It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Children are so Observant!!

So George says, “the big green garbage truck”. And I think to myself: the garbage truck is green? I picture it in my head, and, what do you know, the kid is right! The garbage truck is green!

This is the sort of child observation that has adults cooing “Children are so observant!!” Adults who don’t have much to do with children, at any rate. The rest of us know better.

Children do not observe the toy that has fallen just to the left of their foot, because they’re looking for it to their right. Children do not notice that they have spilled milk all over the table until it pours into their lap. The milk was spilled in the first place because a child did not notice the cup that you pointed out to them when you placed it there. Children do not observe the step until they trip over it, the doorknob until they run into it, the baby until they sit on him – and then only because he yowls… You can send an older child to look for an object, and they will return, unable to find it. When you look yourself, it will be RIGHT ON TOP of wherever you told them to look. Children, observant?

What they are is highly idiosyncratic. Children notice odd and quirky things, things that adults don’t notice. They notice the colour of the garbage truck because garbage trucks are fascinating when you’re three. They notice the ants in the cracks of the sidewalk, the pattern of gravy on their mashed potatoes, the smiles on the bottom of their rain boots, the sound of an airplane, the way the mud spatters the curb, the fluff stuck in the branches of the bush. They notice these things because they have all that spare memory space in their sponge-like minds, space that is available precisely because they aren’t noticing “normal” stuff that gums up an adult’s mind!

That’s another reason to love my work, of course: while my mind is necessarily filled with all the mundane things I note and take for granted, I get to be reminded of all the quirky and interesting bits that would otherwise go unnoticed by this “observant” adult!

May 9, 2005 Posted by | random and odd | 2 Comments