Asking the Hard Hitting Questions

The Why Phase: Three Years Old and Asking the Tough Questions

Carefree Lila

Lila is in the why phase. Which should really more accurately called the why, why, why, TELL ME ABOUT IT, why phase. Most of the time this results in questions like:

– why does the sun set?

– why does Lucy not know the alphabet?

– why is that dog walking there?

-why does Cal not wear pants?

We listen to NPR on our commute and the other day Lila asked what the man on the radio was talking about. It was a story about the Ebola outbreak in Africa. I tried to explain it to her in 3 year old terms – people were sick, doctors were trying to help them, Africa was far away from Seattle. It seemed like she was satisfied with this set of responses, until yesterday.

“Mommy, tell me about the people who are sick in the other place.” After realizing what she was asking about, I used the same approach as last time, but she was clearly concerned.

“They should wash their hands to get rid of the germs.” I agreed that this was a great tactic and that Africa had different living conditions than Seattle, which was contributing to the epidemic.

“What if people come on an airplane to Seattle?” I promised that wouldn’t happen and told her we did not have Ebola germs in Seattle.

“What germs do we have in Seattle?” We discussed cold and flu, sang the Daniel Tiger “rest is best” song.

As we pulled into the driveway, she seemed content with the topic and ready to end the discussion, when she thought of something else. “Mommy, I don’t want to leave you and Daddy and go live with God.” I agreed that she should stay with us for a while and that she wouldn’t “go live with God” for a long time.

I don’t know how she made the connection between the Ebola epidemic and death. It makes me sad for her to be so weighed down with such thoughts. I know she doesn’t really¬†get the idea of death (or worldwide health crises) but that she’s contemplating any of this is not something I anticipated happening so soon. She’s a little kid, with big giant questions, many of which I just can’t answer. Here’s hoping she goes back to asking about Cal wearing pants again soon.



  1. The live with God thing came from discussions I had about where her Great Nana lives (now that she is no longer living). Lila also expressed her desire that Dah (my maternal grandfather, Great Nana’s husband) not go live with God just yet. She wants him to keep living in Virginia. So I think she gets death at least in practical terms–it means that you aren’t physically present anymore–and she is a bit overwhelmed by the concept.
    I am confident that the vast majority of the time, though, she’s thinking more about the color of the sky and the movement patters of temporarily stationary dogs.

  2. grandpa mark says:

    You guys are doing great with her. But the questions will get harder. By the way if you find why Calhoun doesn’t wear pants; I would like yo know too!

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