Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Just Because

I had a largely "because that's how it is" childhood. It's not that I didn't get to do what I wanted, or that I didn't ever speak up. But there were certain things that were non-negotiable--not up for discussion, just part of how life was going to be. Perhaps I was just a malleable, accepting kid. Or perhaps there really was something fundamentally different between my childhood and the one I am giving my children.

From the time my kids were toddlers, I have joked that "we teach them to speak up, and then, by golly, they do." There is little in our household that is not a topic for discussion. Often to the point of exhaustion, I must be prepared to hash out almost every decision. "Why are we doing that?" "Do we have to?" "Can it wait a few minutes?" Clearly, I have done my job teaching my kids to speak up. The question is, how well do I do my job when they do?

Often--perhaps more often than I'd like--I fall back on the "because that's the way it is" explanation, which I would like to be enough.  Sometimes, it is. And sometimes, those things that are done "because that's the way it is" turn out to be good things. Sometimes, they expose a kid (and a parent) to experiences we might not have chosen, and sometimes, they open new doors we couldn't even see.

When I allow for conversation, however, when I open the "just because" up to include "why," I sometimes discover that my argument, as well as my own understanding of why, become stronger. I may want "just because" to be enough, but reasons, logical or not, why I care can be the most compelling arguments of all.

I wish sometimes that I never had to explain, that "just because" would be enough. But I taught my kids to speak up, and by golly, they do. So, they question, and I explain. And they argue, and I learn. And along the way, "just because" becomes a little deeper for us all.

Why, you might wonder, do I let them do this? Because, just because, what we question today may end up being the very thing we learn to embrace tomorrow.

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