I remember watching a show on Treehouse TV with my daughter when she was just under two and a half. The show was called, This is Emily Yeung. (It still comes on Treehouse TV. And we still watch it together.) All of a sudden, my daughter jumped up from the couch, ran over to the TV and pointed at the little girl and said, “Mommy, look! That’s Emily and I’m Emily. But that’s a different Emily. She has different hair than me. And she’s bigger than me.” Then she returned to the couch, cuddled into my side and continued watching the show.
When we started watching it together (she was probably about two at the time), I mentioned casually that the little girl in the show had the same name as her. These passing comments did exactly that (I thought). They passed right over my daughter’s head. Or maybe they passed through her mind and got stuck there for later use.
About six months later, she made the connection. The tidbit of information about her name that I had lodged in her brain at the age of two, had become dislodged and had floated into an area of her brain that was ready to accept and process the reality of more than one Emily in the world.
I don’t know officially when this realization starts or happens with kids. I’ve Googled it, but I can’t find any supporting documentation on the topic. (I’m sure I’m just using the wrong keywords.) I have heard that 2-year-olds in general still think the world revolves around them and, though they may have a little understanding of goings on outside of their immediate spheres, they don’t quite get that they are not the center of the universe.
And I was sharply reminded of that when my two-year-old son reacted badly to a TV show he and I were watching on the Family Channel about a boy and his pet dinosaur. (The show was called, Henry’s World.)
The dinosaur’s name was Luke. So is my son’s.
He kept pointing at the TV and then pointing at himself and saying (with the saddest big brown eyes), “No Mommy. Luke not dinosaur. Luke me.”
Now, remember, this is my second child. With my daughter (my first), I was quick to engage with her. I was always passing on bits of information about the things that she saw around her. Sometimes she would pick up on my comments and I would elaborate. Sometimes things just settled in her mind until she needed the information later.
But with baby number 2, as many mothers know, you’re more relaxed. You don’t necessarily spend all of your time “teaching” your child. You tend to let #2 do more exploring on their own, figuring things out for themselves.
So I haven’t been passing little comments about other “Lukes” onto my son. I kind of took it for granted that he already knew there were other Lukes around. (I think Luke—or a variation of Luke—was a popular name over the last few years.) Especially since we have five friends with sons named Luke, Luca, Luc or Lucas.
From experience, I know that, in about six months, my Luke will probably think that it’s cool that he shares his name with a dinosaur on TV. But right now, it’s not cool. It’s very upsetting and it made him cry.
It reminded me of the wonderful side of being two and thinking you are the center of the universe. This is the only point in his life that thinking he is the center of the universe is going to be OK. (He may think that later on. But fewer people, if any, will tolerate it. 😉 ) But it’s also the point at which, in all his uniqueness, he is developing a sense of himself. And he thinks he’s pretty AWESOME…and that’s GREAT! We think he’s pretty awesome, too!