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Friday, August 30, 2013

Thinking about Thought Bubbles - The Genius of a Kid

My child went totally philosophically meta on my yesterday. I was sitting outside, thinking about dull, adult things, sipping on my mundane Gatorade, and she came out to see me. And out of nowhere, she asked me this question:

"Mom," she said, "I'm thinking about thinking bubbles."

Mmhmm, I murmured, not particularly paying attention.

"Does that mean I have a thinking bubble inside my thinking bubble?"

And the consciousness of consciousness required to make such a statement floored me. I swear, I just grinned at her like a dumb fool for a minute before I could think of a reply.

Then, of course, like the good mother I am, I posted her genius up on Facebook. I got a great meme reply from my friend Andy, who said:

"Yo dawg, I heard you liked thought bubbles so I put a bubble in your bubble so you can think while you think."

Which is hilarious, but draws a really good point out. Repetition and patterns of inside the inside are not new. We do it with mirrors, with photographs, with that "yo dawg" guy...why has no one ever done a thought bubble inside a thought bubble?

This is perfect Bugs Bunny material here. Back when the narrator was erasing him and stuff, it goes along those lines, don't you think? Or the Road Runner running through Wile E. Coyote's painting. It all connects. But no one has done it. (At least according to my Google search.)

The closest I could find was a philosophical cartoonist in England. He did this:

Courtesy Chris Madden at

And, really, it's not the same thing. This picture shows someone thinking about a man thinking. Even if it were the man himself, thinking about himself thinking, he's placed his own image in the picture (very adult, in my opinion). My child didn't think of herself thinking. She thought of thinking. My child did this:

Go ahead and do a search. No one has ever drawn that before (at least that they put on the Internet).

I know, it seems silly, really. Ridiculous, maybe. But it's not. The intensity of thought required to come up with an original idea is staggering.

At five years old, my kid, so far as I can see, came up with an original idea.

...which puts her one ahead of me.

I'm pretty amazed.

The take home message here being, listen to your kids. Yes, they talk a lot but they're usually reasoning through things, trying to grapple with their reality and how things fit into the world they see versus what they are told about that world. And that's an important step. Not just for kids. For everyone.



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