On my blog I refer to my youngest son as Intuitive Monkey. Monkey...because he never stops moving and is quite silly. Intuitive because he has a grasp on abstract ideas and the consequences of them in a way that The Rationalist does not.
Both of my boys are incredibly smart for their ages, but in completely different ways.
The Rationalist is black and white all the time, without fail, inexhaustibly so. Rules and facts are hard and fast, never flexible. If someone is wrong, they need to be corrected. If something's unfair, it needs to be remedied. It's tough living with such a concrete person all of the time. Everything is always up for debate.
Monkey also absorbs facts and will correct others if he thinks he's right, but not nearly with the same passion and vehemence. Where The Rationalist never keeps a thought to himself, but opens his mouth and lets it all pour out, Intuitive Monkey is much more guarded and will actually say that he doesn't want to tell us something that he's thinking. As a result, when his thoughts do break out into speech, they often amaze us with their poignancy and insight. I always catch myself thinking, "Wow, there's a lot going on in there."
Sitting with him while he's learning is a wondrous experience. During a viewing of the Nova special about the colony collapse of honeybees, he would stop every few seconds and ask me to clarify a word or term. He had to be sure he completely understood what was happening.
Narration about the theories for the decline in bee population.
Intuitive Monkey:"...ep-i-dem-ic.......Mom..what's an epidemic?"
Me: "It's when sickness spreads quickly through most of a group , like people....or bees, and is hard to stop."
IM: "D...N....A......Mom....what's DNA?"
Me: "DNA are the instructions in our body that tell it how to work the right way."
and it goes on and on until he is satisfied that he understands.
A couple of days ago, in the midst of conversation about his upcoming Kindergarten Holiday Special, he plunged into another set of questions.
Me: "It's a holiday that some people celebrate. They believe that, a long time ago, God made a day's worth of oil last for eight days in His Temple."
IM: "Why don't we celebrate Hanukkah?"
Me: "Well...usually only Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah."
IM: "Jewish...what's jewish?"
Me: "Jewish people are people who have different religious beliefs than we do."
IM: "Religious beliefs........what's religious beliefs?"
Me: "Religious beliefs are things that people believe about God."
IM: "Oh....so they believe different things about Jesus?"
Me:"Well....they don't really believe in Jesus."
IM: "They don't?"
IM: "Oh...so that means they must be bad people."
choking on my water
Me: "What?!...No...that's not what it means...." I backpedaled for a moment as I tried to figure out how to explain a complicated theology to a five-year-old boy.
"Remember how we talked about how God loves everybody, and how nobody's perfect...everyone's made mistakes?"
IM: "Uh huh."
Me: "Well, just because people don't believe the same thing we do doesn't make them bad people, or any different than us. We believe that God wants people to know about Jesus, so we tell people about Him who don't know about Him, but we always remember that God loves them. Do you understand?" I asked, unsure if I even fully understood what I was saying.
IM:"yeah....Hey...can we eat out tonight?"
end of theological conversation.
Trying to encapsulate the finer points of theology and culture into language a Kindergartner can comprehend has proved challenging. It makes me rethink the things I say and how I communicate them.
It wouldn't be so bad if I had some kind of warning, but these conversations crop up spontaneously, spurred on by the inner goings-on of a private thinker. It's like constantly being 30 seconds away from a Pop Quiz and you don't even know what the subject will be.
These kids definitely keep my brain cells hopping.