Age two, in a kitty suit

"The Talking Cure" by Margaret Talbot, in The New Yorker, January 12, 2015, discusses experiments which prove the importance of verbal interaction between parents and very young children, from day one.  

If you're interested in language development, early childhood education or sociology, I recommend the article.

One small paragraph gripped me for days. At one point, the article includes a  bit of dialog, between Calvin, 24 months, and his mother:

Mother: "What did we do on Halloween? What did you put on your head and on your body? What did you look like?"
Calvin: (Does not answer.)
Mother: "You were a kitty cat."
Calvin: "Wanna get. Where go?"
Mother: "What are you looking for? I know what you're looking for. What used to be on the door handle?"
Calvin: "Where?"
Mother: "The trick or treat bag. We ate all the candy already."
Calvin: "Where the candy go?"
Mother: "It's all gone in your tummy."
Calvin: "Want some."

I read and re-read that passage: Calvin's future is prefigured. He will probably be game for the trick-or-treating again; that's called showing up. In my imagination Calvin is thinking, Gimme the damn cat suit and let's knock on some doors!

But the candy—or whatever comes to Calvin along the road—only lasts so long, even so. It is unlikely that one can completely escape desire for life's sweet pleasures, nor would I wish to. Calvin may find, as my sons did, at about age six, that all the candy you can eat makes you sick. 

"How much is enough" is a lesson we keep re-learning. As he grows, he'll be introduced to sharing with others, another lesson. But at two, Calvin's purely and guilelessly primal: Want some.

Sometimes those little snippets of life move me disproportionately. 

 

5 comments

frugalscholar said...

Thanks. I already sent this to my son who works with many disadvantaged kids (his subscription to NYer just expired! Will get him a renewal).

materfamilias said...

Yes. Just yes. The snippets. . .

lagatta à montréal said...

Here is a video that is airing, in French and English, on television and websites here, showing parents how to encourage gentleness and sociability (waiting turns, sharing...) among very young children:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guCu62Eo3u8

Sadly, I've seen counterexamples including a mother and father who both slapped their little boy around and screamed at him. That was a couple of decades ago; I hope he isn't a violent young man now.

This was at a friend's place; she did finally call the authorities but who knows what happened...

frugalscholar said...

@Thanks to lagatta--My son works in a French school in New Orleans, so I'm sending him a link to the video. Merci beaucoup!

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