Besh has been in a fun – albeit occasionally challenging – new phase for a few months. He likes to ask why. A lot. But, it’s usually relegated to asking about stories. “Why is Shrek an ogre?” “Why are ogres green?” “If Humpty Dumpty is so fragile, why did he sit on a wall? That’s not a good idea!” “Why is the big bad wolf going around blowing down houses?” I have tried the old parenting trick of “what do you think?” He then hazards a guess and says, “Mommy, I really don’t know. Please just explain it to me.” Often, I don’t have an answer (a lot of these literary inquests happen on the car ride to school in the morning.)
When I was in NY a few weeks ago, my sweet friend, Eva, gave me some presents for the little guy on the way and for Beshaboo. One of the things she gave me was a CD/book combo of There was an old lady who swallowed a bat. This was a huge hit. I hadn’t realized that Besh had read it at school. As soon as I showed it to him, he exclaimed, “That’s There was an old lady who swallowed a bat! I love that book!” We’ve been listening to it in the car. For those of you unfamiliar with this book, the old lady swallows a number of things in an effort to chase the bat. But, the narrator always returns to the refrain, “I don’t know why she swallowed a bat.”
For quite a while, Besh would ask me, “why did she swallow the bat?” To which, in the end, I would go back to the lamest answer ever: “because that’s how it was written.” Besh was dissatisfied. So dissatisfied, in fact, that he did not want to hear the story for a while.
This morning, he asked to hear it on the way to school. When the narrator got to the first “I don’t know why she swallowed a bat,” Besh said, “Mommy – please you can turn it off for a minute?” I did. He then says, “I am going to call that guy from the story.” He picks up one of the phones he has in the toy basket next to his car seat. This is what I hear:
“Hello! You’re the man from the story?”
“Why did the old lady swallow the bat?”
“Oh – it’s supposed to be funny?” <pause> “Oh, you mean it’s like a joke?”
“Oh, ok. Thank you very much! Bye, bye.”