A Difference Between Adults and Children

Sunday, September 4, 2016


While at the park with James a month or so ago, we ran into a group of kids from a summer camp. About 5 or 6 surrounded James and told me how cute he was and tried to get him to talk to them. When he didn't, they looked up at me and asked, "What's his name?" They talked to him and about him a little more before asking, "How old is he?"

I found this to be so interesting. Almost without exception, whenever I would start talking to another parent at the park the very first question we ask each other is, "How old is he/she?" The name comes much later, and usually only after we swapped more info about how much our respective children talked/walked/enjoyed their toys, etc.

On reflecting on this difference between the way we communicated, I couldn't help but remember my favorite passage from The Little Prince (by Antonie de Saint-Exupery) that addresses this exact thing.
"Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friends, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, 'What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?' Instead, they demand: 'How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?' Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him."
I don't exactly know what to take away from all this, but it is something I can't stop thinking about whenever I talk to a child.

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