Driving my son to fencing practice last night, he began talking about civilization. At first I thought it was just iPad withdrawal, but turns out he was going somewhere with it.
I have to paraphrase here because honestly, I wasn’t actually listening in the beginning. I tuned in off and on and it went something like this
“…. where we came from…” “… like from another planet, because there are a lot of planets and we still don’t know everything that’s out there…” “.. how I got here. I just wish I knew where we came from, you know?”
This was obviously the answer portion of the show.
“You mean like reincarnation?” (a topic of discussion last week)
“Yea.. sorta… but like where people came from. I wish we knew how we got here.”
How can he not know this at 10? Have I been that negligent that these basic concepts were left out?
“Honey .. we know where we came from. There has been lots and lots of science that tells us our history and how we got here.”
silence…. which, if you live with a ten year old boy who plays Minecraft and video games, you know this is not usually a positive reaction.
…. ?? hello?
And it dawned on me that he didn’t really want to seem out of the loop, but since it is a huge loop, more of a sphere, I delved into the very limited information I have on the topic. I was cursing myself for not paying more attention in Ancient Civilization in high school.
We talked about evolution. We talked about early humans. We talked about evolution and early humans. This somehow segwayed into a conversation about language. He wanted to know how language becomes established. Thankfully this I had slightly more information on based on having a near certification for Interpreting.
I explained how language is an ever-evoloving thing. There is no set permanent language because it’s constantly reflecting society.
Language is a result of the culture that establishes and uses it. Think about the word “Cold” or “snow”. Do you think Alaskans have more words used for that or Arizonians? We went on to discuss how the culture determines the usage and rules of a word.
He was still spinning on the fact that words are still being created. “Can I create a word?” “Only if you can find a massive group of people to all use it the same way you do, and then they influence and cause millions more to use it all in a common way.”
“Take ‘Selfie’ for example. This was not a word before smart phones. There were people flipping cameras around to take photos of themselves, yes. I was/am a master at this. It just didn’t have a name until people began using smart phones, apps, taking pictures of themselves en masse. Instead of always saying ‘I’m taking a picture of myself.’ it evolved down to just a single word. A word everyone uses for the same thing.”
We talked about how words get added to the dictionary every year because society and culture is always finding a new way to describe something. We talked about certain things being invented long ago that forever changed society. Fire. The wheel.
It was quite a cerebral conversation for a non-college educated mom and her ten year old son.
And this, my friends, is what can happen when you travel without an iPad. (because your son lost privileges due to behaving like a rabid beast every morning before school)
Don’t get me wrong, this conversation could have played out in a million ways. 999,998 of them being about Minecraft in one way or another. Also, I could have tuned in and out of whatever current story is being written in his brain. This one time it was educational and interesting and I actually found a topic I didn’t have to bullshit my way through entirely! SCORE!