When it comes to parenting, I tend to shy away from saying, "I'll never...," mainly because I hate eating crow. I focus more on what I want to do than what I refuse to do. There are a few things I'm pretty set on not doing, such as putting a TV in my girls' room before they're teenagers, but I try not to use the words "I'll never." I guess that attitude comes from experience and age. Being an older mom who used to teach first grade, I know situations arise that you don't expect and your "never" suddenly turns into "just this once."
One phrase that I often hear parents claim they will never say to their kids is "because I said so." Anytime I hear a parent proclaim they won't say it or think it's wrong to say it, I silently laugh to myself. While I refused to say I would never say it, I did not think I would say it as often as my parents did. Like many naïve parents, I decided I would carefully explain and leave it at that. How wrong I was.
You see, I didn't expect my 4-year-old's nonstop questions which would push me to the edge, resulting in "because I said so."
It started when Ginny was three. I would ask her to clean her room. She would ask "why?" I would explain why she needed to pick up all her toys. She'd respond, "but why?" Again, I would respond the best I could. After 10 exchanges of this (or more), I'd reach my breaking point and say, "because I said so." There are only so many times you can answer the same question. And, funny thing, it worked.
Now that Ginny's four, she still loves asking questions about anything and everything. This past spring, we discussed the rain.
"Mommy, why is it raining? Again?"
I thought about grabbing her dad to answer this question (being a meteorologist and all he could give her a real answer), but I attempted to tell her on my own.
"Well, the flowers, trees, grass, and plants need rain to grow. So, it rains."
"But why? It keeps raining. Why?" Ginny asked in a pleading voice.
"During the spring it rains a lot so everything will grow," I responded.
Ginny didn't look satisfied. "Why? Why is it raining today?"
Not sure what to say, I went to a standby answer that sometimes works. "I guess God thinks we need the rain."
"Why does He think we need rain, Mommy?"
"Because He wants all the flowers, plants, grass, and trees to grow."
Ginny considered my answer then asked, "why?"
Inside I took a deep sigh. After a conversation that never seemed to end, I resorted to "because that's how it is, Ginny."
"Because I said so."
There. There it was. My response in times when I can only answer a question so many times. (And you may think our conversation was a quick one to push me to this point, but keep in mind we have this same conversation every time it rains.)
My daughter is curious, willful, and wants to know why everything happens in the world. In fact, "why?" is her favorite question. We try to answer all her questions and will even follow-up by looking something up on the internet or reading her a book on the topic.
No matter what we do, though, there are days she is never satisfied with our answers. She will continue asking. In fact, there are days when I think she only talks in questions. On days like these, I do say "because I said so," a lot. I'm not ashamed that I use the phrase. It helps end non-stop question sessions on the same topic.
I'm also more understanding of my parents and why they said it. I'm sure I was just like my daughter, never fully satisfied with the answers my mom and dad would give me. So, just like me, they'd reach the end of their patience and respond, "because I said so." After all, as parents, we do what's needed to maintain some sort of sanity in this crazy thing called parenthood.