Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Beware the Geeklet Uprising

Note, this post has no Shakespeare in it. But it's really the only forum I have to tell stories about how smart my kids are, and are becoming.

Story #1 : We're watching a Christmas movie, I'm building a fire in the fireplace. During a commercial my 6yr old - the *6* year old, normally the quiet one - asks me, "How do you make fire?"

Now, I've always had a policy of answering their questions as honestly as I can, and I can predict where this is going. I can answer it one of two ways. I pick the easy way. "Well," I tell her, "You start with a very small fire, like by lighting a match. Then you put things on that fire that burn really easily, like paper. Then you go to small wood, and then bigger wood, and each time you add stuff you get more fire until finally you have a big fire in the fire place."

"Yes," she says, "But how do you *make* fire? Where does that first fire come from?"

Visions of E=mc2, mass and energy flash through my brain, trying to figure out how to answer that far more interesting question (which, really, I knew was what she was asking). Luckily, though, the Christmas movie comes back on and she's no longer all that interested. She is 6, after all. Bullet dodged!

Story #2 : We are watching Miracle on 34th Street, which is an interesting experiment in a house where the children range from 4 to 8 and my wife's never seen it. So the burden is on me to determine whether this movie, which if you've not seen it is basically about a whole bunch of adults trying to convince a child that Santa Claus doesn't exist, is appropriate for my kids. Are they going to come away believing (which all of them do, by the way), or not?

The movie is a pleasant surprise and basically takes a stand on the message that "No matter what anybody tells you, you can choose to believe things for yourself." We've not yet finished it, so when the kids go to bed each night there's a million questions. Last night I tried to explain to my 8yr old the difference between "know" and "believe".

I pick up one of her stuffed animals and hide one hand behind it. "Do you know how many fingers I'm holding up?" I ask.

"No," she says.

"I'm holding up 1 finger," I tell her. "Now do you know that I'm holding up one finger, or do you believe that I'm holding up one finger?"

"I know you're holding up one finger."

I move the doll to reveal that I am, in fact, holding up 2 fingers. I put the doll back in front of my hand.

"Now," I said, "Do you believe I'm holding up 2 fingers, or do you know that I'm holding up 2 fingers?"

"I believe you're holding up 2 fingers," she says.

"No," I tell her, "You know I'm holding up 2 fingers because you just saw it."

"I know," she says, "But now that your hand is behind the doll again you could have changed how many you put up."

.... That was actually going to be my next point, and she beat me to it.

You know that scene in all the good science fiction movies where the creation begins to learn faster than the creator can control it, and eventually takes over the world? Yeah, I have moments like that all the time.

No comments: