At two years old, my babies have perception confusion. This makes sense. When we Skype with my mother or with their uncle, for instance, they want to give them things, hug them, kiss them and touch them. They see the image of a real person on the screen, therefore, that person is here. This, logically, extends to regular phone conversations. When I’m talking to my mom on the phone, and they can hear her but not see her, they run to the door and demand that she come in. They can hear her, so obviously she must be here.
An interesting twist on this that I did not expect was how they reacted to my husband’s mother’s visit. She walked in, followed by my husband.
“Hi! Hello! Hi! Vovo! Hi vovo! Vovo? Vovo? Phone? Phone. Vovo phone. Phone vovo.”
This kept up for the next few days, until they got comfortable with the idea that their grandmother did not live in the phone.
My kids thought their grandmother lived in the phone, that she belonged in the phone. Her arrival challenged their perception of reality, and instead of simply accepting it, they first tried to remedy the situation. They tried to right it within the confines of the truth they had already defined for themselves before broadening their scope to include the possibility that their grandmother could actually be here in our house in three dimensions.
Allowing themselves to admit that their grandmother did not live in the phone probably caused them a bit of confusion. Something they knew as fact, they no longer knew. As a bigger picture became clear to them, they not only had to navigate that new picture, they also had to discard the old one, to rid themselves of flawed perceptions.
Even at two years old, that was a hard feat to accomplish. The upside is they did it willingly, with trust and eagerness. They wanted to see the rest of the picture. They were happy to change their perception, even though it was difficult for them. That’s a good sign because as they continue to grow and learn, they will have to trash many theories that they had previously assumed were correct.
It’s also a lesson adults can take away from children. So often we think we know everything about our lives, about our loved ones, about our friends, about politics or religion or national issues. We don’t know. We will never know. Every definition we have is based on the circle that we have erected around ourselves. It’s tainted by our past experiences, our tendencies, our weaknesses and strengths. It’s tainted by who we are.
If we dimiss addtional information because it may force us to re-evaluate our possibly incorrect assumptions, we will miss out on a lot of life, most of which is going on right outside the circle we made for ourselves.
It’s funny to see my toddlers rush to the door to see someone who is on the phone. It’s cute to laugh at them when they try to hand a piece of pineapple to the face talking to them on my computer screen. As we grow up, our perceptions become more serious, at least to us. We hold onto them more tightly, even when it becomes clear that we are wrong, or only working with partial information. Change is difficult. Changing ourselves is the most difficult of all.
I look at my kids, though, and I think, if they can do it with such innonence, grace and levity, perhaps I can, too.
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