Ada tried to call me. Fleur burst into song over our conversation. Her clarity and confidence melted my heart. Her brazen defiance of asking her to allow us to talk made me almost fall out of my office chair in laughter.
Occasionally, she will tell stories about an event that happened at daycare. Almost all of them are another kid pushed her or her BFF. That, of course, raises our alert. But, in asking follow up questions, I sometimes question whether it really happened at all.
- The name of the perpetrator will change.
- The teacher present will change.
- What the individuals did will change.
I know her class has lots more boys than girls. I am fairly sure the boys are all the youngest with older brothers. On the other hand, I am pretty sure Fleur is as tall as any of them, though not has heavy. If the class were a baby fight club, then she would hold her own.
Usually she says the perpetrator said they were sorry.
Fleur went through a fairness phase. It especially escalated around age two where she would express displeasure about unfair treatment. I have no doubt her like and dislike of daycare adults is based on her perception of their being fair. She is getting better about expressing that position. But, I would agree she has been evaluating this since around a year old.
The results suggest that toddlers reward those who are acting fairly, adding to the evidence that very young children have a strong sense of what is “right” or normative. But, interestingly, these kids don’t seem to punish those who have been unfair (in fact, the researchers suggest that the children instead tended to avoid making responses towards unfair distributors, as they touched the screen fewer times overall after seeing those who acted unfairly).At Just 16 Months Old, Toddlers Will Reward Someone For Acting Fairly
Lots of ideas about evolution suggest the human brain is geared towards communication. However, I would suggest that brain power is about evaluating fairness. People suck at mathematics and logic until it deals with fairness for themselves. Communication is also about fairness in that we talk and write to establish common ideas upon which to make judgements.
Often, when Fleur is asking Mommy about something and I have the answer, I offer it. She ignores it and asks again, so I answer again. Around the third to fifth time she will tell me in a frustrated tone, “I am talking to Mommy.”
It amuses me because I get that quite a lot. At home as a kid, at school, at work.
As a know-it-all, I answer questions. It never occurs to me you don’t really want an answer or solution.
Fleur calls me Honey. I am sure it started as parroting my wife. But, she does it now as a replacement for Dada. Well, when she wants my attention.
Actually, you know what? That latter is similar in approach to how the wife calls the teen. Booooboooooooooooo!
Fleur has taken to calling the male Little People toy in the toy house “Honey” too. I need to observe the name she has for the female. Curious if she has a name yet. I am also curious if she will call other adult males Honey. (And their reaction to it.)
The first toy I noticed she named was an annoying unicorn that makes noise. We never named it because, honestly, we hoped it would disappear (burn in a fire). Fleur named it Lady. Same as a dog down the street she loves to visit.
I ponder often the psychology of names.
- They occupy space in our brains. And they seem important due to processes in the brain encoding and retrieving them.
- Our language seems built around labeling things. English has a subject and an object, both of which are “things” and the verb saying what we are doing with the things. So we need nouns to identify and distinguish between the things with greater and greater accuracy.
- I think what I like most about science is the precision I gained in thinking about what things are by developing ever increasing vocabulary about them.
- We start with physical things and move into more abstract. I call myself a technologist which is not an actual object. It is a job title with a loose and very subjective sense of duties.
Itsy Bitsy Spider is a favorite Fleur song. Sitting on the porch after a rain, I thought it would be good to connect it to tangible things. Rain drops still fell. The yard was bright with sunshine. And at the end of the porch was a gutter, aka water spout.
I sang the the song and pointed to the drain and explained it was a water spout and sang the song again. She looked at me and the gutter and did the hand motions for the song. The excitement just grew about there being a spider specifically in the water spout attached to the house.
She had to tell Mom all about it. And brother.
When do we get to the part of language where we explain the use of metaphors and simile as explanation tools?
The toddler and I often debate whether something is a whale or a shark. It makes people who know me well happy that I have a personality mini-me. Often, these descend into:
This got me thinking about persuasion and the effective use of repetition. We tend to overlook it because we think that simplistic things we know and understand are reasonable. And frankly, the only way it could be. They are facts. Objective. The way things are. However, repetition has a sneaky way of becoming things we know and establish in our heads as facts. This is the Illusory Truth Effect messing with us.
These are reposts of a series I did years ago on mental shortcuts.
Recently, Fleur and I have been having debates on the proper label for some pictures. I call them whales whereas she calls them sharks because they look like the animations from Baby Shark. Instead of a post about that, I decided to repost this series.
Homo Sapiens Sapiens cheated evolution in one critical way by creating language. Rather than rely totally on instincts passed along by genes, we pass along an enormous amount of information to our proteges through memes. These may not even be the descendants of our genes. In working together on something, we share enormous amounts of information.
Everything including physical objects, ideas, and behaviors all have a label. Sometimes more than one. A label is a way of identifying something without having to go into the gory details of explaining it every time. (Like I just did.) I can call something an “apple” and anyone who understand this word knows what I mean. Labels bring efficiency to language. Until it does not.
Framing and metaphors are a couple of the tools behind labels. Through them labels acquire properties which then influence how we think. We can be manipulated by these thoughts simply by others choosing one label or the other. A great experiment has test takers write random number at the top. The larger the number, the better the test takers did on the test. How a question is phrased in a poll skews the responses. When we use metaphors also we constrain our thinking. Using the metaphor of a clockwork universe makes us think of mechanical devices and how everything around us are such devices.
Maybe English is a special case. Between Frisian (the ancestral language that make English belong to the Germanic family) and French from the Norman Invasion, English has multiple words for things. Throw in the Melting Pot that is the United States with making up jargon for everything. This language is an absurd mixture of strange meanings. Certain words like “set” have so many definitions one needs to hear or read it in context to understand it.
Then we also have LABELS. LABELS are also labels but have the special nature of how we classify other people. They are how we split people up into groupings to say one is not like another. White vs Black. Extrovert vs Introvert. East Coast vs West Coast. Democrat vs Republican. All are arbitrary. Many are misunderstood. They drift into caricature stereotypes causing hurt. This is where our -Isms arise. Nationalism, racism, or sexism would have no place without powerfully overly broad LABELS. As our conversations become more mature, we need more and more LABELS to express the nuances even while others resist change.
We need labels in order to communicate with each other. We just need to recognize their fallibility. And somehow avoid hurting each other while expressing ourselves.