Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pragmatics, Part III

There couldn't be a clearer example of what I am trying to talk about here than the one handed to me at Back to School Night last night.

After N's teacher had finished her shpiel, she invited us to look around at some of the work the kids have done just in these past seven days of school. On the back wall, papers were stapled to a bulletin board, each filled out by a different child in the class. The kids filled in the blanks in the following sentence: My favorite number is __ because __________.

Most of the kids had written similar statements:

"My favorite number is 6, because I am 6."

"My favorite number is 9, because my sister is 9."

"My favorite number is 20, because that is when I'm going to get married." (Hee! That one just slayed me. And, for the record, it was written by N's Loving Girl, whose mom took one look at the paper, covered her eyes with her hands, and waved me off when I came over to gently mock her. "I know, I know," she sighed. "I don't even know what to say.")

Clearly, a bunch of the kids had...well, let's say maybe they borrowed from each other. Or maybe the teacher suggested specific ideas for how to decide on your favorite number. Whatever the case, there were at least a half dozen statements on the order of "My favorite number is 12 because I was born on July 12" and "My favorite number is 3 because I was born on April 3."

And then there was N's: "My favorite number is 8," he wrote, "because I was born on January 26."

What the...?

The thing is, it would be hilarious if it weren't so messed up. Or maybe it would be messed up if it weren't so hilarious. But whatever it is, it's a pretty clear example of what I mean when I say that sometimes he just doesn't...just CAN'T...make sense.

[Also at Back to School Night was a one-on-one conversation about how the teacher wants to work on getting N to stop sucking his thumb at school because she fears he's going to get teased by the other kids. More on that another time, but for now, let me just say: Iceberg? Meet tip.]


Dimitra Daisy said...

But.. perhaps... 2+6=8...

Meg said...

Exactly as above commenter. Maybe he is the smartest one because 2+6=8 and he figured you needed a favorite number between one and 10.

po said...

My head is spinning with the dadaism of that statement :D! Honestly, when he's 25 and some world-famous artist and writer, you'll look back and go, "Oh, okay, it all makes sense now." :)

Anonymous said...

Did you ask him why he said that?

Green said...

When I was a little girl I used to play games at night when I was supposed to be in bed - many of them involved finding ways to make whatever time it was match the numbers. So like the other comments, I see it as 2+6=8+trying to fit in with what the other kids said/what the teacher wanted = his answer.

Rich | Championable said...

Actually, I'd like to know what anonymous asked, too... what did he say when you asked him? It would be interesting to hear the connection, if any.