The ‘Why Game’

Teaching the Finer Points of Safety…in an Unsafe World

The Why Game. We’ve been playing it for a while now.

It was all quite comical to begin with but, to be honest, the novelty wore off almost as quickly as it started. I can understand the notion of a child’s mind doing anything necessary to rapidly take in and process lots of information. However a fourteen question interrogation starting with “Why do cows poo on the road?” before morphing into my having to launch into a minor, improvised dissertation on the workings of a cow’s digestive tract seems a tad excessive.

For now, however, I can take solace in the fact I have the answers to most of the questions (assuming, that is, I have the patience to provide them).

That said, I can only hope Kaia gets it all out of her system sooner than later. Namely, before we have to return home. Because, if not, such relentless, inquisitive hammering is going to present ol’ dad with a quandary of sorts. The problem of being stuck between a rock and the very hard place with the question, “Why do I have to sit in a car seat?”
No…for so many reasons

There in a Brisbane International Airport parking space mom and dad will be confronted with two options. First is the “Because I said so,” response and a well flogged one in these parts. As such, it’s the proverbial effort in futility and one that acts like a red cape in front of a particularly angry bull and does little more than assure things end in a pool of frustrated tears. And Kaia’s not too keen on it, either.

The alternative is the Pass the Buck route with an official and legally binding, “Because it’s the law here in Australia.” This won’t suffice, either, since it will invariably lead to questions. Lots and lots of them, actually. Such as “Why is it a law, “What’s a law?”, “Who makes laws?” and, eventually, 45 minutes later, “Why doesn’t Paraguay have the same laws?”

The truth is, it’ll never make sense since, for close six months now—and most likely, for the next six to come–Kaia’s fanny will not have graced a child car seat.

Which isn’t to automatically imply they don’t exist. I’m sure they do…somewhere. It’s just, from what we’ve seen thus far, they just don’t appear a high priority for many people here in this part of Paraguay.

For more than two months, as we’ve slowly made our way in, around and back out of town, Kaia has been inundated with sights that are enough to send the heart of any self-respecting Mother Hen into instant cardiac arrest. Things that back in Australia (and the US and other ‘regulatory minded’ societies) would have city and town councillors, concerned citizens, police and various federal level bureaucrats literally foaming at the mouth over.

The commonplace sights of entire families on a single 125cc motorcycle and not a single helmet between them. Seatbelt-less children standing in the front and backseats automobiles and pick-ups while underway. Texting motorcyclists. Children sitting on the lap of their driving parents.

And, our favorite…children sitting on the lap of their driving parent who are also texting at the same time.

They are sights that leave Bec and I often simply scratching our head but for Kaia (who’s too young to remember much about live before South America) and the rest of the locals here, it’s pretty much all par for the course.

Which all puts mom and dad in a bit of a predicament. A predicament that essentially sees us trying to stress the importance of our own definitions of prudence and safety to Kaia in one breath while not inadvertently condemning the local interpretation as sub par in the next. Because the fact is our measuring sticks are just different. Or, put another way, it’s simply a matter of  ‘perspective’. Which, is as good a goal to shoot for as any when setting out for a trip such as this.

Even so, it’s all a bit much for a three year old to grasp. And, judging from how long the above paragraph took to write itself, for a 47 year old as well.

So for now we’ll just have to do our best at figuring out the challenges of learning how to best explain other issues. Concepts surrounding safety, simple cause and effect and the real endangered species in the group, personal responsibility.

It probably won’t be exactly easy and I’m far from sure how such lessons will play out. But on the flipside, I have no doubt how they’ll begin and progress…

All with a simple “Why?”






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