My daughter, Claire, walked into the kitchen the other day carrying a stuffed Tigger. It was a big Tigger. It used to be a giant Tigger, that is when she was smaller. He stands about 30” high. I remember when he and his friends in the 100 acre wood were used as a kind of fence to pen her in on the floor so she could not crawl off. Now he would make little more than a knee size hurdle if I laid him down.
“DADDY, DADDY, Tigger shrunk!” She was holding Tigger off the ground. I am sure a lot was going through her head. I didn’t used to be taller than Tigger. I didn’t used to be able to carry Tigger. I didn’t used to be able to get him into a different room without dragging him on the floor and falling over several times.
“Tigger did not shrink,” I told her gently, “You got bigger.”
She had a quixotic look on her face, “NO, he shrunk.”
It had not quite stuck they way I intended. “Sweetie, when you get older you grow, remember how you used to be able to wear the cloths you now put on your stuffed animals? Well you used to be small enough to wear them, and when you were that small, Tigger looked pretty big. Now you are bigger than Tigger and you look pretty big to him.”
There, that should do it. She looked at me with a wrinkled brow. “So, how did he shrink?”
Every once in a while you come across a situation where it is difficult to properly define a word. In her head shrinking meant something was perceived as smaller than it used to be. Now, I needed her to make a paradigm shift Change her idea of it being perceived as being smaller than it was, to only applying if it actually is smaller than it used to be. I make a note, this subject will make a great paper when she is enrolled in philosophy 101 in about 13 years.
“Sweetie, Tigger has not changed sizes. It only looks like he has changed sizes. See Pooh?” I point out Winnie the Pooh, in the corner of the living room, who has experienced a similar change in size, err perceived size.
“No, Pooh is the same size.” Hmm, this is not working as I planned. Pooh seemed to have received more regular attention that Tigger. I am guessing Tigger was stashed in the corner for the last year and didn’t get much play time. In the long run it worked against him because although she has steadily seen Pooh, she did not notice him getting smaller, err the appearance of him shrinking as she got bigger. Now with Tigger’s reappearance it seems he has shrunk.
“Well,” I think for a moment. It is time to cook the veggies and the food on the stove needs to be turned. “As you get older your animals will sometimes shrink, there is nothing you can do about it. It just happens.”
“Oh.” She says. Grabbing Tigger around the middle she carts him like a surfboard under her arm and carries him back into the living room.
Someday, she will be sitting somewhere and suddenly grasp the difference between shrinking and “appearing to get smaller.” I hope at that moment she does not hold this against me. But nothing gor burnt and the veggies are done at the same time as everything else.
When I go to put things on the table, I notice Tigger is sitting at a chair beside us.
“He probably shrunk because he did not eat enough vegetables .” She says matter of factly.