Monday, January 28, 2008

"Toys R Us". Are They Us?

Four-year-olds can communicate somewhat complex ideas, but their minds are still alien; their language hasn't quite settled down into adult patterns; and they're flying by the seat of their pants socially. I'd love to see a site devoted simply to the interesting things they say!

Those interesting things are so easy to forget. Our memories tend to reshape and adultify in retelling; we can't hang on to the weirdness. I wish Pauline and I had done a better job capturing Davy's interesting remarks as a four-year-old; but we do have a few (what we think of as) gems. I hope readers will contribute their own in the comments if they have any!

In a restaurant: "It smells like a rainbow of things to eat" (4 yrs, 0 months).

"Mommy, you're evil, so I taked away your shoe" (4 yrs, 0 months).

Davy's great grandmother died. We took him to see the body. He wanted to touch it to see "if she's still squishy but doesn't move" (4-0).

"I wasn't being bossy. I was being right" (4-1).

At bathtime: "I hate to hide from you, but it's just a special occasion" (4-1).

"Is it today or tonight?" (4-2).

Of a new toy truck: "It springed my heart with love, I like it so much" (4-2).

Arguing about who has the better mommy:
Mary Travis: My mommy can help anyone!
Davy: My mommy can help anyone!
Mary Travis: My mommy can talk to anyone!
Davy: My mommy can talk to anyone!
Evidently this is what mommies do: help and talk (4-4).

Daddy: Are you fine?
Davy: I'm so fine I could burst a porcupine! (4-4)

Davy: Jesus didn't have a crib.
Daddy: What? Oh, right. "No crib for a bed."
Davy: I don't have a crib.
Daddy: So you're Jesus.
Davy: Yes. No! (4-4)

"Maybe they call it 'Christmas' because you MISS it and... and... and it's Chris" (4-5).

"My race car is fun-fastic!" (4-5).

To Mommy: "I said 'Wonka Nerds' because my brain took a peek at it before I did. My brain is very smart because it looks at things before I do and it discovers things before I do and that's why I'm smarter than you" (4-6).

Davy punches Mommy.
Mommy: Don't do that. That hurt!
Davy: Did it sting?
Mommy: I'm not saying.
Davy: Did it sting?
Mommy: I'm not telling you so you can enjoy it.
Davy: I enjoy punching people.
Mommy: Well I hope no one punches you and enjoys it.
Davy: I like to be punched. I didn't like it when I was a baby but I absent-mindedly got used to it (4-6).

Davy sneezes. Mommy usually says "bless you", but she's on the phone and ignores it. Davy says, "bless myself" (4-7).

Davy: I don't need a diaper. I just insulated myself for sleep.
Mommy: Insulated yourself?
Davy pulls up his shirt to reveal wads of toilet paper stuffed into his pants (4-7).

"All my ideas live here [points to tummy]. Then they come up to my brain and I think them" (4-8).

Davy: Maybe this is a dream.
Daddy: This, right now?
Davy: Well, maybe. If this hurts. [He pulls on Daddy's earlobes.] (4-11)

Davy: Mom, what's smaller than the smallest thing in the whole world?
Mommy: What? No, there can't be anything smaller than the smallest thing in the whole world.
Davy: No, I don't know what it is, but it's the smallest thing in the whole galaxy! (4-11)

Well, I can't quite resist going a bit into the fives:

"You know why I win [marbles] all the time? Because my blood cells have little actions spirits ready to win" (5-0).

Daddy: Nothing goes faster than light.
Davy: No, something does.
Daddy: What?
Davy: Something that doesn't exist (5-0).

Daddy: If I spin a 3 [in Chutes and Ladders] I win!
Davy: You're not going to spin a 3!
Daddy: How do you know? Precognition? Psychic powers?
Davy: Extra strong brain! (5-0)

"You can't grab afterimages. When you grab them you just get air. Nothing made me think of that. It just popped into my brain" (5-0).

Seeing our brand-new minivan for the first time: "Hubcaps shiny as the sun! Tires as sticky as a sticky-frog!" (5-2).

Looking at the toy store sign: "'Toys R Us'. Are they us?" (5-2).


Anonymous said...

Cute stuff. But what kind of four-year-old knows how to use "insulate"?

Randywombat said...

"My brain is very smart because it looks at things before I do and it discovers things before I do."

Son of a philosopher, all right!

(Though my personal favourite is still "Extra strong brain!".)

Brit said...

4-year olds are great. Recent gems from our 4-year old:

Joe: Becky, you have to learn not to interrupt when I am in the middle of a conversation.
Becky: But you can just get two mouths. If you got two mouths, you could talk to me too.

Me: No, uncle Soren and aunt Christine don't know whether their baby will be a boy or a girl.
Becky: How did you know I was a girl before you had me?
Me: We got an ultra-sound -- a picture of the tummy.
Becky: Maybe we can take a picture of Christine's tummy. Then we will know.

