Dear little bear,
Sometimes, your questions can be…tiresome. Many children become pestersome with their use of the word “Why” but you take this trait to entirely new heights. I’ve gone down that rabbit hole of questions with you for hours. It can be both surreal and exhausting. Your trademark “But how do you KNOW?” constantly echoes in my head. This all becomes especially frustrating when you decide to be somewhat combative during your inquisitions. Before I became a parent, I had no idea arguments about the nature of snake venom would become a part of my weekly routine.
You are nothing if not persistent. “Headstrong” and “willful” are polite terms for this characteristic. But it might be more accurate to say “stubborn as an old blind mule.”
Whenever I ask you to do something, you invariably ask, “Why?” And you refuse to accept “because I said so” as a sufficient response. You want to understand my instructions and it’s difficult for you to accept a shouted, “JUST DO WHAT I SAY RIGHT NOW.” But, even when I do explain, you sometimes still decide to politely decline my instructions. For example, when you first started wearing underwear, you put them on backwards. I told you they would be more comfortable with the tag in the back but you responded defiantly, “THIS is the way I like them.” Over two years later, you still wear your underwear backwards.
And it isn’t just me you question. You’ll argue with anyone, anywhere, about anything. I’ve heard you correct the construction worker regarding the correct term for his equipment and politely suggest a better way for a repairman to do his job.
But, while these traits can be frustrating at times, I think they will be good in the long run.
Because I’ve also seen in you a kind and compassionate heart. Sharing is second nature to you. (I’ve even watched you share your BACON with other people). The suffering of others causes you great distress. You hate to see your sister in trouble and you never want her to lose a privilege. Your sense of justice is very strong.
I believe these characteristics -your compassion, inquisitiveness, and stubbornness- will all combine to form a tenacious fighter for the truth. Your mother and I jokingly refer to your “leadership potential,” but we actually believe this!
Someday, someone (maybe advertisers, maybe the government, maybe your peers, maybe someone else) will tell you to do something.
Your response will be a defiant, “Why?”
And they’ll say, “Because we say so.” (They’ll phrase it more elegantly but that will be the basic idea).
And, so, you will ask again, “…why?” And If they can’t give you a good answer, you’re just not going to do it. This might get you into trouble, perhaps something more serious than a timeout. But, when you know what’s right, you will not relent. And it will be so easy to relent! You will be constantly bombarded with lies and half-truths from corporations, political groups, and a myriad of other sources. And, when you say, “But how do you KNOW?” they’re going to get very annoyed. Much more annoyed than I do. But keep it up! Keep asking! If they’re really telling the truth, they will be willing to answer questions.
That’s why I’M going to keep answering your questions and why I plan to be patient with your…”persistence.” I have no desire to break your will or deter your inquisitiveness. I don’t want you to do what I tell you because I have mastered you and your blind obedience. I want you to trust me and know that what I tell you is true and good. Obviously, there will be times when you will simply have to do as I ask immediately. I won’t let you stand in the middle of the road while I explain the velocity of automobiles and the relative frailty of the human body. But you aren’t a dog. My job isn’t to train you to heel on command. My job is to teach you to seek the truth in love, to follow good paths, to explore creation with wonder, and to live a life of compassion and courage. So, ask away little bear. What do you want to know today?