The Preschool Space-Time ContinuumJane Roper
“Are we going to school next day or tomorrow or after quiet time?”
“Remember last day (=yesterday) when we went to Pop-pop and B’s house for Christmas?” (Said in February)
“How about I jump on the trampoline for sixty minutes, and then Clio can have a turn?”
“Is next week going to be Halloween again?”
I kind of thought that by now, at four years old, my children might have grasped the concept of time. I mean, it seemed reasonable enough that at three they had no idea what the difference between “tomorrow” and “in a few days” meant or that the idea of something not happening again for a whole year (what’s a year?) made no sense, given how short their little lives are. But I’m surprised that we’ve made so little progress since then.
It’s their “quiet time” that seems to really throw them. After lunch, we still do quiet time, during which we read them a book, and then put them in separate rooms (one in their room, another in ours) where they can read books or play quietly or rest. About half the time, they actually fall asleep — and we let them, though not for too long, as it can interfere with bedtime.
But if we tell them that something is going to happen *tomorrow* they aren’t sure if that means after quiet time or after bedtime. So I find myself saying things like, “After bedtime. You know, the one where we brush teeth and put on pajamas. Where it’s dark outside. Where you sleep in the same room.” And they reply, “chocolate babies.”
(Sorry, VERY obscure reference there. Anyone?)
As for saying things like “in a few days” or “in a few hours,” forget it. I might as well be saying “In a zebra’s butt.” (In which case, at least they’d laugh.)
“When we’re five” is also a very big thing lately, especially for Elsa, who seems to think that five is the age at which life really begins. Except she actually thought she turned five a few days after she turned four — the perils of having more than one birthday celebration. It took some convincing for her to understand that she’s actually going to be four for quite some time. Now, she’s started telling people she’s four and a half (which she won’t actually be until June 28), but whatever makes her happy. I’m half expecting the girl to come home with a fake ID one of these days.
I think the girls talk about days of the week and months of the year at preschool. But they don’t seem to really be able to do anything with this knowledge. Yesterday, we were talking about the seasons — specifically, about the fact that the snow was melting, and it was getting a little milder (famous last words…) and I asked them what came after winter.
“Spring!” they said.
“Right! And what comes after Spring?” I asked.
“Valentine’s Day!” said Elsa.
“No, Valentine’s day is in winter. We just had it. So we won’t have it again for a whole year, which is a long time. What season comes after spring? Do you know?”
“Fall!” said Clio.
“No, not fall…what’s the season that comes after spring, before fall….”
“Beach!” said Clio.
Close enough for not-five-year-olds, I guess.
Are your kids like this too, or are mine particularly time-impaired?