Becky: Sometimes adults don't do the right things. But I always do the right things, right?

Me: Please don't eat the berries off the tree.
Becky: Why not?
Me: Because they could be poisonous.
Becky: But it's o.k. to eat berries when they grow in stores or at home, right?

Becky: you're my best friend, mommy ... and daddy is, too. And Amid and Xin-Xin, and Lukey.

Joe: It's bedtime Becky.
Becky: Just 5 more minutes.
Joe: No, it's getting late.
Becky: But I promise ...
Joe: What?
Becky: I promise I want to stay up 5 more minutes.

Becky: If you are daddy's daddy, Nonno, and daddy is my daddy, then you are my daddy.

Becky: How long before Christmas?
Me: 6 weeks.
Becky: Tell me how long that is.
Me: 42 days.
Becky: Tell me, how long is it?
Me: Very long.
Becky: Oh, man.

Becky: I want a monkey
Me: you can't have one.
Becky: Why not?
Me: Too much work.
Becky: I can do it.
Me: And daddy is allergic.
Becky: No, he is allergic to cats. Monkeys are o.k.

The Financial Philosopher said...

"I'd rather have my Daddy than money."

My, then 4-year old, son asked me why I missed his Christmas play and was away from home so often. Of course, my reply to him was that I had to "work hard for our family to earn money for the things we have."

He instantly gave the reply, "I'd rather have my Daddy than money." Those words, given two years ago, changed my life and perspective on the value of money(I started my own business and haven't missed a Christmas play or any other significant event in his life since that day).

Brad C said...

Hi Eric,

Lots of fun to read these - esp since my wife and I are expecting a baby in July -- Thanks!

AND: I love the comment by the financial philosopher.

Tanasije Gjorgoski said...

One day I told my daughter Mila, then 2 year old, about some happenings when her brother was young. And she asked, “was I very small then?”. I told her that she was not, that she wasn’t born.

Two days after that together with my wife and my kids we went in another city, done some shopping, few coffee stops, got some pizza, and before return, we went to see some friends. My daughter slept through our visit to friends.

Today I was asking her where were we, and at the end told her that we were also at my friends place, and that she was sleeping.

She said “I wasn’t born then”, looking at me, waiting for confirmation.

Tanasije Gjorgoski said...

Oops, it should be 'next day' instead of 'today'.
I got that from old writing, and forgot to change that word :)

Anonymous said...

my friend's 4/5 year old while on a walk at the park:

Mommy, I like the park...all of this, the birds, the trees, the frogs, it makes me feel very calm.

KenF said...

"When I was born, I was a baby, right?" 3-4

Jon said...

Aunt: Devin, you're too cute.
Devin (3): No I'm not. I'm three cute.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for all those cute examples, folks. Neat!

mp said...

Dear Eric,

Thanks for posting those, some classic 4 yr old sayings!

I'm digging my 2 yr olds' reason explanations at the moment (or lack thereof).

Dad: why did you hit me?
J: cos' I hit daddy.

Dad: why don't you want to say good morning to Mum?
J: because the rain and clouds, the rain come down the clouds!

KenF said...

Another one:

"How do they play football? They throw the ball and then hit each other?" (3-5)

Eddy Nahmias said...

I berate myself regularly for failing to write down the funny, clever, and philosophical things my sons (now 6 and 3) say (and for failing to videotape them more). I think someone needs to start a blog or something that would help us remember to do it (and share with each other). I love the examples here.

Just a couple of mine:
Lucas at 5: "Sam was born to make messes, mommy and daddy were born to be teachers, and I was born to help people."

Lucas at 5: “Daddy, I hope we die at the same time so I don’t have to live without you.”

One of my friends' 6 year-olds: Teacher after walking over to a distracted Luke: "Why don't we try to get through your writing assignment?"
Luke (annoyed and rolls eyes): "Don't you have some work of your own to do??"

By the way, doing analogies with your 5-6+ year old can be quite interesting and fun.

Anonymous said...

It's funny reading these philosophers talk about how we acquire this and that knowledge about the world, who obviously haven't spent any time with young children who are actually acquiring knowledge and learning about the world.

Anonymous said...

"Becky: If you are daddy's daddy, Nonno, and daddy is my daddy, then you are my daddy."

The sophists Euthydemus and Dionysodorus seem to use similar sorts of arguments in Plato's 'Euthydemus' (297d-299a): e.g.

"Since [your dog] is a father and he is yours, the dog turns out to be your father, and you are the brother of puppies, aren't you?"


Alice (3? 4?): This is my pyro-ribbon.
Greg: Oh really?
Alice (fluttering the ribbon at Greg): Now you're on fire!

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Cute! If you keep them coming, I might do a "best of" at some point.