The first word that my niece might learn is the word ‘Bakit?’ Because everyone seems to be asking her that. When she’s about to cry, my mom would say, ‘bakit, bakit, baby, bakit?’ at times the Chinese version ‘ka-na, ka-na?, or my brother would say, ‘why baby, why?’. (We can add more if they like, Mandarin version, Taiwanese, Korean, Japanese and Spanish). So in a way she’s exposed to different languages but just limited to those words. My professor did advice though that each one of us should be consistent in speaking specific languages in front of her or when talking to her, so that her grasp of the languages will be much effective in her developing years. I remember my other professor sharing about teaching her children how to say no. That was the first word she taught them. She wanted them to be able to stand firm and have the capacity to say no.
But I like that word. The ‘why’ word. I remember when I was younger, I used to ask that question repetitively. When seeing something interesting or peculiar, I would be curious about why things had to be that way or why did the people chose to do that. I used to watch Betamax (smaller than the VHS, if people are still familiar with the VHS, we’re still using it to record some programs and for playback) with my dad, the Chinese WuXia series that we enjoy watching, and I kept on asking, ‘bakit?’ after a scene or an instance that caught my attention. It helps also to learn to ask why instead of just accepting everything as it is.
Another note that I thought about is when you’re a child or an infant who isn’t able to speak yet, people care to ask you why you cried, when you grow up, they think twice about asking, they might settle into second guesses as to why you cried; sometimes they just ignore the tears or just don’t want to cross that line for fear of making things worse. So they stop asking. They don’t bother finding out what made you sad. On the other hand, they expect you to be stronger which means for them, you controlled your tears, that you shouldn’t be asked ‘why’ now that you’re all grown up. When you ask too many why’s, hit the right question, they just fall silent and refuse to answer you. So you still wonder why, why they can’t provide you an answer. And it’s a different story when they are the ones going to ask you.
But I won’t stop asking why. Like Nat Geo’s campaign to “Live Curious”. I like their shirts which say, “EVERYTHING DESERVES A WHY”, “THE CURE FOR BOREDOM is CURIOSITY”, and “IGNORANCE IS BORING”.