On cognition

I went to the barbershop today with my dad. One of the barbers had her four year old son there, just hanging out. He made the astute (and correct) observation that my dad and I wear the same shoes. So my dad asked him why.

The kid just didn’t get it. He thought “why” meant why did he say we were wearing matching shoes. So he said something about them looking the same. My dad repeatedly asked why. Each time, the kid responded with another justification explaining that our shoes were matching, not any kind of deeper thought into why our shoes match. Maybe the four-year-old brain can’t comprehend the “why” of a situation. Or maybe he was so unsure of himself that he thinks any question by an adult is questioning his perceptions rather than asking something deeper.

Anyone even a bit older would trivially know that, yes, we are wearing the same shoes, and would realize that is an accepted fact by all parties. The question “why” would thus take on a different, deeper meaning. But there’s something missing in the four-year-old mind.

And if you’re wondering, the reason we wear the same shoes is that my mom bought me this style a while back, and then my dad needed new shoes, and she got him the same thing because they were good. For a couple years since, anytime either of us has needed new shoes, she’s just bought them again by mail order catalog. We’re even the same shoe size. It can get confusing. And no, I don’t really mind not having to shop for shoes; I know what I like, and they’re consistently good. And having someone else pay for them is a nice bonus.

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