As I mentioned in a previous post, we have moved to northern Idaho. It snows here. Even though it is spring, and the sun doesn't go down until after eight, it still snows. A light-hearted, "Welcome to Idaho" sort of snow.
Me: Hey, kids. Look. It is snowing outside.
Sam: I don’t see any snow.
Jonah: It’s like a blizzard out there.
Catie: If it is snowing, I probably better skip my nap.
The reality? It was snowing. It was not a blizzard. And, in no way was it relevant to Catherine’s nap. This left me wondering. Why are my kids so weird?
Having given it some thought, I can now announce that my children aren’t (always, completely) weird. They’re just very different from each other. Let me explain.
Sam is very literal. He knows what he knows, and if you want him to know anything more, you need to teach it to him. He understands cause and effect, but he does not extrapolate new information. And, Sam’s only experience with snow is what he has seen on television. On TV, “snow” is an object, a noun. Mounds of noun-snow heaped up everywhere. Noun-snow hills for sledding. Noun-snow snowballs. Noun-snow snowmen. When I said it was snowing, Sam looked outside, at the ground. He saw no accumulation of snow, therefore, it was not snowing.
Jonah is more imaginative. He sees nuances. And, is a wee bit melodramatic. Unlike his brother, he has firsthand experience with the “stuff” that is snow, but still very little experience with “snowing.” Verb-snow. He knows verb-rain. So, when Jonah looked out the window, he expected to see snow falling like rain; down. What he saw was light, fluffy snow swirling around in the wind. When rain does that we call it a hurricane. When snow does that, Jonah calls it a blizzard. This is reasonable. (Especially when you go back and read the part about being a wee bit melodramatic).
Catie is a four year old girl with only one care in the world. Herself. Her experience with snow is also limited, but irrelevant. She didn’t even look out the window. She sensed a disturbance among her subjects and immediately tried to work it to her advantage.
She took a nap anyway.
There is an old anthropological study that says in the Eskimo languages there are 50 words for snow. Add three more.