Time… According to a Child

 
 

 

How amazing it must be to have no concept of time? How liberating.

Plotting our sons growth alongside the chart of mankind’s evolution, he is close to understanding that as the sun settles near the horizon it’s time to get back to the cave.

Walking upright? Check.

Simple cave drawings? Check.

Charting the Suns movement across the sky and breaking it into 24 equal increments? Hardly.

Our five year old’s time thumps to the rhythm of his own internal combustion engine… and the beat of his imagination. Unless it’s a school day and his routine is orchestrated by our needs, he wakes when his body tells him he’s had enough sleep. It’s never the “groggy, rolling out of bed hesitant to start the day” look. His is the “I got exactly the amount of sleep by body needs to replenish the energy I lost on the previous day playing and doing kid stuff” look. It’s our job though to manipulate his clock.

He has yet to fully comprehend that the numbers on the face represent the time of day. His only perspective is sun up versus sun down.

As his overlord, there have been a few days I’ve set the stationary teaching clock on the wall in his room to 7:50am and told him he can’t get up until 8. It’s nice playing god.

He has yet to figure out how morning fog can delay wake-up time.

“Nope. Sun’s not out yet… Back to bed.”

Curtains were invented not for privacy but to control a kids sleep patterns.

We’ve taught him days in how many sleeps he will have between now and the event in question. But that doesn’t always stick. Maybe we need a slow burning rope with knots for days? Or an hourglass.

Mankind has come so far. Childkind? Not so much.

I told him recently I was coming to observe him at school the following week. The following Tuesday. That day was Friday.

“Are you coming to my school tomorrow?”

“No, tomorrow is Saturday. I will be there Tuesday. Four sleeps.”

“Tomorrow is Tuesday!”

“Well, it’s not. Today is Friday. Tomorrow is Saturday. If tomorrow was Tuesday, tonight would be a school night and you would have school tomorrow.”

“I don’t have school tomorrow! Tonight is not a school night! Are you coming to my school tomorrow?”

I told him to think that over.

On the news one morning he overheard the reporter mention an approaching nor’easter.

“Yay! Tomorrow is Easter!”

“Well, no. It’s not. Easter is always on a Sunday. Today is Friday… that makes tomorrow what?”

“Easter! I can’t wait. He said it was Easter! Did you know the Easter Bunny lives in the ground? Why do they live in the ground? Is it cold down there?”

He has it in his head that Halloween happens when it’s dark out. Occasionally, as the sun is setting he will exclaim! “Yay! It’s Halloweentime! I love Halloween. What am I going to dress up as tonight?”

When you have no concept of time the daily rotation of the earth determines the holidays. That and seasonal holiday decorations.

At the sight of Christmas lights up in March. “Yay! It’s Christmas! I’ve been a good boy this year. I hope Santa comes.”

“It’s not been a year. It’s only March.”

“I don’t like to march. I can do a somersault though. And skip.”

And blowing leaves means it’s Fall.

“Yay! It’s fall! The leaves are falling!”

“Well, it’s actually spring. Summer will be here soon.”

“No it won’t. It was hot yesterday. Summer was yesterday.”

To be unburdened by time. What a peaceful world.

He’s watching the earth move and slowly assigning values to its position. And when that doesn’t work… He pulls holidays out of the air.

“You’re wearing red? Yay! It’s Valentine’s Day! I love Valentine’s Day. Can we get some chocolate?”

“Not necessarily. But today is not Valentine’s Day. It will be Valentine’s Day in a year.”

“When I am six?”

“Yes.”

“Yay! When I turn six it will be Valentine’s Day. And my birthday! At the same time! Yay!”

Let’s hope he doesn’t see a turkey that day or we’ll have Thanksgiving too.