Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Dunno

It started off as a really cute phrase.  We would ask Laura a question.  In response, she would shrug her little shoulders, turn her palms up (fingers slightly curled), and say "I dunno!"  Her voice would be filled with wonderment and possibility, as though she were saying, "Wow! I don't know what color that is, but I'd love to find out!"  It was so cute, we would laugh and giggle and repeat it back.  Laura would smile, pleased with her little joke.

It was really, really cute.  Until we noticed that Laura would often say "I dunno" when we knew she knew the answer.  It was still cute, but we would try to get her to actually answer the question.  "No, really Laura, what color is this?"

It was far less cute when Laura dropped all pretense of awe and humor.  She started answering every question with a bored, monotone "I dunno."  It was as if she was using this common phrase the way some people say "um" before they speak.  Her placeholder for thinking about an answer.  Except that she would never get around to answering.  We're working on it, forcing Laura to actually answer our questions.  Laura, what did you do at school today? 
I dunno. 
Yes, you do know, practice your remembering. 
Play my fends!  Play trucks!

Laura is a very smart little girl.  She knows the answers to most of our questions.  Most of them.  At 3:45 this morning, Laura was sobbing in her room.  We waited a few minutes to see if she'd settle down, and then we went in to calm her.  I asked her what was wrong.  She sobbed "I dunno!"  And I felt truly helpless.

For once, Laura was really unsure of an answer.  I wanted to prompt her to the right answer, but I didn't know what that answer was either.  I didn't want to ask if something hurt, because then she would be convinced that something did hurt.  I didn't want to ask if she'd had a bad dream, because then she would be convinced of something scary in her room.  Instead, I let the phrase slide as I laid Laura down in bed with us.  Sometimes, there is no answer. 

Why was Laura crying last night?  I dunno.   Did I completely mess up as a mom by laughing at a bad habit?  I dunno, but probably not.

Pouring my heart out, because I just don't know all the answers.