Saturday, September 08, 2007

Little Reasoning

An example of how the mind of an almost 2.5 year old works.

M, opening the lid to a portable DVD player that was tantalizingly and carelessly left on a low table: "Oh look, a DVD player!"

Brendan, knowing M's temperament and history with electronic devices, says: "Morgan, that's not for touching."

M keeps going, opening and closing the lid. "But I'm closing it."

B: "Morgan, it's not for opening, it's not for closing, it's not for touching."

M: "But it's for opening and closing because it has a lid, yeah?"

Difficult to argue with a true statement. That was a nice little syllogism she came up with, don't you think?

What Brendan should have said: "The DVD player's for grownups to touch." I wonder what she would have come out with if he had said that.

These people are really quite smart little things.


Jason Dixon said...

Perhaps it's just the fact that I don't have kids in my life much (and never had around the kind that were raised like yours are being), but this is simply amazing to me. Wow!

Rational Jenn said...

I think it's amazing, too. I see a thousand examples every day. It's one of the perks of my job!

I think once they really start speaking, say after about 2, the abstractions just come faster and more frequently. (I'm sure there's science that explains this, I've got no citations, just my own experience.)

I love the questions they ask me as they try to figure this stuff out. Once, I put my head in my hands because I was thinking about something, and Morgan came up and said "You are sad, Mommy?" She knows that sometimes people hide their faces when they are sad--she does it herself. So then I explained that sometimes people put their hands on their faces for other reasons. I think she understood, because now she will ask me "You are sad, or thinking?"

It's also interesting to watch them try to game the system. Morgan is little enough that she was just making a generalization about DVD players and lids (for opening and closing). Ryan is older and might have used a toy to close it and then said "But I'm NOT touching it!" He's quite good at following the letter of the law and ignoring the intent. I think all children could out-argue any Supreme Court Justice on any topic any day of the week. Or maybe that's just my kids.

I try to notice these things not only because sometimes they're funny (or infuriating), but because they are indications of where they are in the process of developing reasoning skills, rationality. It's interesting but also helps me communicate with them better.

Of course I like the funny, too!