A short conversation about infinity

“Hey, Kid. What’s the biggest  number you can think of?”

“Infinity.”

“Oh. What does infinity look like?”

“It’s a 1 with a hundred 0’s after it.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t think infinity is a number.”

“Huh?”

“It’s a concept.”

“It’s a number.”

“I disagree.”

“You are wrong, Mom.”

“Maybe. It happens. What do you want for breakfast?”

“English muffin. No, bagel. No, English muffin AND a bagel.”

“Let’s just start with the English muffin then see where things go.”

“Okay.”

(Mathematically…infinity is so enticing for little kids. It’s really really big (or really really small.) It’s challenging enough for adults to wrap their minds around it. Though 4-year-olds are capable of imagining unbelievable things, their world is very concrete. Hence my son’s need to anchor infinity to a series of digits. That’s okay. I corrected him appropriately but didn’t linger on it. Infinity is a crazy wonderful deep concept. So, every now and then, I bring it up. It would be amazing if this conversation had gone in crazy wonderful deep directions, but I am speaking to a 4-year-old. So I used breakfast as an escape hatch and kept it brief!  I continue to trust that his mind mulls things over in the spaces between our conversations. If you’d like an entree into talking about big numbers with your young child, I recommend the book How Many Jellybeans by Andrea Menoti and illustrated by Yancy Labat.)

6943832969_2bbe304e0b_b

Featured image Photo credit: azarius via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Jellybeans Photo credit: oatsy40 via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

One thought on “A short conversation about infinity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s