Why is it that these days you can't just say 'No thank you,' or make a simple request without having to justify your reasoning or thinking. For example, as a teacher I often find myself making what I believe to be reasonable requests of my students like, 'Please sit down quietly,' or 'Please take this pile of books to C1 for Mrs Smith,' or even, 'Please can you take out your planner and write this down?' and invariably, instead of being met with quiet compliance I get a barrage of 'Why?'
Well, if you make the mistake of actually explaining 'why' then you can find yourself dragged into pointless and time wasting conversations, or worse, other students feel they have to chip in, too, and some kind of tit for tat argument ensues and it all becomes very wearisome. So I say, 'Because I say so, and if you want to discuss the finer details then I am more than happy to give you time at the end of this lesson,' and this works especially well if the lesson is just before a break time or lunch or the end of the school day because 'Why' suddenly becomes insignificant when 'Me time' is imminent.
Now I know children today want to understand the whys and wherefores of every single second of their days and are massively more confident than I ever was at the same age in making demands in order to satisfy that knowledge, and in some ways that is a good thing because as individuals we shouldn't have to accept everything we are told. If we did, then we wouldn't learn, would we? Questioning is an important element in education. But a lot of the time I think children say, 'Why' as an automatic response, as a way of buying some time so they can decide if they really want to waste their lives sitting down or delivering some books because it is a helpful thing to do, or write something in their planner because it will actually make their lives easier although it probably involves homework.
And now those confident children are growing into confident adults and taking jobs in, for example, sales. It is the sales people who get me. Recently we've had a couple of estate agents round. Both looked around 14 years old and wore the estate agent uniform of shiny suit, hair gel and bizarrely long shoes. Both bored me with their platitudes and transparent sales pitch - I sat there thinking, 'I have heard all these stories a squillion times before. I am weary. I am too old and too cynical to believe anything you are saying.'
And since then I've had phone calls from these chaps asking when they can market the house and both times, when I have said, 'We haven't decided yet,' they have both responded with, 'Why?'
Not even, 'Can I ask why?' which used to be the politer version a couple of years back. Just 'Why?'
It leaves you a bit gobsmacked really. I put them off with rambling about still needing to chat things over with my hubby etc etc. But if they call again, which I suspect they will, then I am bracing myself to say, 'Because I say so.'