Zen Nieces

My younger niece Leah was the one who said, "Let go" when I said I was stuck trying to do my arm trick. My older niece Eliana had a great piece of wisdom this weekend when they slept over. The next day after lunch we were eating cookie dough ice cream, sitting in the living room in a circle. Eliana was sitting on a little red plastic chair with her legs crossed. Leah was sitting on the floor.

"Why are you sitting like that?" Leah asked her sister.

Eliana laughed a little. "What do you mean?"

"Why are you sitting with your legs crossed to the side?"

"Because I am. Why are you sitting like that?"

I think that will be my new strategy when asked things I don't want to answer or don't need to answer. "Why are you wearing that schmatta*? Why are you letting Wally eat crackers before dinner? Why are you living in New York with a kid?"

Because I am.

*Someone actually asked me that at the YMCA this weekend. It took all the courage I could summon to say, "Why does it matter?"


  1. Love that. It's really the answer to everything.

    Some other options:

    Why are you wearing that shmatta?
    Why do you ask?

    Why are you wearing that shmatta?
    Oh, do you like it?

    Why are you wearing that shmatta?
    Smile. Nod. "Thank you."

    Sometimes strange grammar has good effects...

    These judgmental questions are like saying, why are you you? Because I am.

  2. Brilliant! Makes me think of a time when an anonymous X of mine told a woman "No thank you" when she asked if she could cut in front of us at the airport. It works wonders. You can try it for any solicitation or request but I'd never really thought of the above. "Oh, do you like it?" will surely throw the person off balance, making a comeback nearly impossible. "Why do you ask" is also better than "Why does it matter" which sounds defensive. Funny how we're taught that the words after "Because" have to explain, not simply describe or restate. But that's not always true in conversation. Here's to poor and strange grammar when appropriate. This ties into conversation I was having this morning with a friend who wrote that she always thought she needed to answer questions honestly, but realized that was not always the case.
    "Why are you you?" "Because I am." Lovely. Should go into a song. Also, sometimes it's simply a matter of not having the time or desire to answer. It's okay to rush along, isn't it, without explaining where (if anywhere) you're off to.

  3. Another answer to "Why are you....?" is "I gotta be me."

    Listen to this great kids' song, "Gotta Be Me":


  4. Why are you ... ?

    Why not ?


  5. Sometimes when people ask me for money I say, "No, thank you." They usually smile and tell me to have a nice day.

  6. Leah - I wonder if any think you don't speak English. That's what I hope to convey sometimes.


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