As my almost three and a half year old continues to develop, I get the parental joy of seeing him grow and learn and wow us with all of his new talents. While some of these are more impressive than others, (putting clothes on all by himself generally trumps turning macaroni and cheese into tusks), it’s his advanced verbal skills that have often left me, well, speechless.
Now, for those of you who haven’t been inundated with my own incessant rambling on a lengthy road-trip, I’ll be clear that I am an avid talker through-and-through. A high school teacher once told my parents that she wasn’t sure what to do with me next, since she’d moved me to every spot in the room and I continued to chit-chat endlessly with whomever might be at my elbow. Her last resort was going to be putting me in the hallway, (or sending me to detention, which seemed to cure it a bit). So let’s say the loquacious gene was easily passed on to my offspring.
For example, this is a 5 minute rant of comments/questions emitted from his tiny, cherry pucker while riding in a taxi from the Chicago airport. (This is not a joke. He literally didn’t even wait long enough for full answers before another random brain pellet spewed out.)
I see an airplane!
Airplanes don’t have wheels.
Where is the choochoo train?
What’s that beeping sound?
Ow, my feet hurt.
Mom, I’m hungry.
There’s another plane!
Why is it not going?
There’s a moon like a pizza!
With jelly on it.
With chocolate on it.
Lasterday I was fighting with Uncle Brad in my room.
I fight him first but he fight me in my room.
He pushed me down.
What’s that pile of rocks?
Mom, where’s another choochoo?
Why the moon’s up?
I don’t want it to be nighttime.
You catch all that?
I love that he’s inquisitive, imaginative, thoughtful and perceptive. I’m humbled by the simplicity of his pointed observations and exhausted by the endlessness of his curiosity.
But mostly, I’m very, very impressed with how crazy smart I am in response to all of his mind-blowing, life-expanding, brain-building questions.
Yes, you heard me. I’m thinking I might be an undiscovered genius. I mean, maybe I chose marketing as my career path, but the world of science? The hallowed hallways of logic? The psychic truths of our wisest scholars? Yep. Inscribe my name on that scroll, because there’s some freaking huge intellectual acumen coming out of this mouth on a daily basis. Lemme school you on some of these goods.
It all started at the beginning of Summer when on pretty, sun-drenched weekends, Sam and I would head out on long walks together. The world spun by in new colors and sounds, presumably activating the gears in his little brain to start spinning in overtime. Before long, I wasn’t just trying to catch my breath because of the exercise, (ba-dum-ching!) but rather because I was being interviewed by the worlds smallest HR recruiter about everything he saw.
Some of these answers were of the $50 Who Wants To Be A Millionaire variety. I could confidently hit my buzzer, with no poll-the-audience or phone-a-friend’s necessary. I was just getting warmed up for the big ones.
“That’s a blue jay.”
“Yes, you can eat a pear later.”
They always started out deceptively easy. And, in the beginning, I thought I’d certainly get away with the “right answer” without being required to support my argument with a veritable index of notes.
“Mommy, what’s that?
“That is a fire hydrant.”
“What does it do?”
“It pumps out water.”
“When firemen need to help putting out fires, they hook hoses up to the fire hydrant so they can spray water on the houses and keep people and animals safe.”
Boom. #NailedIt. I had effectively answered his question with information he would understand, and that would relate back to things he was learning in books and at school.
“Where does the water come from? How does it come out of the hydrant?” (duuude – we’re into compound questions now?)
“Uh, well, there are pipes underground filled with water that the fire hydrant is attached to, and when they turn the hydrant on, it sucks water out of the pipes and sprays it out of the hose.”
“But how does water get into the pipes?”
“Hmm. Remember that big white thing we passed on the way to soccer the other day? The one with the round top and skinny legs? That’s a water tower, and it stores water for the whole city, and it shoots water into the pipes that can then be used for the fire hydrants.”
By this time I’m starting to schvitz. Just a little bit. It’s the final round of the spelling bee and I just aced that Aardwolf! What’s up civil engineers! I just laid that down like a PRO. What are you gonna throw at me next little man? I’m all warmed up now.
“Mommy, look! The leaves are changing color!”
“I know! Aren’t they pretty?”
“Why is that happening?”
“Well, it’s changing seasons, from Summer to Fall, and the leaves go from green to different shades of orange and red and yellow before they fall off the trees.”
“But how? How do they change from green to other colors? What makes them do that?”
Flexing muscles. Cracking knuckles. Bouncing on the balls of my toes a few times.
“First, the chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor. At the same time other chemical changes may occur, which form additional colors through the development of red anthocyanin pigments.”
High fives! I totally didn’t just Google that answer! (Please nobody go asking my freshman year science teacher if I pulled out that kind of answer for him on my final verbal test—which, essentially, was the exact same question—and I stared at him blankly until a string of drool descended from the corner of my mouth). Now I’m spouting scientific facts like poetry and grooming my little prodigy for a future nobel prize in some invention that will save endangered species and cure world hunger and make it so that the caramel on my caramel apples doesn’t always slide off and pool sadly around the bottom.
Bring it on. What’s next? Who cares that we’re well past warmed up and now my heart-rate is about maxed out and my throat is starting to hurt from the simultaneous gasping/talking. Not to mention that my brain is starting to overheat due to it’s internal mechanisms whirring at top speed to answer these never-ending, rapid-fire, seriously-who-cares-about-this-shit questions.
“Mommy, why is the moon out if it’s still daytime?”
Oh dear, sweet Lord. Is Sheldon Cooper nearby?
“That’s a good question, Buddy. Um, the moon is still out because there’s still, uh, a shadow from the, hmm. Well, see, the earth is turning, and, urgh. (short circuit! short circuit!) The sun and moon are buddies! So the moon stays out in the sky some mornings so that it can say a quick, Hello!, to the Sun before going to sleep again!” Yep. That’s it.
He’s only 3 after all. Even though I absolutely know the real answer to this question, I want to feed my son’s young, growing imagination with fun stories in addition to science. I mean, we can’t be braniacs ALL the time!
“Mommy, how is the baby going to get out of your tummy?”
“I have absolutely no idea. Maybe we should ask the doctor. Now, shhhh, baby. Let’s play the quiet game the rest of the way home.”
Ok. Ok. So maybe I’m not the big-brained genius I claimed to be on all the things that ever were, but I can hold my own…in the world of 3 year olds…who don’t know any better.
It can definitely be a bit daunting at times, being expected to come up with answers to all of life’s questions in the hopes to satiate my toddlers hungry and growing brain. I’d love to be able to instantly spout out accurate, child-friendly responses to his every wonder in order to ensure that he continues to love the act of learning. But, in reality, I’ll continue to lean heavily on my own dusty memory, a little imagination and a lot of pushing things off on, “You should ask Daddy that question.”
Oh, and it’s time for trusty ol’ babysitter, iPad, to step up his game and teach Sam about Wikipedia. Am I right??