You and I are Knowers of Two. Your grandmother is a Knower of Two. The chick who cuts your hair is a Knower of Two. That weird guy at the gym is a Knower of Two. The President is a Knower of Two.
Evie, however, is not a Knower of Two.
“But Evie is a genius-child!” you say. “How can she not know?”
Evie is indeed a genius-child who knows many things. She knows the color orange. She knows her name. She can count to two. But she is not a Knower of Two.
Stay with me on this.
You see, if you were to give Evie ten coins and tell her to show you “1”, she would probably hand you a single coin. If you were to tell her to show you “2”, she would likely hand you the rest of the coins. Or she might take the one she just handed you back. Or she might sing a song. She would do this because she only understands numbers as a list of words one says in a certain order. She doesn’t understand numbers as units of measurement that are in that specific order because they represent an increasing quantity. To her the difference between 1 and 2 might as well be the same as the difference between 1 and 10.
(Incidentally, you should not conduct the above experiment with Evie using coins. If you do, she will immediately put one or more of said coins in her mouth, causing you and your spouse to freak right the hell out. Your spouse will then quickly shove his finger into Evie’s mouth to retrieve the coins before she swallows them. Evie will see and hear your frantic reaction and begin to wail and sob uncontrollably. So. Just don’t it. Use Cheerios instead.)
What must it be like to have a brain that’s pretty much a blank slate? Evie has no preconceived notions about how to think. Numbers and letters have no meaning for her, so they could mean anything. Her whole world is one big possibility.
You and I and the lady at a the post office are very definite about what things should mean, and we forget that at one time our minds were empty vessels like Evie’s. There was a time before we went to school and learned the proper way to count and to read and do long division. A time before we were taught the correct way to think and how to interpret and make meaning of the things around us. And, okay, a time before we were conditioned and programmed, if you wanna get all 1984 about it.
Evie has been through none of this yet. So, how does Evie look at the world? Well, she interprets things very literally. If Mimi tells her the spoon she’s holding is a “big spoon”, she immediately takes it to Big, who is sitting innocently on the couch not desiring any kind of spoon at all, because Mimi has told her it’s a “Big Spoon.”
She also sees events in terms of the infinite and the finite. If Elmo is on the TV, that means he lives there. And if you turn the TV off, Elmo is gone for good, and life as we know it may as well end because what good is a world without Elmo anyway?
The upside of all this is, to Evie, everything is full of wonder. The world is a magical place. The stars and the moon shining in the dark sky are amazing to look at. The little star-shaped dots of frost on the car on cold winter mornings are so pretty. All of her stuffed animals and baby dolls are real. Her daddy can make her fly. Eating cookies is truly a religious experience.
Evie is not a Knower of Two. I don’t know about you, but I want to be more like Evie.
***Full disclosure*** I totally stole this idea from Evie’s daddy who got it from a story he heard on Nerdy Public Radio (NPR). So, thanks, sweetie for the post. Love ya! Mean it!