Why, to a five-year-old, does waiting a year feel like an eternity; while an 80-year-old feels a year goes by in the wink of an eye?

I wonder if the answer is a math problem.

To a five-year-old, a year is one fifth of life lived; while a year in the life of an eighty-year-old is only one-eightieth of time served.

21 Comments

  1. Well said. I’m going to have to agree with your last statement because it really does make the most sense. When you’ve only lived 5 years that 1 year is almost all they know or even remember. Anyway, nice point made.

  2. Well said. I’m going to have to agree with your last statement because it really does make the most sense. When you’ve only lived 5 years that 1 year is almost all they know or even remember. Anyway, nice point made.

  3. I just thought of something and I will share it with Erik when he wakes up (we’re both sick). Maybe this whole “time” thing explains a lot of his daughter’s problems since he left. He’s been gone 3 years which probably feels more like a decade to her and he learned recently that when someone leaves to a child it’s as if they disappear entirely. Hmmm.

  4. I just thought of something and I will share it with Erik when he wakes up (we’re both sick). Maybe this whole “time” thing explains a lot of his daughter’s problems since he left. He’s been gone 3 years which probably feels more like a decade to her and he learned recently that when someone leaves to a child it’s as if they disappear entirely. Hmmm.

  5. Robin/Robin! — I think with especially young children who have no sense of time or history waiting even 30 days is an eternity to them because it is an eternity to them based on how long they’ve been here. Santa Claus and birthdays rightly “take forever” to arrive because they have no psychic sense of time or place or history. You are precisely right that 3 years to, say, a 6-year-old is half her life on earth — the same as 40 years for our eighty-year-old — and that Timebending is rough on children and we need to realize they need extra help in understanding how time compresses and stretches even though it can’t even begin to creak for them yet.
    Dave! — I like your anticipation argument! Very interesting concept. I’m not ready to get old yet, either, but I do admit the years and months and days are flying by even faster now.

  6. Ok now I just depressed my boyfriend 🙁 but then again it’s not all his fault.
    But I just thought about the fact that the older you get the busier you get. As a kid each day is filled with new possibilities when being an adult we usually have the whole day filled

  7. Ok now I just depressed my boyfriend 🙁 but then again it’s not all his fault.
    But I just thought about the fact that the older you get the busier you get. As a kid each day is filled with new possibilities when being an adult we usually have the whole day filled

  8. Ooops I didn’t finish that thought and it entered it for me. Anyway we’re all so busy everyday as an adult with work, errands, etc. that each day just flies by. Ahhh to be a kid and not have all that responsibility.

  9. Robin/Robin — I’m sorry your boyfriend is depressed, but knowing how kids perceive time may help him help her through any rough feelings she may have. Yes, adults have busy lives, but so do many children! The difference is in the ability to know there’s an end in sight and that nothing lasts forever.

  10. Robin/Robin — I’m sorry your boyfriend is depressed, but knowing how kids perceive time may help him help her through any rough feelings she may have. Yes, adults have busy lives, but so do many children! The difference is in the ability to know there’s an end in sight and that nothing lasts forever.

  11. That’s good to know, Robin!
    When children say “I haven’t seen you forever” they mean it!
    I also think the lack of living on a timeline is why children have a hard time remembering people once they leave their daily lives — there is so much new information to process and learn every day only the vibrant stuff of the moment is able to be stored and recalled — so when Dad goes away for a weekend and comes back recognized as stranger it is traumatic for everyone… but it shouldn’t be traumatic because that’s how children process their experience of expressed time.

  12. That is a disaster, Robin. I feel for you all. The “brush off” many adults give to children is “you’ll understand when you’re older” which is the hope, if not the cross-fingered possibility that as time lengthens for children and they begin to build a history they will be able to be healed by the distance of time. The problem is those early, unfulfilled yearnings for intimacy and immediacy are never really ever healed by just waiting — it takes active intervention to make them better.

  13. That is true. Just listen to the song Daughters by John Mayer and it says it all. I’ll truly be shocked if she doesn’t have serious issues with guys when she’s older. Hopefully he’ll get the chance to make it up to her if her mother allows it.

  14. I agree there is a high risk she may seek to replace the lost love of her father with a boyfriend. Your boyfriend needs to try to set it right with her somehow. He needs to find a reliable way to reach out to her without being censored by the mother. It could be something as simple as a blog called “To the Daughter I Love” and every day he would make an entry for her to read when she is ready and old enough to see it. She can then page back through the archives that might stretch into years and see a sustained effort to connect with her and to publicly express how much he adores her and thinks about her. That blog, or whatever form this verifiable form of contact might take, must always be positive and never negative against anyone, especially the mother, because that will always backfire. Don’t allow comments. Just let it be a public expression of the private bond between father and daughter.

  15. Something that is third-party verifiable (Google, you, me, etc.) and that is public is a perfect way to be on-the-record — so no other parties can claim neglect or purposeful distance or intentional disconnection or try an accusation of fakery of an “instant 10 year journal” — with his dedication and connection to her and the daughter doesn’t have to believe your or me… she can Google it all herself and see precisely how it has all been preserved for her with love and attention. Every day he could share with her something he wants her to know.

  16. 5 year old do not have an undertanding of time, either. It’s as if time hasn’t been programed into their brains just yet, and in order for the “time program” to be installed, the 5 year old needs more experience. Ironic, but that’s the only way it could go.