Friday, March 12, 2010


"Ing. Whee!"

A few months ago, I read an article about Emotional Quotient (EQ), which is like IQ, but pertains to the emotional side of intelligence and cognition. In other words, Emotional Intelligence is one's ability to assess and manage one's emotions, and some argue it might be more important than IQ. I am certainly not an expert in this area, and it is a facet of psychology that is not free from criticism. However, it seems rather important (to me) for a child to be sensitive about others' feelings and to be able to express how they are feeling themselves.

Penny has been thinking a lot about feelings lately. She used to laugh if she saw another kid crying or yelling or expressing an emotion, because it was unexpected, and (probably) genuinely funny. But now, if she overhears a baby crying, she says, with wide eyes, "Baby crying? Sad?" We were walking through a parking lot and overheard a woman yelling angrily into her cell phone. Penny looked at me for an explanation, and I told her the woman was mad. She thought about that for a little while, furrowed her brow, and said, "Mad." She saw a kid run into his sister with a shopping cart at the store, and overheard him apologize, saying it was an accident. So Penny has reviewed that incident several times at home, saying, "Elbow, cart. I sorry, ah-ee-dent."

She's also been giving human characteristics to inanimate objects. She grouped her blueberries together while she was eating them, saying the big blueberry was the daddy, and they were "walking" to the corners of her tray, because they were going "home." Later, she had two spoons, which were "dancing" and then "sleeping."

Anthropomorphism is not unfamiliar territory for me. As a child, I used to feel sorry for garbage in the trash, wondering if the discarded things were lonely in the bin. At restaurants, I used to pretend the salt and pepper shakers were getting married (the bride being the salt, obviously). This trait runs strongly in my family, so I suspect Penny has inherited the propensity for it. Or maybe she has a really good imagination? Maybe it is the same thing.

This may be related to the inordinate amount of time she has devoted to playing with her "House," which is the Fisher Price house my sisters and I had when we were little. I love that house. The garage door raises up and the doorbell is a little bell that really dings. Penny's little family of cats has moved in, so they have crazy adventures every day (which mostly involve sleeping and waking up), and I have to pry Penny from it to get her ready for bed.

Best toy ever, brought to you by the 1980s.

Other amusing things overheard this week:

"Oh, maaan!" (Heard at least 100 times).
"I hiding!"
"Ah want more cereal. Put milk in it."
"Uv you, mama."

It's getting really fun around here, and it almost makes me want to have another kid. Almost.


Ashley said...

Oh, yes... anthropomorphizing everything. Sigh. So many stories to tell... we'll have to compare notes someday. In the meantime, check out Jonathan Franzen's awesome article about the Peanuts comic strip from the New Yorker a few years back. About halfway down this page he describes the "feeling sorry" thing very well.

Ironic collector said...

Did anyone else have a habit of buying the broken toys, because you thought no one else would, and they really needed a home? My adopting the three-legged dog has nothing to do with this...

Be Like the Squirrel, Girl said...

Ash, thanks for the great link. The bit about the washcloths at the bottom of the stack really hit close to home.

Mags - our grandpa used to bring home perfectly good (but discarded and worn out) toys. So he probably felt the same way. And while we're on the subject of discarded toys, The Velveteen Rabbit breaks my heart. Ugh! I'm not sure I will ever be able to read it to Penny without bawling.

Anonymous said...

I still get a little tear in my little eye when I read Owl at Home / Tear-Water Tea by Arnold Lobel. Owl feels sorry for mornings that nobody saw because everybody was sleeping and pencils that are too short to use!

I could make a gallon of this tea just by thinking of all the sad and joyful things in our lives.


Your Sis

Suzi said...

Hi Katie! I bookmarked Penny's blog long ago but haven't looked at it in awhile.

A book you might enjoy abt emotional intelligence- Building Healthy Minds by Stanley Greenspan (my guru).

Penny is just so wonderful. You are a lucky family!