Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Curiosity Set My House On Fire

I have been thinking about the concept of curiosity a bit lately. How did I get there you ask? Let me map it out for you.

Braden loves monkeys.
A monkey named George is one of the world's more famous monkeys.
This monkey is well represented in our house.
This so called George is curious.

So as I read to Braden, or more likely to an empty room, about George's troubles my brain wanders off into deeper thoughts on curiosity.  A line in one of the Curious George books we have talks about getting a good nights sleep so George can wake up and be curious and wise.

I think there is no doubt that curiosity in a child is a sign of intelligence.  A curious child has to touch, feel, beat, throw, smell, and taste everything within arms reach.  This is the only way they can learn about the world around them.  Once a curious child has fully investigated something they file it in their memory as a lesson learned and quickly move on to something else.

The same thing goes for watching people.  A curious child watches everything that is happening around them.  They do this in order to learn how they are supposed to act or where they can find certain things.  It's the same way with adults.  Most intelligent people are always searching for answers.  "Just because" does not suffice for an intelligent person. They always wonder why and/or how.

Now the geniuses don't stop there. They may go fly a kite in a thunderstorm or try to invent a flying machine. These are the weirdos though.

Having laid out my theory on curiosity, I now pose another question.  What is the deal with "curiosity killed the cat?" That statement is directly opposed to my theory.  If curiosity helps a child learn then why are we telling them that curiosity kills our feline friends?

Living these past months with a abnormally curious toddler named Braden has given me some insight into that statement.  Curious Braden (CB for short) can drive any person crazy with his nonstop investigations of all things.  He gets his hands on everything in the house.  As he grows taller there is no place safe from his curious grasp.

I'm sure the phrase arose from the frustration some parent felt because of their own little curious child.  Sometimes I feel like telling CB curiosity is going to set the house on fire. Instead I just curl up in a fetal position in the corner and dream of warmer weather when CB can go be curious in the neighbors yard.


Tom said...

So, it wasn't the cat's own curiosity that led to his doom, it was a toddler? You know, I believe that. My five-year-old still hasn't gotten over his deep-rooted compulsion to chase and wound the cat. Excellent insights.

Gucci Mama said...

Hehe. Just wait until you hear, "Daddy, why are we eating lunch? But why is lunch right now? Why am I hungry? Why do all people get hungry? Why do I like peanut butter and jelly? But why I wanna eat it? Why does it go to my tummy? Why just because? Because WHY WHY WHY WHY?" These are fun days. ;)

Katherine said...

Great post! And don't you love how something was safe sitting on the table last week and all of a sudden those tiny curious hands can reach it this week. It's never-ending. I, too, am ready for some outside curiosity!

PJ Mullen said...

Curiosity in toddler is definitely a good thing, but it can so terribly exhausting.

Captain Dumbass said...

What PJ said. Curiosity is tiring.

KWG said...

It's beautiful though, isn't it? Even if it is exhausting. Curiosity sets their brains afire and I dig that. Need some of that mojo.

Rob said...

LOL. Great Post. I agree with Gucci Mama. Wait until Braden can talk then you are really in for a treat. Shaun is 6 and man he can talk you to death. Everything starts with "Hey Dad". When he says that I know I am in trouble. LOL. But that is ok because curiosity and questions is what helps them learn but boy it is tiring sometimes. Good Luck!

Frogs in my formula said...

Don't get me started on Curious George. He's not curious--he's evil. I wish Junior didn't like him so much because I'd ban him from the house. George is never accountable for his actions, and the ends always justify the means.


seashore subjects said...

Exploring outside this spring will be so much fun for him! But you and Arica better get the wipes ready now - he's bound to be messy!

WeaselMomma said...

I thought for sure that as you were pondering on the couch that dinner, having been neglected on the stove, set fire to the kitchen.

John said...

Everyone knows that, despite its supposed nine lives, curiosity killed the cat. Well, not quite. The 'killed the cat' proverb originated as 'care killed the cat'. By 'care' the coiner of the expression meant 'worry/sorrow' rather than our more usual contemporary 'look after/provide for' meaning.

That form of the expression is first recorded in the English playwright Ben Jonson's play Every Man in His Humour, 1598:

"Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care'll kill a Cat, up-tails all, and a Louse for the Hangman."

The play was one of the Tudor humours comedies, in which each major character is assigned a particular 'humour' or trait. The play is thought to have been performed in 1598 by The Lord Chamberlain's Men, a troupe of actors including William Shakespeare and William Kempe. Shakespeare was no slouch when it came to appropriating a memorable line and it crops up the following year in Much Ado About Nothing:

"What, courage man! what though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care."

The proverbial expression 'curiosity killed the cat', which is usually used when attempting to stop someone asking unwanted questions, is much more recent. The earlier form was still in use in 1898, when it was defined in Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable:

"Care killed the Cat. It is said that a cat has nine lives, but care would wear them all out."

Curiosity hasn't received a good press over the centuries. Saint Augustine wrote in Confessions, AD 397, that, in the eons before creating heaven and earth, God "fashioned hell for the inquisitive". John Clarke, in Paroemiologia, 1639 suggested that "He that pryeth into every cloud may be struck with a thunderbolt". In Don Juan, Lord Byron called curiosity "that low vice". That bad opinion, and the fact that cats are notoriously inquisitive, lead to the source of their demise being changed from 'care' to 'curiosity'.

The earliest known printed reference that uses the 'curiosity' form is O. Henry's Schools and Schools, 1909:

"Curiosity can do more things than kill a cat; and if emotions, well recognized as feminine, are inimical to feline life, then jealousy would soon leave the whole world catless."

The earliest version that I have found of the precise current form of the proverb in print is from The Portsmouth Daily Times, March 1915, in a piece headed The Height of Curiosity:

Mother - "Don't ask so many questions, child. Curiosity killed the cat."

Willie - "What did the cat want to know, Mom?"

The frequent rejounder to 'curiosity killed the cat' is 'satisfaction brought it back'. I've not been able to trace the source of this odd reply. The first citation of it that I've found in print is from an Iowan college magazine The Coe College Cosmos, in February 1933.


Cue NBC "More You Know" Music

Otter Thomas said...

Holy crap! Somehow an educated person wandered into our silly little world.

surprised mom said...

I like this post! Yes, thinking back I remember the curiosity of a toddler. Yes, it's exhausting, but it can fill you with wonder as you watch your little one discover the world.