Fast forward to the present. Ethan is 3 1/2. He's pretty good at answering "who," "what" and "where" questions now. "Why" is the tricky one. I've been thinking he doesn't quite get it yet. Usually if I ask, "Why are you sad?" He'll just repeat, "Yeah? Why?" in a sad voice. But today I happened to be walking by him in the kitchen, and he was looking at his electronic Thomas toothbrush that hasn't worked in quite awhile. There happened to be some double A batteries out on the kitchen counter.
"I know why toothbrush broke. It need new batteries!" I heard him say, mostly to himself. He seemed quite impressed with his discovery. To Ethan, the way to fix anything is new batteries, or a new cord ("Gas station is broke!" he yelled the other day when we passed a closed one in town. "Need new batteries!").
I stood there very still for a moment, amazed at this problem-solving. Voila. A "why" question asked and answered by Ethan himself, no less. We may not hear another one for quite awhile. But it's in there. It's in there.