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30 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET CHAPTER ONE we see as signs of childhood immaturity are actually highly sophisti- cated tools for learning and growth. Play is a highly complex tool for developing a worldview, imaginary friends offer a sophisticated alterna- tive reality that allows children to test the laws of behavior, and chil- dren’s uninhibited, “unfocused” attention is precisely what allows them to learn so quickly and rapidly. We don’t understand that the ways children interact with the world have developmental purposes of their own, necessary and complete as they are. Many people cringe at the thought of spending an afternoon with a toddler (though I suspect the “cringers” would be a much smaller per- centage of those reading this book than a typical sampling of the adult population). Why do we shudder at the thought of spending a day with two-year-olds? After all, they are creative, passionate, curious, loving, and energetic. The reasons we cringe are partly due to the reputation of the “terrible twos,” a phrase coined in the 1920s by a scientist named Arnold Gesell. Gesell was the first to study this period of human devel- opment in an attempt to understand the stubbornness for which tod- dlers have become known (Mintz 2004, 219). Some in education have tried to reclaim the age, referring to children as experiencing the “ter- rific twos,” while others have found ways to label subsequent phases of development in similarly disparaging ways. Labels such as the “trying threes” and “ferocious fours” have grown more commonplace, even in early childhood education circles. I have frequently overheard conver- sations between parents along the lines of, “You think the twos are hard? Just wait for the threes!” Even though many of our understand- ings about childhood have changed, and we know that what many adults perceive as a toddler’s inflexibility is actually evidence of devel- oping autonomy and empathy, popular notions of toddlers as inflexi- ble, self-centered monsters pervade our social consciousness (Gopnik, Meltzoff, and Kuhl 2001, 38–39). Children are not imperfect humans, but they are imperfect adults. As long as we evaluate children by how well they do adult tasks, the observation often attributed to Albert Einstein rings true: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL