What Can We Learn from a Child?
Sometimes a children’s story book is more than just a story and visual art.
Sometimes a book provides subtle insights that inspire awareness in the reader.
Subtle Lesson From The Children’s Story Pensive Penelope Thinks About Words
“Dogs can’t think….they don’t have a language with which to think!”
I have spent a large part of my life living with dog lovers. I am a dog person too, and there have been at least two dogs in my life that I dearly loved. But my family of dog lovers REALLY, REALLY, REALLY LOVES their dogs! They want them in the house with them, on the couch with them, in the bed with them!
I have said, “I will not live in a house with dogs,” but I have. I have said “The dogs won’t stay in the house alone,” but they did.
This tension between me and mine around dogs sometimes grew comical.
Do dogs have a language?
I used to tell them, when they told stories about their dogs as if they were people, “You know dogs can’t think.”
“Of Course They Can Think!” they would rail back at me.
“No, they can’t. They don’t have a language with which to think.”
And then there was more railing and ranting and raving and I always smiled a little as I walked away.
I know that dogs can think. I’ve seen dogs think, choose, anticipate, make decisions. And as far as I know, they don’t have a language.
Penelope has a rich inner thought life even before developing her language skills.
I believe that children—yes, like dogs–have a full and rich inner thought life and that they are experiencing it long before they learn language. They are learning through observation and experience and they are making internal connections long before they speak. Pensive Penelope “wonders,” “ponders,” “notices” and “thinks” before she finds her physical voice not just to carry the story line but because that’s what I’ve seen and observed in pre-verbal children. That appears to be their truth.
You’ve seen the non-verbal baby light up when Mama or Papa come into the room to pull them out of bed after a nap. You’ve seen a baby lift its arms toward its caregiver as it requests to be picked up with a smile of anticipation. Growing, developing children know, feel, and experience much more than they yet know how to say, but it is there inside, rich, full, and active.
The Inner Thought Life of Penelope in the Children’s Story, Pensive Penelope Thinks About Words
Why does it matter that she can think before she speaks? That she’s listening, noticing, observing and learning before she has language skills?
It matters because, as WE notice this and accept this about our smallest friends, we begin to see them more as whole people. When we see them as whole people, doing the really incredibly difficult work of growing, developing, and learning, we look at them and interact with them with respect. They are whole people, even before they speak, even the moment they come into the world. Yes, they are small and floppy and dependent on their caregivers, but they KNOW stuff! Every single moment of a child’s life is spent learning, growing, changing, developing, evolving.
So, let’s get in on that! Let’s read books to them and sing songs to them and talk to them as if they are about to talk back to us. There’s a lot going on inside those little heads, and we can encourage and support the processes of growth and development when we enjoy full awareness that they are whole people and they are listening!
For Your Thoughtful Comments: Do YOU think dogs can think?!?