Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Answers

The World's Cutest Niece (now to be abbreviated "Twcn"--or possibly "Toucan") likes maps. Evidently. The second-to-last time I skyped with her and her parents, she spent much of the time saying "Camel! Camel!" while her parents recounted their trip to the environs of the Dead Sea. She had gotten to ride a camel with her daddy on the trip and was still very excited about it. Much of the rest of the time, she marched smilingly in front of the webcam with a book of Israeli maps. Then she climbed up between them on the couch and gave the book to one of them to "read" to her. Did I mention she's not even two yet?

The three adults (her parents, on one side of the globe, and me on the other) all laughed indulgently at this, and then Sister-in-Lu picked up one of those photo-illustrated guidebooks and waved it at me. "She also likes to look at this," she said. "She'll sit down and look through the whole thing." Apparently sometimes she makes her parents identify everything in the photos. Even the tiniest photos. Even if she couldn't possibly have any point of reference for the subject of the photos.

Dave describes it like this:

This happened again when Lu came back with a camera full of pictures from the City of David excavation south of the Old City of Jerusalem. The ruin is an archaeological mess of eras.

Hannah points at a specific feature of a picture. She says, “Bah-TANNN!” (or some combination of syllables we can’t agree on). Emmylou says, “Hannah, that’s a stepped stone structure (Hannah says, “Steps!”) that supported the fortifications of the ancient city.” (Hannah points at it again, saying “Bah-TANN!”) Lu: “It might have been from the Jebusite period, or maybe from when David was king.” Hannah points at something else in the picture. “The tower on the left is Hasmonean.” Something else is pointed at. “Bah-TANN!” Lu: “See that house in the middle with the four columns? (Hannah says “Co-UMs!”) That’s from the seventh century [BCE]. It was built right into the stepped stones! And see, those are steps going to the roof! (Hannah: “Steps!”) And that room over there? It still has a toilet seat in it! That’s where they put their stinkies.” Satisfied, Hannah is ready for the next picture. The next picture appears, and Hannah points to a specific feature and says, “Bah-TANNN!”

She did this for the whole photo shoot, which was around 45 pictures. She’s gone through up to 60 pages at a time of the pictorial travel guide this way too.

We were marveling over this together--the brilliance of TWCN and the mystery that is the mind of a small child. "Maybe," I said, "she just needs to know that you know the answers. She doesn't need to understand them. She just needs to know there are some, and that you, her parents, know them."

Life would be so much easier if I could just relax in knowing that Someone--my adoptive divine Parent--knows the answers. I have some other allegorical and analogous thoughts about this facet of my niece, but, as I am wont to do, I shall discuss them at another time.

Underwater Observatory Marine Park, Eilat. Photo presumably taken by Sister-in-Lu. Stolen from Facebook by jennwith2ns. 2010.


Jeff said...

My kids have gone through "What's this?" phases at around that age. The question gets asked about everything-- even things they know the answer to, or things I can't imagine they care in the least about.

My take on it had always been that we're wired for interaction. They love being able to communicate, to keep the interaction going. (At that age this is a fairly recently-developed ability.)

It never struck me that the other thing going on is exactly what you say:
The kids need to know that we have the answers. The universe is such an inexplicable place to young kids, it'd probably be deeply disturbing if the folks in charge were as clueless as they.

This all leads me to ponder the theological ramifications of all this... What does the fact that we are wired to communicate and need to be reassured that the one in charge knows what is going on say about relationship with God?

Young Christian Woman said...

Among her other talents, TGBTSWATWCNWHTHTSN can hit refresh, causing me to lose large comments I have almost finished. Not sure she's as smart as TWCN--your posts about her always make her seem pretty brilliant--but she certainly does pick up and do a lot.

She has brought me Town Meeting Time to read her, although she didn't find it that interesting--but we were reminded of the commercial where the little girl wants to read about zoning for a bedtime story because she has no art in her life. (Of course, our take on the commercial is that #1, she's obviously a very intelligent kid, and #2, that's a great choice to put you to sleep). She will look at pictures of crowds in her books and point out the babies.

TGBTSWATWCNWHTHTSN also has started saying Babylon 5 (bahbahfah) when we watch that in the evenings--not when she sees the characters or the title screen, but as soon as she sees the Warner Brothers logo.

She knows which of her books are which. If you mention Jesus or numbers or monkeys in casual conversation, she'll bring the appropriate book. There are some words we can't use around her--like crackers or bubbles.

She knows how to make a bottle using either expressed breast milk or formula for her dolls. If I am pumping she knows I am making a "baby cup milk."

She has created her own phrases--like when I was wearing her brother in a carrier in my shirt and she wanted a "baby shirt." (We found her a carrier for a doll).

TGBTSWATWCNWHTHTSN also can put away stacks of tupperware, shut gates, fetch and throw out diapers, and get her own washcloth at bathtime. And she knows that she's less likely to be stopped from doing what she shouldn't when her little brother is nursing.