"It's not a caterpiller, it's a mermaid."--Nike, my four-year-old brother
I think about tiny children and their method of thought a lot. My Mom says there's an age, thirteen or fourteen, when kids actual develop the capacity for "rational" thought, and before that logic literally escapes them. My godfather--a wise fellow--says, "Babies are just as smart as anyone else, they just don't know anything."
Kids always seem to skip fifteen when they're learning to count. And I think I may have figured out why. (I may be deluding myself, but here we go.)
Fifteen and sixteen sound quite similar, especially from a distance. We make a lot of errors in speech, which we'll correct without preamble or pause. I think that small children are assuming that fifteen is an error in speech. And, therefore, logically, ought to be omitted.
An example of a child imitating for their behavior: the sound of R, as in round trip, and road kill, is a flaw in speech. It's a back of the throat sound, which started as a more front of the mouth sound; trilled, quick, or almost left out. W, as in wyvvern and wiley coyote, looks externally like R. So kids say, "wode wunner," "twiple play," "you pwetentious pwig." R is an unintuitive bad habit which must be learned.
Maybe fifteen is too.
Okay, that's sort of a stretch.
Other studies say that a child younger than nine months can be shown an object and two holes--hole 1, hole 2. The object is placed in hole one, and the child goes and gets it there. Then the object is taken away from the child. When they've quieted down, the object is placed, while they're watching, in hole 2. They go and look for it in hole 1, and don't find it. No matter how many times you show them that you put it in hole 2, they look in hole 1. There's only a period of about a month when kids are nine months old when this phenomenon is true. After that, they can reason out that a thing is where it gets put when it's moved around, and not merely where they found it the first time.... I'm not sure what, if anything, this says about the human animal in general. Except maybe that hope springs eternal. If we find twenty dollars in our jacket pocket one day, we'll keep looking even if we know for certain we didn't put a twenty in there recently.
Nike has just asked me if I could play with him. I said, "No. I'm busy." He said, "Awe, darn. Oh well." Almost verbatum.... I then said, "I can in a little bit, after I finish what I'm doing." He said, "Yay. Let's go now." I said, "No, I have to finish this." He said, "No, come now."