I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but Will has entered into a phase for which I was not fully prepared. Every parent talks about it, but you can never really know what it’s like until you’ve gone through it yourself.
I’m referring, of course, to the “Why Phase.”
Will asks a lot of questions, which is a great and wondrous thing. He inquires about each and every thing he sees and hears. As a journalist who makes a living by doing the exact same thing, it warms my heart. And just like his scribe father, Will refuses to accept the information given to him at face value. So every single time I answer a question, no matter how complete my responses are, I get the same thing from Will.
Most of the time I think this is great. I’m thrilled to see him so curious about the world around him and I’m eager to answer his questions. But after he asks “why” for the 3,498th consecutive time, it can get a little tedious and I need to get him an answer he’s satisfied with or else my head will explode.
For instance, I was relaxing on the couch one night after a long day of work and up trots Will. For a reason only a 2.5-year-old brain could possibly comprehend, Will was very concerned that I wasn’t wearing any pants. Here is the the conversation that followed:
“Dad, where are your pants?”
“They’re in the dirty clothes pile.”
“Because I took them off after work.”
“So I could be comfortable.”
“Because after a long day at work I like to relax on the couch in my boxers.”
“I guess I just feel a little more free. I don’t know. Your mom doesn’t really like it but it’s how I relax and unwind. I think she just hates it if she catches me with my hand in my pants scratching my…uh, anyways. The point is I don’t think I should have to censor myself in my own house.”
“Because even though your mom makes more money than I do, I still work two jobs and I pay the mortgage too. Although sometimes I don’t know why we bother.”
“Because this place is falling apart. Not to mention we bought it at the height of the real estate market and got suckered into an awful exotic mortgage. Now we can’t refinance, I get more calls from creditors than friends and family and some days I think about packing us all up, leaving this place and moving to western Mass. to live in the mountains.”
“Because that’s where mom and dad went to college and we loved it.”
“Because college was four years of booze, pot, frequent random hookups and general irresponsibility the likes of which I’ll never experience ever again.”
“Because I’m married, have a mortgage and spend most of my time answering questions from an adorable little boy named Will.”
“I know. I named you.”
“Sweet Jesus. If I go put my pants on will you stop asking me why?”
“OK then, deal.”
I think every parent on Earth will enjoy this video from one of my favorite comedians, Louie ck, who absolutely nails the “Why Phase” in this video.