My 3-year-old is terrible at answering questions. Just this morning I asked her, “Katie, where are your shoes?”
Her response: “I showed Gary (next-door neighbor) my new shoes.”
I tried again: “Do you know where those new shoes are?”
“I like Gary," she said. "And I like Rufus the dog. He licked my face on the porch.”
“Kate, honey, go get your shoes.”
Conversations like this are why, more often than not, I end up running through the house, hunting for her shoes at the exact moment we should be walking out the door. It’s so much easier and less brain boggling to just shimmy myself under her bed and extricate the shoes myself. After all, there’s only so much asinine conversation one person can engage in before just giving up and figuring out the answer themselves.
The kid has a few go-to phrases she throws out like a politician who’s wholly unable to give a direct answer. They are the equivalent of “I don’t know” mixed together with confused defiance, but she doles them out on the daily with great generosity.
“BECAUSE I DO.”
When I asked her why she colored on the wall, she said, “Because I do.”
“OK, honey, but why? Why would you do that when you know we only color on paper?”
She gives an adorable shrug and says, “Because I do.”
Hmm...perhaps I should adapt her laid back, super-chill variation of "I don’t know." Maybe I’ll curl up under my desk and take a nap at work. When my boss inquires as to why I’m sleeping on the dusty tile, I’ll just shrug and say, “Because I do.” He’s a laid back guy, so I’ll probably get at least one more chance to explain before being sent to HR. Once there, I’ll attempt to pull off my super adorable “Because I do” routine, but it will surely result in my belongings being packed into a brown box because, as it turns out, it’s not adorable on me.
“BECAUSE I WANT TO.”
“Kate, honey, that isn’t your drink. Leave that glass alone, please.”
Fast forward to three minutes later, when I look at her and she’s got my cup in between her paws and she’s guzzling down my last sip of Diet Coke.
“What are you doing? Mommy said no. Why would you do that?”
“Because I want to.”
“That doesn’t matter. You have to listen, OK?”
“OK. Sorry, mommy.” She smiles sweetly and nods, but we both know in another hour, she’ll be uttering that phrase yet again in another similar situation.
“BECAUSE I SAY.”
She uses this utterance in an abstract way. An older, more sophisticated youth might wield this phrase in a dictatorial fashion. Not my kid. She throws it out at random where is doesn’t really make sense. Part of me wonders if she’s trying to confuse me on purpose. An example of how she uses it:
“Kate, honey, pick up your toys.”
“Katie? Baby, please clean up your mess.”
“Because I say.”
“Katherine, you will pick up your toys right now or you will go to your room.”
“But I say, mommy. I say.”
And the kid says it with so much earnest emotion, as if that phrase actually means something, that I can’t even get mad. In her mind, I think she thinks that sentence is a legitimate coupon or free pass to opt out of an undesirable activity.
I might just use that one, too. Next time the kids want me to cook them dinner or, more realistically, phone in our pizza order, I’ll just say I can’t.
“Why not, mom?”
“Because I say. I say.”
Lynn Kirkle is a writer and lives in Omaha with her husband and five children. She writes twice a month for momaha.com, and can be found on Twitter @LAPainter.