The way kids observe things: thoughts from a former kid

One of the most amazing things about kids is that in spite of the fact that they lack context for much of the world around them, they aren’t panicked. They accept there are things they don’t know.

Kids are also very observant. I don’t mean this in the usual way. I mean that kids spend way more time than adults looking at the details of things. Maybe it’s because when an adult sees something, we know what it is and don’t waste time looking at it in detail. We put it in its category and move on. Maybe kids just have more time to observe stuff from the back seat of a car.
When I a kid in the late 1970s/early 1980s we had a board game called Bonkers. It had a 1970s-style design with explosion and lightning bolts and stars. I found it weird when I was a kid. It was pretty different from the other board games. All these years later, I was able to remember the general look of the game, even if I couldn’t remember the name of the game or anything else about it.
Bonkers board game
This design was etched into my memory.

We also had kids plastic glasses featuring the Muppets. We got it at McDonald’s. The characters went all way around the glass and I remember slowly turning the glass and observing them. How many hours must I have looked at these at lunch and dinner? When I saw these at the Quechee Gorge Village antique store a few years ago, I froze. It’s not just that I hadn’t seen the glasses in a long time — it’s that I had practically done a PhD in the field of studying the images on these glasses.

Muppet glasses
I must have looked in detail at these glasses the equivalent of 50 adult years.
Maybe the lesson is that we should take time to see the items around us: the shape of the grill on the computer speakers in your office, the interesting design on the cap of the Hi-Liter, the pattern on the roof tiles at work.
Or maybe not. Maybe kids have a gift that we lack. Because hard as I try, I’ll never observe that Olaf and Sven poster the same way my kids will.

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