“Benjamin, please go throw away your wrappers,” I said. He had eaten granola bars for breakfast.
He reached into the sink and placed an empty drinking glass inside an empty 4-cup/1-liter Pyrex measuring cup. Then he placed a wooden spoon inside the drinking glass. “You know what that means, Daddy?”
I thought for a moment. All those things nestled inside one another could only indicate a convergence, which implies agreement. “It means, ‘yes,'” I guessed.
“That’s right,” he said.
He reached in and removed the spoon from the glass, then the glass from the measuring cup, and set them down separately in the sink. “Know what that means?”
“That means ‘no,'” I said.
“Yep.” He placed the drinking glass back inside the Pyrex and then put the wooden spoon into the Pyrex, but this time outside the drinking glass. “Know what that means?”
I thought about it a moment. “Maybe?”
“No, it means, ‘I want Teddy.'”
I admit, I never would have got that one.
He left the kitchen, then came back a moment later holding Teddy bear. Then he placed the wooden spoon inside the drinking glass (indicating “yes”) and walked around the kitchen island to get his wrappers. He just needed a hand from his old pal.
So, my son, who is not quite seven years old, invented his own sign for three different concepts — “yes,” “no,” and “I want Teddy.” Children seem to have an innate ability to combine intelligence with imagination, and it’s a habit I hope he keeps long after Teddy has been tucked deep inside a closet.