When I was a child, somewhere between four and six, I participated in a study at the local university. I was asked to bring along a friend of every age for as much as I could. That is to say, bring along a friend who was three, one who was four, one who was five, six, seven, etc.
The study asked questions about what was important to me. I assumed the other participants were asked the same questions I was, but that's an assumption made after the fact and later in life.
I remember sitting there with the paper in front of me explaining to the researcher (or rather, more likely the researcher's assistant) about how I wasn't able to find a friend who was 8 years old, but I had managed 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10, but they would be in later.
Only much later did I begin to wonder if the researcher understood how much more important my chatter was than her questions. To this day, I wonder if she understood that gaining my mother's approval, by finding these friends and fulfilling the request she made to me, was important to me, not the abstract "did you take my toys?"
I was reminded of what is important to an eight year old this afternoon, when Jenn's daughter handed me a wedding program. She had to nearly butt the other girl handing out programs out of the way to get to me first, insisting that I take the program, take it, take it, taaaaaaaaake it.
I smiled, took the program when I realized what was happening and immediately began looking for a bathroom.
At eight, your mother's approval may be one of the most important things in your life, but after twenty-nine, it's the bathroom.