In Search of Families In Search of Adventure
A Family on a Bike Tour: New Zealand, Samoa, USA and Canada 2004/2005

The big question

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From:       Stuart
Subject:   The big question
  Date:         16th February 2005
     Palmerston North, North Island, New Zealand

The little creatures sit there, on the edge of their perch, eyes wide open looking expectantly into mine, 'whyyeeee? whyyeee whhhyyyyeeee' they call.

Are these the creatures with the mysterious call?

Every parent recognises this cry from the age when a child's curiousity explodes as they grasp the infuriating power of the question 'Why?'  We're currently living with two why birds, a little one just starting to call and a fully fledged chick that sings from dawn to dusk, 'whyyyeee? whyyeee? whhhyyyyyeeeee?' The why bird is not an endangered species although some consider it a real pest. There's certainly no disputing the fact their incessant, repetitive call can be irritating. Our two seem to thrive on their current diet of new experiences, people and places, chattering more and more animatedly when we answer their calls.

Our why birds at the Murchison museum

The world needs why birds. When we cease to be curious about the world around us we risk stopping caring or learning about it. The cry of why is a good indicator of a child's developing curiosity and thirst for knowledge, something to nurture, support, and encourage, not quash or suffocate. I've seen why birds wither, cooped up indoors, sat in front of TV or hooked up to a Playstation. When their calls goes unheard or unanswered it's not long before they stop calling and start dying. So, I do my best to answer my little birds' questions however trying it becomes. But I'm struggling.

I think I started pretty well and in the early days felt quite knowledgeable. I knew I was doing OK when Matthew flattered me with, 'Dad, why do you know everything?' But recently things have been more difficult. Cameron now tests me in public with "Why is that man black?" or "Why is she fat?" while Matthew probes to reveal the depth of my ignorance with "Why is the sun hot?" "Why do dogs have tails?" or "Why do we cycle everyday?" I'm worried to find myself increasingly using classic defensive responses like "Because it is," "Because God made it that way," or "Ask your mum."

So I figured maybe we could harness the power of the internet to help satisfy my little why birds curiosity. Today I asked Matthew and Cameron to tell me what questions they still had unanswered from the big trip so far. There were quite a few so I organised them into the lists below. If you have specialist knowledge in one of the areas listed and would like to help support the why bird, then why not send us an email with an answer to one of the questions. Something simple enough for a 40 year old to get and explain to a 4 year old and a 2 year old. We look forward to hearing from you.

General knowledge

Why do we have fences?
Why do campervans like tents?
Why do cars not speak?
Why do snow ploughs help engines take snow off?
Why are computers delicate?
Why does my computer help me to read?
Why are fun factories fun?

The natural world

Why is the sea is very cold?
Why does the sea come in?
Why does the moon pull the sea?
Why is chip bark in playgrounds wood?
Why do we cut down trees?
Why was there an earthquake in that house?


Why do we have two of everything? Like eyes and legs?
Why do dogs have tails?
Why are tummies squashy?
Why do only Mummies have babies?
Why don't Mummies have willies?
Why are mans big?


Why is that man black?
Why do you do wee's wee's in toilets only some of the time?
Why do cars park in car parks?
Why are those things there in a museum?
Why do we wear shoes?
Why do I keep learning to read?

About my family

Why does Cameron keep losing Lamby?
Why does Cameron sometimes be naughty?
Why does Mummy sometimes feel sick?
Why is Stuart sometimes crazy?
Why am I sometimes naughty?


Are all things made of material?
Why is metal solid?
What is a liquid?
Why does butter melt?
Why is the sun hot?
Why are ice creams cold?

Send us an email with your answers.



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