Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Game of 20 Thousand Questions

It's a gorgeous early spring day outside. We've watched the farmer next door feed the cows out back, and now Ally is playing superhero. This consists mainly of her announcing what superhero she is, thrusting her arm up in the sky and shouting "To the rescue!" at the top of her lungs, while running madly back and forth on the deck. I can't tell if the cows are impressed, but I'm not going to discourage all this activity. I don't want to start up yet another round of "Mommy?" questions.

Don't get me wrong, I try to encourage Ally to ask questions about things. I want her to learn about her world and asking questions is one way to do it. It's just when she starts repeating all my answers posed as another question that I find myself getting irritated. I'm sure anyone who has ever had a toddler can relate to this.

Ally: "Mommy!"

Me: "What, Ally?"
Ally: "Mommy....Mommy....Mommy....are those hamburger cows?"
Me: "Yes honey, the black ones are hamburger cows."
Ally: "The black ones?"
Me: "Uh huh."
Ally: "The black ones out back?"
Me: "Yep."
Ally: "Those are hamburger cows?"
Me (taking a deep breath): "Yes Ally, the black cows out back are hamburger cows."
Ally (pointing to the black cows out back): "Those ones?"
Me (sighing): "Uh huh?"
Ally (in a somewhat disappointed tone): "Oh."

You get the idea.  I'm good for the first couple of minutes of this but then my patience evaporates and I can't take the any more of the repetition.  
It can go on for what seems like forever in my irritated mind and I start asking myself if anyone actually listens to what I say.

And that's the problem, or rather it's my problem.  I can't expect Ally to process information in a logical manner because she's a toddler and toddlers tend to dwell in the world of magical thinking.  They've got to repeat questions or actions over and over again because that's how they test the world.  Maybe the toy won't fall over if they tip it over just one more time, even though it fell over the first twenty times.  Maybe those cows won't be hamburger cows if Ally asks about them just one more time.  The unending questioning is perfectly normal toddler behavior and Ally is just processing this information in her brain. 

However, I also suspect that she might do this to see how far she can push me before I get so annoyed by the unending questions that I get up and leave the room in search of Steve, in the hopes that I can punch his arm and tell him, "Tag.  You're it." 

I desperately hope that my reaction to these maddening questions is also perfectly normal parent behavior. I find myself taking solace in nature documentaries that show a beleaguered parent animal accosted one too many times by a pack of baby animals to the point that they growl, shake off the offending offspring, and stalk out of the den. I can totally relate to that.

1 comment:

e said...

Katie's a year older, and she still does this. I hate it, but what I really think is that she wants to make sure I'm really paying attention to her.

Of course, there's no better way to make me tune you out than forcing me to repeat the same thing 40 different times...