This is not a telephone, so how does my son know that this was once a telephone?

My wife sent me this photo of my son from a recent visit to a children’s museum.

Yes, my family gets to go to children’s museums during the week while I slave away in the mines.

When I saw the image, I couldn’t help but wonder how Charlie understood how to use this device. It’s so unlike any telephone that he has ever seen in his life. The rotary dial, the cord, the immobile base, and even the separate, oversized, oddly shaped handset are all foreign to him.

Yet there he is, holding it to his ear, pretending to make a phone call.


Then again, I’ve also seen my son pretend to make phone calls using bananas and shoes, so perhaps imagination has a lot to do with it.

Yet somehow bananas and shoes more closely resemble the phones that Charlie has seen than this thing. Think about it:

  • Bananas and shoes are the same shape as our cordless phone.
  • Bananas and shoes are portable, like every phone Charlie has ever seen.
  • Bananas and shoes have no cords dangling from them.
  • Bananas and shows have no finger wheels affixed to them.
  • Bananas and shoes have no numbers on their surfaces, which our iPhones don’t have, either. To Charlie, most of the phones that he’s ever seen have clear, black surfaces. He’s probably never even seen an the number pad on any iPhone. 

I have to assume one of two things:

  1. Somehow the ancient, rotary phone has insinuated itself into human genetic code.
  2. My son is a genius.