The Preschooler walked into the living room with purpose, which is one of six ways a young child enters a room. The others are ambling, sprinting, skipping, diving and backward. I know because I've lived with preschoolers in their natural habitat, like Jane Goodall with the chimps, although she had it easier.
"I need to watch TV," my daughter said.
People need food, water and sleep. Do they need TV? I'm not sure where "Dora the Explorer" fits into Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
"Why do you need to watch TV?" I asked.
"Hurry. There's not much time. It's already 9, or maybe 6:30."
It was, in fact, 3:15 p.m. and we'd just gotten home from school. Time, to children, is impossible to comprehend. For example, to a kid 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. are the same. Sure, the sun is on opposite sides of the house, but if a 5-year-old knows east from west they're probably a witch and will someday enter politics.
There is a marked difference between Adult Knowledge and Child Knowledge, and I'm certain life would be a lot simpler if we lived in a world that operated under the laws of a 5-year-old. Such as:
• Time doesn't exist. Dinnertime could mean lunch or supper, but is actually whenever you're hungry. Years, months, weeks, hours and minutes are the same unit of measurement so when parents say Christmas is a month away, they may well mean tomorrow or five minutes from last Tuesday. "Soon" is the most consistent way for a child to measure time because it means "never."
• Money is an abstract concept, like infinity or Bigfoot. Money may be real because big people discuss it, but none of your peers have ever really seen money except when the Tooth Fairy stops by.
• Speaking of real, the Tooth Fairy is. So are Santa, the Easter Bunny and Felves (more on Felves later). Ethereal beings that leave presents when you're asleep at least make some kind of sense. Other beings, such as the president, do not.
• A person can become invisible at will. Simply telling someone to stop looking at you bends light in such a way they can't see a human body under a blanket. Much like a deer hiding from a predator, if you can't see them, they can't see you.
• Food comes from the refrigerator, which is filled by farmers, or possibly elves. Maybe even a combination of the two: Felves. Felves provide parents the necessary items to construct supper, then these farm elves magically transform supper into leftovers that have all the good bits picked out. For example, spaghetti and meatballs. It enters the refrigerator when you go to sleep and amazingly it's just spaghetti by morning.
• Cookies and a kiss on the forehead make owies feel better. This knowledge would have helped me through my vasectomy.
• Job satisfaction. In the course of one day, you can be a Jedi knight, a teacher, a WWE wrestler, a fireman, a robot, a fry cook and Godzilla. At this job you're always the boss and being late to work simply means you got to nap. And who doesn't need a nap?
By the way, I'm late for mine. Would you look at the clock? It's already 9, or maybe 6:30.
Jason Offutt’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.