True or false? - Shawn Loughlin editorial
One of the quotations flashed on the screen over the course of the film The Big Short, attributed to Mark Twain, reads: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” In that context, it’s referring to the economic collapse of 2007 and 2008 and the savvy investors who saw it coming before anyone else, but really, its applications are endless.
In the Loughlin house right now, Tallulah is just over two years old. She’s talking a bit, communicating a ton and starting to understand things on a bit more of a higher level than she was when she was just beginning to learn about the world around her.
Right now, we’re working on teaching her that there’s a baby in her mommy’s tummy (due in February for those who haven’t yet heard the news), so it’s been funny to watch her grasp that incident by incident. Really, to what degree she’s actually understanding it is up for debate. But, she’ll point at Jess’s stomach and say baby or periodically stroke Jess’s stomach - showing she cares and that she’s being “gentle” with the baby. Lately, when Tallulah hasn’t been feeling well and we have to take her temperature, she has insisted that we take the baby’s temperature before we take hers.
So, Tallulah understands that there’s a baby in her mommy’s tummy, but, for a while there, she just thought there was a baby in everyone’s tummy. For the first few days after we started trying to teach her about the baby, she would point at Jess’s tummy and say baby (understandable), my stomach and say baby (impossible, but still understandable from her point of view given my current fitness level) and then her stomach and say baby (much less understandable).
Back to that original quotation, we’ve now crossed the bridge with Tallulah and can help her understand things, but now the next step on the journey is helping her understand why some things may be true and why others that surely make sense in her mind (and may even look true) are not exactly as they seem.
In my later childhood years, I remember really having trouble wrapping my head around this kind of idea in English class. Think about homonyms, two words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. That kind of stuff is confusing to a young mind. And they’re, there, their and it’s versus its - I mean, forget about it. I do it for a living, but that can be hard for anyone at just about any age.
I remember my mom telling me as much when I was a kid. German is her first language, so when she came to North America (first to the United States then to Canada) and learned English, she had a very hard time. Not only was it the task of learning a new language, but she said that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn with all of the word trickery, silent letters and odd spellings. German, she would always say, is easy to understand because, for better or worse, words are spelled exactly the way they sound, even if they’re a bit long. In English, she said, you could look at words and be entirely surprised with how they’re supposed to sound.
So, we’ve done pretty well with Tallulah in teaching her about things she should know. The next challenge will be teaching her about things she knows for sure that just ain’t so, to go back to Mr. Twain. And we definitely have to do it before she points at the wrong woman’s tummy and infers that there’s a baby in there - for a variety of reasons.