Sunday, February 04, 2018

Cognizance

Lately the kids have been asking questions about cognizance, like, "When did you tell me my name was Rachel?" and "When did you tell me my birthday was June 3?" And it's been driving us all a little crazy because there is no satisfactory answer to these questions. I don't know when my children first became aware of their name or birthday or whatever, and they don't consider the answer, "It's just kind of something you grow up knowing," satisfactory.

At dinner tonight (a lovely NC BBQ, per Benjamin's request, accompanied with roasted green beans and banana puddin') Rachel asked me when I "found out" about WWII.

"Okay, so," I began, "This is another thing that I just kind of know. It is so much a part of our culture that I can't really separate it out as a memory. It's entrenched in movies and literature, we learn about it at school, it was always mentioned at Remembrance Day, we have relatives who served during WWII. I feel like I've just always known about it."

"Just like there was no moment I told you what your name is or when your birthday is," I continued. "Unless, like, maybe at your birth I was like, 'Hello, Rachel! Today's your birthday! Welcome to the world..."

"...Germany invaded Poland in 1939..." Andrew added, using the same singsong baby voice I had been using.

That is exactly the fourth thing we say to our kids when they're born. Like, verbatim.


We tried to get the kids to understand this principle, but they're young enough that they do remember when big topics like this were introduced (aside from knowing their name and birthdate).

"When did you first learn about 9/11?" we asked.

"Grade one," they answered easily (at least, the older two girls did; the younger ones are kind of clueless on this topic still).

"Okay, when did you learn there was a president of the United States?"

They had an answer for this one, too, and the next and the next. Finally I thought of one I knew they wouldn't have an answer for...

"When did you learn about Nephi?" I asked (I don't know why Nephi popped into my head first; it could have been any scriptural figure, really).

"Oh," the kids all said. "Uhhhhh..."

"Exactly," I said. "It's just something you know about. You can't say when you became aware; it's simply been a part of the conversation since you entered the world. It just is."

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