Thursday, October 14, 2010

Too young for Irony?!

Little Miss Thang, ironic since birth
Yesterday I read an article in the New York Times discussing the age at which children actually begin to understand irony -- Too Young for School, but Ready for Irony by Nicholas Bakalar. It was formerly thought that children could not understand irony until they obtained fluency in their language skills. Laboratory studies previously demonstrated virtually no understanding of irony until at least age 6 and then only a slight understanding until age 12. A group of Canadian researchers, however, recently concluded that children, even very young children, understand hyperbole, rhetorical questions and sarcasm.

Seriously?!  It took transcribing more than 350 hours of speech to reach this conclusion?! They could have saved a whole lot of time, money and energy by just spending one night at my house for dinner. Irony, indeed. Last night's dinner provided a spectacular cacophony of literary drama. Hyperboles abounded, sarcasm resounded. My rhetorical questions were met, not with scared faces, but with fits of laughter followed by implausible retorts.

My duo is 7, but I assure you and the fine researchers of this fact: they get irony. In fact, they mastered the use of sarcasm by age 3. I kid you not. Last night as I was tucking Little Miss Thang into bed we were talking about only using kind words to our family and friends. I stressed the need to watch our words carefully to ensure we do not hurt others with them. She listened intently, knowing I had had enough of the games.

I then asked: "Tomorrow will you try harder to use nice words?"

I pause. Waiting for the appropriate, "Yes, ma'am."

Her response: "Mom, I cannot see into the future. I don't know what I will do tomorrow."

Irony, indeed.

16 comments:

Vic said...

Kids are by far the smartest most sarcastic human beings....haha:) gotta love em!:)

Kara B said...

Oh yes, I agree whole heartedly! My 18 month old has already blown me away by his humor and use of figurative language.Thanks for sharing. Kid moments are always a pleasure.

Mommy Lisa said...

Cute. And true.

Krysten said...

Following you from Thirsty Thursday!

Best,
Krysten
http://www.clickableparty.blogspot.com

JustMom420zaks said...

I love that response. From the mouths of babes!

Janet said...

Oh, that is too funny! I wouldn't have known whether to crack up laughing or be upset with her for talking back.

Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! said...

I tried to keep a straight face, but I laughed.

Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) said...

So literal too. I love it! I love her toothless smile too, reminds me of my son.

Ali said...

bwahahahaha! please ask her if she'll be my BFF!

Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! said...

Oh, she will be your BFF. I'm pretty sure she thinks she is 30.

Ali said...

and *I* think i'm 7! win/win!

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Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! said...

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Not Just Another Jennifer said...

Ha, ha! Our 3-year-old always surprises me with how much she understands. Stumbled you from Liz's BlogFrog!

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