My four-year old son is not buying my stalling tactics any more. It used to be that if he really wanted something at the store I could say, "next time" and that would suffice. If he wanted to play a certain game, I could say, "tomorrow" and he was good with that and this is mostly because he had no long-term memory and no sense of time.
Now he wants to know WHEN. "When next time? When is tomorrow?" He's got morning, noon and night down pat. He associates those times logically with breakfast, lunch and dinner. So now I specify ‘later' with phrases like ‘after dinner'. And he remembers. Oh, let me tell you how he remembers!
As soon as we sit down for dinner he announces that we will be eating candy for dessert. Then, as soon as his plate is clean he declares, "Candy time!" and Lord help us all if I don't keep my end of the bargain.
Now he's trying to figure out days of the week. If I say we'll go to the park ‘tomorrow' he'll ask what day that is. "Tuesday," I'll tell him. Then he gets up in the morning and asks me if it is Tuesday already. He's ready to go to the park as soon as he gets his clothes on, forget about breakfast. I'm not ready to go until ‘later.'
He's figured out that Dad stays home on Saturday and Sunday, but he doesn't know when those days will be. So every morning when he gets up and sees that Dad has left for work, he knows it's one of those other days…and so far they don't matter much because when Dad's home we play video games. When Dad goes to work, Mom makes a big mess of things and then puts it all back where it belongs. She calls this cleaning and it's boring.
So I have to be choosier with my delays and start naming months. He has no idea about those yet. "Momma, can we go to the air show again tomorrow?"
"Is that tomorrow?"
"No, it's a long time from now."
"When is that?"
"When you are five." He realizes that's a long way off and sometime after his birthday. But now that his long-term memory is kicking in he'll probably blow out the candles on his birthday cake and tell me I'm taking him to the air show, which I will have forgotten by then because my long-term memory is going.
As my son develops a sense of time he's moving on to developing a sense of direction.
"Momma, where are you going?"
"Can I come?"
"Sure! You're driving."
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