Time, not linear after all?

At what age do kids have an understanding of time and how it operates?

I remember thinking, at around age seven, that I went to school half the year and that the other half of the year was defined as that marvelous, magical season called summer. I have no idea how or why I thought that, but trust me when I say I was devastated to learn that summer vacation was a measly 2 1/2 months long.

I also recall my mother telling me to stop asking "when when when" and "now? how about now?" all the time. One day she said, "I'm going to tell you when five minutes is up. Starting now." It seemed like about a week passed. Maybe it did - she's tricky that way.

In any case, I know that kids have a screwy view of the progression of time, because I know I had that same view. However, I don't recall how long that state lasted.

Here are my daughter's definitions of various measurements of time:

"On this day" = today

"On the next day" = tomorrow or any day after that

"Last year" = yesterday or any day prior to that, dating back to Biblical times

"Almost Halloween" = From November 1st up to (and including) October 30th (she wants to be Belle for Halloween this year and has been nagging her Meemaw about making her the costume since well before last year's jack-o-lanterns had rotted on the porch).

We also still struggle with her disbelief that P and I existed before she was born. A friend of mine is coming for a visit and I mentioned to my daughter that my friend and I have known each other since he and I were 14. She asked, "Was I your daughter when you were 14?" When I informed her that she wasn't even close to existing at that point, she got pretty pissy about it.

She also seems to believe that she doesn't necessarily have to keep aging, that she might decide to go in the opposite direction at some point. She sometimes alludes to the fact that she may be a baby again the future. I hope she doesn't plan to pee and poop herself quite so much this go-round - I kinda got my fill of it the first time.

That's a free spirit for you - not even time can hold her down, man!


Jen J said…
I think it's sometime around 1st or 2nd grade - when they learn how to tell time in school. I have a friend who has a son about that age and she suddenly learned last week that she can no longer say to him "give me five minutes & when that's up I'll come find you." I don't know, maybe he's in third grade... anyway... she knew that she was screwed when he came back & said "Mom! It's been five minutes."

As far as the whole "almost Halloween" and understanding the calendar year... I think that takes a bit longer.... This same friend's son has already asked permission to write a letter to Santa.

I still don't believe that my parents REALLY had a life before I was born... I mean... OK... I'm kidding. That's hard to wrap their heads around. Good luck! You have a few more years.
That's describes our Olivia to a tee about. I got a good laugh out this one. When Olivia wants to tell us the time that it is or when something will start (such as a movie) she currently is telling us it is "38" or it will be "38". I think you get the point.
Steph K said…
Chloe finally started to understand time in 5K. (At least days of the week.) So she can grasp that if today is Monday and we are going somewhere on Saturday, she has several days to wait.

Craig is really having a hard time with the concept of "bigger" vs. "older". No matter how many times we explain it, the connection just isn't there yet.
Just Lisa said…
Allie is also very confused about time-- she asks nearly every day, "is it Saturday?" And I'll say, "no baby, Saturday is (two, three, four) days away." She doesn't get it.

It's especially hard when Wylee goes away on business trips!

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