Why I’m A Genius: A Questionable Self Assessment

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?

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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.”

“It’s Saturday.”

“Yes, you can eat a pear later.”

“He’s golfing.”

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.”

“Why?”

“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.

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But then…

“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.”

“Oh, ok.”

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.

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“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?

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“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?”

Thud.

“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??

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Parenting Faux Pas: Mystery Goo & Other Questionable Activities

“My eye hurted!” says my almost-two-year-old in the bathtub.

“My arm hurted” says my almost-two-year-old after lifting his fork.

“My butt hurted!” says my almost-two-year-old on the changing table (that he’s way too big for btw, and lays on like a fat weiner dog smushing a chew toy).

I’m sure you’re thinking “Awww, poor little baby! What’s hurting him and how can I make it better?” Start gathering up your stones to throw, because our reaction to this constant stream of apparently painful, yet invisible, physical problems has become one of strained patience and unbridled sarcasm.

“Your eye doesn’t hurt. Your face isn’t even wet. There is no soap anywhere near your eyeball and, even if there were, the fat alligator tears you’re producing would have already washed it out by now.”

“I’m sorry to hear that your arm hurts. Perhaps you should stop poking it with your fork. There is plenty of food on the plate for you to practice spearing, leave your own flesh alone.”

The butt issue is a little different. I’ve seen/cringed/cooed/powdered and patted that little behind many times when he was suffering through painful forms of diaper rash. But this is not one of those times! He’s claiming that his baby ass hurts when it’s hanging out commando, footloose and fancy free in the breeze! He should feel golden, not grumpy…in my opinion.

At this point he doesn’t quite grasp the idea of “the boy that cried wolf”, so it’s difficult for my husband and I to convince him that, the more he whiiiiiiiines about things hurting him, the more eyerolls he’s going to get. He also doesn’t seem to understand that the more times in a row he says something, doesn’t automatically lend it more weight. Saying “my foot hurted” a dozen times in the span of a minute while I continually nod my head and reply “I’m sorry about that buddy. I know. I hear you. Yep. Ok. Uh huh.” does not seem to bother him in the least.

On the flip side, he’s also thrilled to repeat pleasantries randomly throughout the day. He’s constantly checking in on my husband and I by happily chirping, “hi mommy!” “hi daddy!” Rarely even stopping first to see what warm-bodied adult he’s even sitting next to. He’ll say “hi daddy!” to me a variety of times before he looks up from the mud pit he’s been poking with a stick to realize that I am not, in fact, his father. No biggie. “Hi mommy!” is soon to follow.

And yes – poking mud pits with a stick is one of his favorite games. And no – we don’t live on some backwoods farm where there is nothing for him to play with besides old corncobs and abandoned mailboxes. He’ll ignore soccer balls, sidewalk chalk, plastic trucks and mini-golf sets in a heartbeat if there is a pile of dirt within squatting distance.

Some assume this is an inherently “boy-ish” trait, similar to laughing when he farts or hanging out with his hand in his pants. But the weird part is, no matter how much he LOVES digging around in the dirt, he HATES having his hands dirty. He’ll run frantically towards me clenching and unclenching his little digits like crab pincers screaming for a napkin. Then once he’s been properly wiped down, head straight back for the stix. Go figure.

I’d like to pretend that we’re the kind of parents that get down and dirty playing with him in the backyard every night until darkness falls and everyone is sleepy, and smelling of summer, and ready to tumble into baths and bed. The truth is that we probably do that, like, once every….week? Fortnight? It’s not like we don’t want to play chase through the sprinklers with our kiddo, but after a long day at work, it’s more likely that he’ll get about 30 minutes of outside time before, insert dread-like music here, the Apple products come out.

The first time our son looked at me and said “iPad” was one of surprised baffledom. I’m pretty sure I asked him to repeat the word a few times to make sure I had heard him correctly. “Sam watches Elmo on iPad. Please.” At least he’s polite about the request (unless refused, then he turns into a shrieking poltergeist who can only be silenced with puppy and paci and night night).

Is it normal for almost-two-year-olds to refer to Apple products by name? How about the fact that he knows how to uncover it, turn it on, swipe to the proper app, open it, scroll through a variety of Sesame Street seasons until he chooses the one he’s after, and then press play?

A year or so ago I saw a hilarious video on YouTube of a pre-toddler girl trying to play with a magazine like an iPad. She kept punching the pages with her stubby finger and trying to swipe around the images to no avail. And the more the pages actually turned and tore instead of magically move around the crystal-clear screen, the more frustrated this little baby nugget got.

Our dude can seamlessly toggle between Elmo and Nemo and a drawing game where he creates collages of miniature bananas and helicopters. There’s also an alphabet game he’ll play with where we’ll hear his sweet little voice reciting letters aloud. Why, thank you iPad, for acting as teacher and playmate and babysitter while mom and dad drink beers and look on with avid curiosity.

