Bella is at that marvelous ‘why’ age. Especially when she’s tired the questions come think and fast and I marvel at the depth of her almost-four-year-old thinking. We’re also establishing a lot of house rules now that she’s big enough to do so much on her own (or try to).

Like last week when I found her trying to flush a bowl full of toilet tissue and we learned about clogs and blockages and established how many squares she should use. Two days later I was nursing Joy and overheard her go into the bathroom to brush her teeth and insist that her father was using too many squares. They had quite a discussion about the matter, which ended with the conclusion that J’s bottom is bigger than hers. I managed to control my convulsive laughter just enough not to wake the baby.

I’m tempted sometimes to give easy answers and side-step the more difficult questions. Especially the ones which arrive while I’m making dinner, changing dirty nappies, or other messy tasks – which is most of them. But that would be missing the point. I love this age. I remember when my younger sister was limited to three questions at a time because she just could not get enough information. We referred her to encyclopedias and dictionaries and stacks of books to quench her thirst for knowledge. I don’t want to discourage that in my own children.

What Bella learns now will stay with her for the rest of her life. We’re laying foundations. How the world is made, our purpose, people and relationships, setting goals, trying new things… we’re teaching more than addition and the alphabet.

This process is so important. It’s worth taking time over. And when I take that time she learns more than why it rains or where the water goes when it leaves the sink. She learns that she is loved and valued. And someday, perhaps when she’s raising her own children, she may even look back and realize why.