Monday, July 19, 2010

#38 Insight

One thing George and I constantly wonder is this: how much does Jack actually understand about the world? Sometimes, he seems so disengaged and/or clueless, and other times, he shows remarkable understanding.

When we were saying goodbye to our golden retriever, just before George took him to the vet to be euthanized, Jack and I stood at the back of the car, petting Hoover for the last time. Jack couldn't understand why we were all so sad. "I'm not going to be sad!" he said.

Then, he told me, "Mommy, when Daddy said Hoover was sick and was going to die, I got my wand and pointed it at Hoover and said, 'Brakiarm emendo!' [a spell from Harry Potter]. I did it over and over again. But it didn't work." He paused, then added, "I want a wand that works."

So do I, Jack.

When I reminded him that wands are make-believe, he said, "I know." But does he?

Things like this make me realize I too often underestimate how much Jack understands. Today's question, then, is this: How do you balance your own perception of your child's/student's/patient's understanding to keep from selling them short or giving them too much credit?

Not sure how you can answer this, but it seems to me it's an ongoing process. I'm curious to know how other parents/teachers/therapists/doctors feel about it.

1 comment:

Jessi Fogan said...

I've been thinking about this question all week - and all I've got is, um, well, yeah, it's an ongoing process. I feel like I'm usually erring on one side or another. Riley (10) will take in whatever is said/happening, and sometimes won't express his total lack of understanding for days or even weeks. One area that is recently becoming a big issue is lying - not him, but other children. He seems unable to understand even the idea of lying. On the other hand, Connor (11) seems to hold conflicting beliefs simultaneously. The best example of this would be what he believes causes thunderstorms. We read two books the same day - one that explained the scientific facts, and a storybook that had an old man with a cold in the sky. Talking about it afterwards, he said he believed in the science, but that the old man was "making the science in the sky." And, he says he understands that transformers are pretend, but includes Cybertron if you ask him to list the planets. Sigh.
I'm looking forward to seeing what others think about this - since apparently I'm not even really sure what I think :)