Phone Call From a Three Year Old

A 3 year old called me on the shovel phone in the sandbox the other day. I was talking to another teacher and I heard a little, sweet voice calling out,

“Ding a ling. Ding a ling, calling Kathy. Calling Kathy.”
I quickly reached for my air phone, “Hello. Who’s calling?”
“Me. Rhoda.”
“Hey Rhoda, what’s up?”
“Yes. I have to go for my walk AND I need to go to the grocery. I need more time.”
“Okay. How do you get more time?”
“You give it to me.”
“Oh. Okay. Here. I give you more time.”
“No. I needs LOTSA time. I have to go for my walk AND go to the grocery. That takes LOTSA time.”
“Okay. I give you LOTSA time. As much as you need.”
“Thanks. I’ll call you later. If I have enough time.”

She threw the shovel phone over her shoulder and it landed in a bucket.

She walked away. I hung up my air phone and looked at the other teacher. Both of us were smiling. 

(The bucket she threw the shovel phone into was sitting in a hole left over from excavating for treasure. Treasure like sea shells and sparkly glass stones. Sometimes the kids find a buried walnut. Which is equivalent to gold. In case you didn’t know. Check back next week for this theme in my blog!!!)

How often do you say, or hear someone else say, “I just don’t have time.”? Or, “I need more hours in a day.”? Perhaps it’s the classic “My, time has flown by!” (Interesting mythology on that one: Chronos…an old bald man with wings , hence Time flies!)

creative commons image

(Creative Commons image on Google Images)

How could little 3 year old Rhoda need more time? Of course she doesn’t…she’s role playing, repeating what she hears. It’s clear people in her life are longing for more time.

What do we miss in life as time goes flying by us so swiftly? What would happen if we “could just catch up”? What kind of experiences would we have in life, that we don’t have now, if we caught up to our life, ourselves, time…?

In 2011 a study was done on the Amazonian Amondawa tribe in South America. This tribe had been isolated until 1986 when it was first discovered. They have a different concept of “time”. While they talk about events and sequences of events, they do not have the sense that “time” is something events occur in. No weeks, months or years, no ages. To mark different stages in their lives or status in their community they change their name! A young child will give up his/her name to a newborn and take a new name. There is no construct for an event having “passed”, or being “well ahead” of another. They do not have a concept of time as something that can be measured, counted or talked about in the abstract.

What if we understood time differently? Would we be rushed? Would we lament “Lost time can never be found again.”? Dr. Seuss marveled “How did it get so late so soon?” Ever thought “I’m out of time.”?  Would our self esteem, body image, heck…our image of beauty change if we did not acknowledge age as “getting on in years” but as something different? What would “old age” or “passed their prime” mean? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to never have to wish you could “turn back the hands of time”?

Professor Chris Sinha, of the University of Portsmouth writes, “We have so many metaphors for time and its passing – we think of time as a ‘thing’ – we say ‘the weekend is nearly gone’, ‘she’s coming up to her exams’, ‘I haven’t got the time’, and so on, and we think such statements are objective, but they aren’t. We’ve created these metaphors and they have become the way we think,” he adds. “The Amondawa don’t talk like this and don’t think like this, unless they learn another language. For these fortunate people time isn’t money; they aren’t racing against the clock to complete anything, and nobody is discussing next week or next year; they don’t even have words for ‘week’, ‘month’ or ‘year’. You could say they enjoy a certain freedom.”

In 2011 there were fewer than 100 Amondawa living. Most likely their language become extinct as they assimilate into the more modern world and learn the Portuguese language.

Would Rhoda be able to get her walk in and get to the grocery without needing losta more time? What would it be like not to feel like time was flying or worry about getting something done by the deadline next week….no word for week remember? We wouldn’t have to wish for more hours in the day, because neither exist.

Maybe this is a good plug for mindfulness and living in and being present in the moment…?




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