When do children learn abstract thought? The idea that something may be seen as something else?
With kids it’s usually quite simplistic. Recently, S, my second son (now around two years old) held up an oatcake he was munching, looked at where he’d taken a crescent-shaped bite out of it and said: “Moon!”
Showered with praise for his inventive, creative thought processes it got me thinking: “When did that happen?” Perhaps it was always there, only S has finally learned the communication skills to go with his thought processes (we’re still on one or two word ‘sentences’).
However, as with all these things, it can backfire so it inevitably did. In public.
For some reason S is obsessed with owls. It may well be down to Meg & Mog some of his favourite books (for unitiated Meg, a witch, is accompanied on various madcap adventures by Mog, her cat, and the imaginatively named Owl).
The obsession with owls has extended into drawing (one of his favourite activities). Every time the pen and paper comes out he will hold out the pen expectantly to the nearest parent and ask “Owl? Owl?” repeatedly, until you draw him an owl. Two circles for eyes, a beak and wings usually do the trick. Thankfully, for me, he’s doesn’t demand a life-like representation.
As a result every time S sees two cirlces, even moderately close to one another he chimes up with “Owl! Owl!” until you acknowledge him with a “Yes, it does look like an owl, doesn’ t it?” Temporarily sated he’ll move on until he finds something else he can liken to an owl, the moon or one of his other limited vocabulary of words.
The innocence of childhood
Last weekend we went, as a family, into town. S was moving up the transport ladder of life and had taken over B’s scooter — so B needed a new, bigger one. New scooter assembled we headed to a nearby park to let the two boys try out their respective wheels, whilst my wife got our youngest to sleep.
The park in question is not in a great area of town, it’s a bit of a hang-out place for drunks late at night but at about three in the afternoon we were safe enough.
Not safe from graffiti though, sadly. Slap bang in the middle of the path to the park some ‘wit’ had drawn a large, spray-painted cock. And not a feathered one.
It was pretty basic: a domed penis head and two large, round, spherical testicals.
It was inevitable. It wasn’t his fault. How was he to know? To be fair to him, we did approach ‘it’ upside down… with ‘it’ pointing towards us as it were… and the balls at the top.
S saw it… screeched to a halt and looked at me, joy lighting up his face. “Owl! OWL!” he yelled, grinning and pointing. Passers-by were slowing down to see what he was shouting about. Much mirth all round as, slightly pink-of-cheek I said: “Yes darling, it does look like an owl, doesn’t it?”
Yet another page to add to the list of ‘Things to embarass your kids with when they’re older’ file. It’s filling up nicely.