Last weekend, our son Brian, our 3-year-old granddaughter, Ella, our 5-year-old-grandson Owen, and I were in the car, driving home after running a few errands.
Owen and Ella’s favorite “car game” right now is “I spy.” In case you are not familiar with it, this is a game where the person that is “it” (or the “spy”), says, “I spy with my little eye…” and then gives a clue to something he is looking at.
Owen has modified the game, however, which is a nice way of saying he likes to make up his own rules. This night his rule was that we were only to spy “nocturnal animals,” and that we didn’t really have to “spy” or see the animal, we just had to think about it.
This is how the conversation went:
Owen: Let’s play I Spy!
Brian: Okay, that sounds like fun.
Ella: Me play too!
Owen: I’ll go first! We’re playing Nocturnal Animals. I spy with my little eye something that is brown and furry.
Owen: You’re right, Ella! Okay, Grandma, it’s your turn now.
Me: I spy with my…
Owen (interrupting me)… Grandma. We are playing I Spy Nocturnal Animals. If you say a Diurnal Animal, then we will skip your turn!!!
First of all, I guess he needed to be sure I understood the game, like I wasn’t listening when he laid out the rules the first time? Secondly…. Diurnal???
I looked at Brian and said, “Diurnal? Is that a real word?”
He nodded his head yes, and had a little smile on his face that made me think that he might have wondered that too, the first time he heard it from Owen.
Me: Owen, what does diurnal mean?
Owen: It means that the animal sleeps at night and stays awake during the day. Like me!
Me: Where did you learn that?
Owen: At TK.
TK = Transitional Kindergarten (or what we used to call pre-kindergarten).
When I was his age, children only went to pre-kindergarten if the parents anticipated that there might be problems when the child went to school. Pre-K was a place for children to learn to behave in a school setting and to learn to socialize appropriately with other children.
But today children are learning about nocturnal and diurnal animals in Pre- or Transitional- Kindergarten.
I think that’s good. Owen’s school is really giving him a fabulous head start in the educational system.
But me? After our conversation, I felt I needed to go back to school. It’s a bit unsettling when a 5-year-old not only knows a word that I don’t know, but also knows the meaning of that word.