I asked Joey a somewhat mundane question and he gave me the same look he always gives me when I ask a mundane question. “100” he replied. “100 oops.”
This reply made. no. sense. I think I’d even asked a yes or no question. Joey is completely capable of answering yes or no questions. 100 oops? Really?
Later on, that night at dinner, my own daughter, a month younger than Joey, used the phrase “a billion poops”. After she was quickly disciplined for using potty language at the table, I found myself once again smiling at how similar she is with Joey in five year old development.
Every number answer my five year old says is “a billion.” “Do you want one graham cracker or two?” A billion. Every big number she comes up with is a billion. “Mommy, are you a billion years old?” “I have a billion emotions today.”
Joey’s communication device, of course, does not go up to a billion. It merely offers 100. And that being the biggest, greatest number Joey can express, it will have to do. “100.” “89” “100 oops”.
Oops is another of Joey’s new favorite words, and so I suppose, answering “100 oops” is similar to “a billion poops”. It’s the five year old version of “I’m done with this conversation. If I was 18 I’d start checking snapchat, but instead I’m going to be dramatic with my words.”
So why use big numbers in expressing such displeasure? Neither Joey or nor my daughter full understands the meaning of 100 yet.
There is, of course, a reason why all the kindergarten classrooms celebrate the 100th day of school. 100 is a hard number for kids to wrap their heads around. When you are five, 100 seems really, really big. Like it doesn’t actually correspond to any set amount of things – it just means BIG.
Like most preschoolers, Joey has yet to celebrate the 100th day of school and has not yet made cheerio necklaces using exactly 100 cheerios, or had his mother carefully sew 100 sequins on a shirt (you know, pinterest may be ruining the 100th day), or counting 100 books he’s read. He hasn’t seen baggy after baggy of 100 legos to understand that 100 isn’t that big. (Oh the things we learn in kindergarten!)
While we wait for Joey to participate in 100 day of school activities, I have to remember that his (and my daughter’s) off-hand comments using the biggest numbers they can find are a part of their development. They are exploring a concept, and using this abstract idea of an ambiguous amount to express themselves. 100 oops is another way to say “I’m really, really bored.”
It may be on track developmentally, but part of development is also learning that we can’t always say things and get out of our work. I smiled at Joey (and my daughter) for expressing themselves, and then repeated the set expectations. 100 oops or not, we have lots of work to do.