I promise that we roll around on the floor playing airplane, or indulge in rousing games of hide-and-seek in his old-school teepee, or practice counting all of his animals who, when they tip over on the carpet, are immediately deemed “sleeping.” But dear, sweet iPad is like the nanny we can’t afford on many nights where we just can’t muster up the energy for high-level parenting.

It’s also quite nice that, since the day our child was born, he’s been able to self-soothe by playing with his hair. He’s had so much since the day he popped out that it’s been a constant, replacing the need for a well worn lovie and becoming his go-to whenever he’s tired or upset or confused. You’ll never see me crumpled on the floor in agony because we left his favorite singing dolphin at home and now he’ll NEVER go to sleep. Or worry that he’s dribbled, sucked and drooled one too many times on that scrap of cotton until it dissolved into a pile of germs and bacteria. Instead, we’ll just watch as he reaches up to twist the strands of brown hair between his stubby little fingertips, or just pat the tips with his palms, and instantly his eyes will go dreamy.

Recently, however, he’s decided that playing with his hair is also appropriate while eating. How he decided that hairplay and yogurt, or spaghetti sauce or peanut butter, were a good mix I’ll never know. But for a kid whose “eyes hurted” even looking at water in the bathtub, this makes for a, pardon the pun, sticky situation. Now he comes home from daycare with more than just notes like “Learned about sunshine and cardinals today!” on his report card. On the extra space provided we’ll see things like “Got syrup in his hair today after lunch” or, “Played with his hair after fingerpainting, this is why you might see orange and yellow streaks. No we didn’t try to dbag highlight your son’s hair.” **

Today I arrived home from work and, as is a usual routine, husband and son were spotted watering the lawn together in the backyard. (It’s a pretty adorable sight, I tell ya.) Well, following greetings and hugs and reports on the day, my husband asks me, “Did you put gel in his hair today?”

“Um, what? Why would I do that?”

“Well look at it! Feel it! It’s super crunchy.”

I take a closer look and realize that his hair has taken on more than just it’s usual windy, slept on wildness. It’s clumped together in haphazard spikes and really, really hard.

“Buddy, what’s in your hair?”

Chirping nonsense reply.

“What?”

Same chirping nonsense reply.

“He’s clearly trying to tell us something,” my husband says. And we stare at the boy as if he’s alien and communicating with us in some advanced space language.

“It smells kind of sweet” I say after a sniff that almost gauges out one of my eyes.

Braver than I, my husband then leans over and takes a chunk of mystery hair in his mouth.

“Well, it’s definitely not gel.”

This reminded me so much of that moment in the movie Baby Mama with Tina Fey and Amy Pohler, where the sister licks some unidentifiable brown substance off her kids face and asks “chocolate or poop?” Deeming afterwards, with a collective sigh of relief from the audience, “chocolate!” And Tina Fey asks, “What if it had been poop?!”

I’m not saying I plan on licking anything questionable off my kids face, but I have absolutely used my own spit to clean things off, and am grateful my husband is daredevil enough to taste-test the latest hair product from lunch. We later realized, after checking the weekly school menu, that they had ice-cream sandwiches as their end of day snack.

“Did you say you have ice cream in your hair?”

His tiny face lights up with happiness. The uneducated humans from this foreign planet have finally uncoded his language and understand.

What can I say – we’re muddling along as we go. Many things are a crap-shoot and I’m careful to steer clear of blanket statements about what I will and won’t do when raising my kid, because you never know what’s around the corner. But with sweet ol’ iPad hanging around, ready to teach him to read and write and arithmetic, how can we go wrong?

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*What? This isn’t how you eat a pear? 

**No. The daycare girls didn’t actually write that they weren’t trying to bleach my son’s tips. But the afternoon shift can’t be any older than 17, so I’m not sure I’d put it past them.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

 

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First off – a thank you to the lovely and talented Anna of annaleawest.com for the nomination. Your writing is ridiculously clever and bursting with hilarity. You are too good to me (and possibly biased) but I am grateful! Here’s the scoop…

Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog. Done and done.
  • List seven random things about yourself.
  • Nominate other blogs.
  • Notify the nominees.
  • Put the award logo on your blog.

My 7 idiosyncrasies:

  1. I like to think about home decór while running
  2. I have the uncanny ability to recount entire tv episodes or movies with enough intrigue and drama to move the listener to tears (it’s true! ask my bff about Armageddon).
  3. I’m not a fan of top sheets. Just a fitted sheet and two oversize comforters.
  4. I have a strange fascination with tornadoes and have fantasized about opening up an underground theme park where people could watch them in complete safety.
  5. My first concert was in 5th grade to see Bryan Adams and I still get a bit choked up when I hear Everything I Do I Do It For You (this relates back to my original confession).
  6. I can’t really handle caffeine. No coffee, decaf tea and soda only at the movie theater. Subsequently, mornings suck.
  7. I think Halloween is the very best day of the year and am serious when I tell friends that they are welcome to forget my birthday as long as they participate on All Hallows Eve.

Some wonderful blogs that I find fun, interesting  and well worth your time:

  1. kendieveryday
  2. myedit
  3. abeautifulmess
  4. suchaprettyface
  5. rants,raves,andrambles