The Feynman Technique

I learned about Feynman in my teens as my mother had a couple of his books. I enjoyed them and have read all the others.

This post reminded me that I’ve used the Feynman Technique since then. Part of why people think I should be a teacher and/or am so smart comes from leveraging it. In a nutshell, one…

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  1. Choose a Concept
  2. Teach it to a child
  3. Identify Gaps and Go Back to The Source Material
  4. Review and Simplify

For more details, read this Feynman Technique post.

Instead of a child and instead of writing it down, I simply explain concepts completely outside the expertise area of average people. It could be talking about computers, quantum mechanics, government, or in these days the immune system and vaccines and COVID. Putting myself in the context of someone else, what they might know, and especially getting the feedback of what they ask puts me in a better position of better understanding the topic. Especially, coming back and simplifying when I go to explain it again and again.

The iterative nature of the process is really scientific.

Silence is acceptance

Project managers enjoy using this phrase. In a meeting, they will throw out what is the plan and seek anyone to challenge it. Hearing none, this phrase gets used to basically say, “Last chance.”

I find myself using this and similar tools on the toddler. When she dons a skeptical look as I try to put on her clothes, I outline the goal and how this less than desired step is part of getting to what she wants to do.

Role Models

The best thing about “The Biggest Fan” is the intersectional role models.

  • African-American
  • Female
  • in the “desired” work
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I like that Fleur sees someone with similar traits doing the kind work she is playing at doing. This is about the age where kids start to collect patterns of groupings. Certain kinds of people being shut out of highly desired jobs makes impressions that last a lifetime.

I love that she is being afforded the opportunity to see someone like her doing the work that she pretends to do. And that she enjoys being around this role model so much. It makes me happy we lucked into having this person.

(I put desired in quotes at the start because really she is just role-playing. I dunno there is any real evidence she desires to become a doctor or medical professional. Or if there is any desire now that it will persist strongly enough over the next few decades to make it a reality.)

My wife’s quasi-adopted daughter is another role-model. This time for art. How Fleur lights up when she gets to be around this person is a sight. How I am just an afterthought.

The Biggest Fan

Fleur still loves her real and placebo bandaids. As she is back in daycare, she gets more and better opportunities to need real ones. Which is okay. Her motor skills are improving as she can now sprint the length of the house without bumping into anything. They call it the bleeding edge for a reason.

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Doc McStuffins and other doctor-esque characters are ones she enjoys quite a bit. And the need for bandaids becomes more vocal after exposure. There is also a need to break out her toy doctor kit with stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, otoscope, hammer, etc to give well-checks on all the family members.

Fleur also liked her pediatrician at the last well-check. This was after a year of being scared. A sudden reversal prompted by my wife digging into the connection and taking the toy kit for Fleur to practice the things on her doll before having them done to her. It worked like a charm.

Only with her own illness, she started talking about going to see her doctor. By name. We did book an appointment, but the one tasked with seeing sick patients was not the doctor Fleur wanted. She was in denial, telling over and over my wife and the nurse on the phone she was going to see her doctor.

She got to see another doctor, but she was emphatic that she will see her doctor. I think we have a fan.

Smelly poop

A friend complained about the smell of his kid’s poop and the lack of warning. It made me realize I have never really been bothered by poopy diapers from Fleur. But, I may have just gotten lucky.

I think there several factors at play.

  1. Epigenetics make parents sensitive to certain smells. Nausea defends against poison.
  2. The epigenetics play into his digestion by affecting the processes involved. This can make certain smells with various foods.
  3. As a child’s microbiome develops, the altering of the bacteria composition can affect smells.

Help is a four letter word

I do it myself!

Fleur, just now and all the time

I am torn about this stage.

I love that she wants to develop these skills.

  • She perseveres.
  • She makes small tweaks to form to find the one that works if it doesn’t initially work.
  • She learns from the past mistakes.
  • She develops a preference.
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My hope is experiences like this will help her pass the marshmallow test.

I dislike having to wait. I am not good at padding the timeline to include how long it could take her. I hope to get better about accommodating this.

Thankfully, when I offer to help, she rebuffs me. This tends to be a bit more intense than my preference, but I respect that she wants to do it. Also, if we try to intervene by putting on her socks or shoes without permission, then she will get upset and remove it and get even more determined to do it herself.

Micromanager

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I have a few bosses. My work situation has been a little unclear who is really my boss, but my work has been mostly self-directed for a decade, so that is fine. Then there is my wife.

Now, I have the toddler. The others are far more lassez-faire. The toddler?

  • Everything is now.
  • Everything has to be done in a very specific way.
  • And the visions are poorly explained, so meeting the expectation is difficult when the thing is something new.

Thankfully, most of the time, I meet or exceed expectations.

I need to do some looking into the etymology of the term micromanager to see if the original description was of a boss who acts like a toddler.

That which should NOT be named

I don’t want to say Minnie Mouse’s Bow-Toons are Voldemort, but… Wait, no, they are WORSE.

These are sub four minute segments that suck out your soul over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

The other thing is Fleur gets up at 5 in the morning asking to watch them. “No” results in an hour of crying and screaming where no one gets any sleep. “Yes” results in 4 minute increments of peace until it ends.

We are good with the obsession with Minnie. I got her a Lego Duplo set with her and her cat Figaro. That might have started all this. We got her a plush doll who is number 1 and almost always in her arms while playing. A Figaro plush is on the way which I expect her to adore.

Proper Names

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.

Fleur: Daddy.
Hoooonnneeeeeeeeeeyy!

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.

Empathy

The pandemic has allowed us to have evening walks. We get to meet our neighbors.

The other day one of the neighbor children fell and was crying. Fleur was most distressed about the other child being in pain. It took quite a bit of reassurance and the other child no longer crying to pull Fleur on her way.

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Humans are social creatures. We attend to even the distress of a stranger. It bodes well Fleur was distressed. Right about now is when we should be seeing signs of autism.

Autism more has issues with shallow empathy or reading the emotions on another’s face or tone. Once they cross the bridge keeping from the shallow empathy, they are able to feel deep empathy. This deep empathy is the ability to feel the emotions of others, a merging of identities.