Monday, 19 January 2009

Things my four-year-old knows

My daughter is into quizzes now, so when we play together, she asks me to be the quizmaster and she and her stuffed animals are the contestants. Things she knows:

Comfrey is good for a headache.

Puffins say “moo.”

Apples come from white flowers.

Gorillas are smart and gentle but can’t talk.

You can make cloth out of nettles.

The red bricks in the fields are peat, which you burn to keep warm, and which were plants back when there were elephants here.

Red flowers are usually pollinated by birds, because birds like red, and they usually don’t have a smell, because most birds can’t smell much.

Sometimes she went into more detail – answering a question that bees help flowers have babies, she said, “We need to make sure bees are okay, because if they get sick there will be no one to take care of the flowers, and if the flowers goed away, all the girls in the world will be sad because no one will give them flowers anymore.”

Other times I didn’t quite know how to respond: When I asked her, “what are the only mammals that can fly?” she responded confidently, “Fairies.”

As I kissed her goodnight, she asked, “Papa, how do you make electricity?”

Usually by turning magnets really fast, I said. It’s electricity that pulls magnets together or pushes them apart.

“Could we try it tomorrow?”

I don’t know if your hippo magnet on the fridge is enough, I said – you would need big ones like on a windmill.

“Can we make electricity with a windmill?” she said.

When you are a little older, I said, I expect that you and I will make ourselves a windmill together.

"I love you, Papa."


Will Conley said...

Good LORD Brian this post almost made me weep. I don't weep at blogs, as a general rule.

I notice the topics of conversation between you and your daughter covered the ancient past, the present, and the future.

Do you think kids live in a constant state of hypnogogia/hypnopompia? That magic middle world between waking and dreaming. Drifting easily between the two states. Between time periods, between eons.

Brian Kaller said...


Thank you very much. I have to tell you, you expand my vocabulary so much -- today I learned the words hypnogogia and hypnopompia, and last time I learned what "Twitter" was. :-)

I hadnt thought about it much, but come to think of it, I suppose children exist in a state of constantly being alive, their consciousness not insulated by thick strata of experience and routine. They also exist in their own world, clearly, more than the rest of us.

References I see to magic and religion assume that children can pass freely between barriers. I attended Catholic seminary, there was no violation if a child ran from nave to sanctuary, as there would be with an adult. Wiccans assume children can pass freely through cast circles. Even the most apocalyptic Rapture fan assumes that children get a get-out-of-Tribulation free card.

Glad you're reading.