No conversations are more amusing, or perhaps, more informative about the nature of Man, than the wisdom of young children. They are accustomed to see more truly, and speak more openly, for they have not yet learnt reasons to hide their thoughts, nor soften their observations.
Yesterday, Tiarnan, who has just turned six, complained to his mother:
“Fintan likes girls singing!” He seemed somewhat appalled at the idea.
“So?”, countered his mother, “They sound nice.”
He wasn’t convinced.
“I don’t like girls talking.”, he said, unwilling to give up his viewpoint.
“I am a girl.”, said his mother, reasonably, “I talk.”
“I like you talking, Mummy.”, he confessed. “I don’t like girls talking.”
At that moment, Fintan, eight, leaned forward intently and spoke pointedly.
“Tiarnan, in this world, 90% of all talking is by girls.”
Tiarnan considered that figure and couldn’t quite muster anything to counter it. Anyway, he would have been distracted by the laughter of his mother.
I found this exchange hilarious when Syahidah later reported it to me. Fintan’s comment might not be politically correct, but even though he is only eight years old, he has observed enough about people to have noticed that many a girl is more verbal than boys usually are. So, there is an element of truth in his view, even if “90%” might be an exaggeration.
I find this kind of conversation very appealing, for it reveals to me evidence of my children’s world models, that they have formed in their minds. I see, through their words, the world that they see, with its categorizations, understandings, purposes and values. It is most enlightening. What is most amazing is how quickly young children seem to form models of the world. Even very young children have interesting views about how the world works and what it all means. You just have to pause to listen to them to peer into another world, one both alike and unlike our own – but informed, nevertheless, by a surprising degree of logic and observation.
I wonder whether Fintan will still think, in ten years time, when he will be eighteen, that girls are responsible for 90% of the world’s speech. I shall remember his words of yesterday and remind him of them, when that time comes. It will be interesting to see how he responds. I expect that he will laugh at his boyhood remark. We shall see.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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