The ability to use logic and reason is what’s said to separate humans from animals. And, I believe, the ability to logically reason is what separates adult humans from tiny humans. At least, that’s what I’m starting to see. Anna’s ability to reason and generally figure things out is growing. She’s asked “why?” enough times that she should have all the answers. A growing brain, a developing ability to reason, and answers to all the “whys” should have her ready to go, right? Not so fast, Guapo.
Logic and reason are not quite as scientific as you might think. They're proving to be a true art form. And, like any fine art, they take practice and experience before the skill is truly mastered.
Traci, the kids and I struck out on Sunday evening to run a quick errand between dinner and baths for the kiddos. As I backed the minivan out of the garage, the low fuel warning light came on. I opted to ignore it, not wanting to take the time for a stop at the gas station. I wanted to run my errand, which truly was a short trip, and get home quickly so that baths and bedtime could happen. Besides that, I had driven the minivan all weekend (even the 60 mile roundtrip to the zoo earlier that day) and hadn’t seen the low fuel light. So, we should’ve been in the clear to drive the 3 miles over to Arlington Heights.
We were, in fact, in the clear to drive the 3 miles over. It was the coming back part where we ran into trouble. We had turned onto the main road leading into our neighborhood. Anna had likely just asked, “Did we turn right or did we turn left, Dad?” (We talk about left and right a lot when we drive. She knows her left hand is by the window. This seems to directionally anchor her. That one time that she sat on the other side of the car was really confusing.) And then, the minivan started to sputter. I felt it lose power, and decelerate on its own. I pulled to the curb and told Traci that we had just run out of gas. She thought I was joking. Admittedly, I like a decent prank. But, this wasn’t one of them. Apparently Traci had noticed the fuel warning light on Friday and forgot to do anything about it.
After we had the laughter under control (who runs out of gas less than half a mile from home? For that matter, who runs out of gas period?), we all piled out of the van. Anna asked, “Are we leaving the minivan here? Where are we going?” We loaded the girls in stroller & Owen in the Baby Bjorn (both still in the back from the zoo) and headed for home. We passed neighbors who had likely seen us leave 15 minutes earlier in the minivan but we refused to make eye contact. It was our own version of the walk of shame.
By now, gentle reader, you’re probably anticipating the climax and wondering how this relates to toddlers and the art of reason. As it turns out, Anna has no concept of running out of gas. That is beyond her experience base. She knew we were leaving the minivan there. She knew we were done with the errand. And, once we walked the last half mile, she knew we were home. Based on her experience and the facts as presented, she very matter-of-factly said, “next time we do an errand, we will walk down the street to get our van.” Logically, it was just that simple. The more pressing question on her mind was probably whether the walk back to the minivan would require a left turn or a right turn. She was likely nervous because the stroller has no window.