it was Moore Family Law for sure.

Now, the limit, in case you are curious, was three. My dad also has a rule that there are no more stops than three on an errand run, and you best believe that in either case, the man means what he says; these rules are like a lyric to the Jim Croce song, “You Don’t Mess around with Jim” – simple but true. No, you should not tug on Superman’s cape and no, you should not ask my dear father to hit more than three stores in one go. So, back to the questions…you were allotted your three “Whats???” a day, and once you used them up, my dad was done dealing. No more answers, my friends. No dice. To help us learn how to craft the best questions (and as a fair warning that your limit was drawing near – and perhaps because he maybe just didn’t want to answer that particular question) my dad had a catchphrase he would throw out if he thought the current question that had just been lobbed his way seemed subpar; he would calmly ask (with a sly grin on his face), “Are you sure you want to use that ‘what’?” Guaranteed we actually heard this phrase more than “You’re out of ‘whats'” and decades later it is still a family joke whenever someone gets quizzical during a conversation – they start to get asked about just how sure they are in the asking. Perhaps this is what made my brother so interested later in life in debate and politics? As for me, well, now that I am a parent myself, I think it is flat-out frickin’ genius and I have got to figure out how to implement it with the 5 and Under Crowd because holy moly cow, we have a 5 Ws epidemic in our house right now.

Main abuser of questions? This girl:

Don’t let her pint-sized cuteness and adorable pattern mixing confuse you. She is a question-asking-beast! And we’re not even talking about a million unique questions a day – that I would actually welcome. Oh, no. Miss Raegan has taken to asking the same question at least 20x in a row before she takes a breath and then asks it another 20x, just for *ahem* fun. And this is not because I am ignoring or limiting her questions. I answer if not after the first inquiry, then the second for sure. But even if I respond in her favor, (“Why, yes dear, you can have animal crackers!” “Sure! Let’s watch Curious George.“) she just. KEEPS. ASKING! What is that (beyond incredibly frustrating)?! Is this just a Three thing that I blocked from when HD was this age? I get it that if I tell her “no” about something she might think that I might change my mind if she just keeps asking (ha! the logic of a Little!), but when I agree or give consent and she just keeps going? Is she trying to drive her poor mother batty?!

Last night, at dinner, Ben tried to explain to RL that she needs to say, “Excuse me,” before she interrupts a conversation or what a grownup is doing to ask a question. All very well and good and sweet and cute sounding until, again, you’ve heard the phrase “Excuse me,” followed by the same damn question 20x in a row. And then you start to recall the wisdom of your own father and the Magical Limit of Three and you wonder, hope, and plot for ways to make it a capital-L Law in your own house. And then you realize, good luck. The child is Three with a capital Th which means if you try to enforce this now, you’ll just have to repeat it 20x, take a breath, and then say it 20x (ad nauseam) and she still won’t hear you.

Please, I beg of you. If you see me any time soon, ask no more than three questions in the course of our conversation!

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Posted in RL

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