The perspective of youth.
A couple of weeks ago, Ainan was talking about cars, to me.
He looked over at me, with an opaque expression, one that seemed to blend puzzlement, intrigue and intense interest, with a dash of amusement.
"The Ferrari F360, looks like quite a modern car, Daddy," he had enough of the suitably impressed about him, to convey that understanding, "but it is SO old..."
He was being rather emphatic about its age, so I focussed more intently, upon him.
"about the year 2000, or so.", he concluded, unexpectedly.
That startled me. So, the year 2000 was "so old"?
"That is not old, Ainan...at least not for me. That is quite recent."
He smiled a little, seemingly both understanding my own, ancient perspective, and disagreeing from his.
This observation of his, though, led me to wonder how he sees the world - and, perhaps, how all the very young see the world. For them, very recent events, might be judged to be ancient history. For them, what is for us, a mere recollection away, seems like something out of the history books.
Ten year old Ainan, of course sees something that is ten years old, as very old indeed. The world, at his scale is measured in ten year blocks - one such block being an entire lifetime. So, of course, for him, a ten year old car, seems an old thing indeed.
Ainan is so intelligent and wise in many ways, that it is easy to forget how young he is and how foreshortened his view of the world and history is, thereby. He may have the understanding of someone far older, but he still has the personal timescale of a young child - which is, of course, understandable, since we all measure the world by our experience of it and he had, at the time of speaking, ten years experience of it.
I questioned him again, today about his observation of the Ferrari F360 and said, once more that that did not seem old to me. He then modified his assessement: "Mediumish old", he said, then added: "Ten years is quite old for a car to still exist."
Indeed, he is right. Many cars don't last long and are on the scrap heap long before ten years have passed. The taxi I most often take (we know the driver) is three years old - but it looks more like thirty years, so worn does it seem, in its own way. Many taxis here, are like that: the cars just kind of fall apart after a few years. (Though this might have something to do with local design and engineering issues...deliberate obsolescence no doubt being part of their business plan).
I must admit, though, Ainan's remark did make me feel old, suddenly. A young person, you see, thinks that young things are old. I don't. I must, therefore, be old, myself. I have a perspective built of longer durations...thus the way I see the world is a product of how long I have lived in it. A decade is not so long for me, since I have seen four of them completed. For Ainan, a decade is a whole lifetime.
At the same time, I wonder how ten years have passed so quickly that I barely noticed them - and in that time, three sons have sprouted up. It is quite amazing, in a sort of horrifying-isn't-life-short kind of way. My eldest son is halfway to adulthood...more than halfway - and yet, in some ways, I have barely had time to become accustomed to him as a child.
When Ainan is my age, now, I shall be an old man (if I am alive, of course). I plan to ask him, then, whether he thinks a ten year old car, is "old". Of course, there may not even be cars by then...but the point remains the same. It will be interesting to see whether his perspective matches my own, then. We shall see.
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html
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