having a kid changes your life instantly. every day you’re having these profound realizations about your child or yourself or humanity or whatever. i’d say its the best and cheapest therapy out there. and one of the craziest things about watching a kid develop from a single cell to a little person is getting an up-close view at how that little brain develops.
my oldest son is almost 2 1/2 now and he has this odd habit. i dont know if its just my kid. i mean i assume this must actually be the way all brains worked and that its not just my son. out of blue sky he will do something that is miles ahead of where he should be developmentally. just once. on purpose. then he wont do it again for months, which in baby time is like a lifetime. and then he’ll develop the skill on a slow upward path as you would assume any skill would be learned. like, here’s an example. when my son was 10 or 11 months old, he hadn’t said a word…not even the accidental babble that sounded like mama or dada. kid just wasnt a big babbler. which is what made it so obvious when he opened his mouth and said ‘buff’ clear as day right as i was moving his favorite stuffed animal, buffalo, toward him. um, what?! i was psyched. here comes the rush of words, the flood of language, that supposedly comes gushing like a mega-tsunami as soon as they get started. but no. not another word for another three months. seriously. wtf? and then none of those words were buffalo. just your basic mama dada stuff. so really now, what was that ‘buff’ all about?
another crazier example? ok this time my son was probably a little over a year. i spent every day of his life by his side so i feel pretty damn confident when i say he didn’t really know shapes. not the names of the them and definitely definitely if you had two circles and a square, he couldn’t match the circles together. he just wasn’t there yet. well one day my husband and i are lounging on the couch and my son totters out carrying a foam piece with the number nine on it. fine. he’s always bringing us random shit. well, then he totters back into his room and comes back out with the nine from his floor mat. i look at my husband like well thats weird. but they were both green and foam so it could have been either of those things. or more likely, a coincidence altogether. i go back to what im doing (let’s ignore that in this story i sound like a totally inattentive parent) only to watch this kid totter back out with a different puzzle piece, this one also having a nine on it but smaller, less obvious, not green, not foam. um what?! this freaked us both out. one of the puzzle pieces came from a set with 20 pieces, the floor mat had like 30, and same with the foam letters and numbers so the odds that he just picked these out without making a connection are kinda astronomical. but i swear to you, he had never shown any signs of being able to do something like this even on the easiest scale and wouldn’t again for another couple months.
this kinda stuff happens often with my son. and it makes me think a lot about brains. i always assumed those jump-out-of-the-bathtub apple-on-the-head eureka moments were a load of shit. i mean, come on, really? but now, i dont know. i mean how do we learn? when we’re trying to pick up a skill whether its a mental one like algebra or a physical one like playing an instrument, it sure seems like a long, drawn-out, climbing-a-mountain kinda process. and that makes sense. every time we practice, the pathways in our brain are getting strengthened and then we can maybe just do a little more next time until over time the whole neat trick is second nature. so what can explain these sudden leap-frog epiphanies? i mean are all these things i see in my son really coincidence? i’m with this kid 24-7. i probably already have an inflated sense of how crazy smart he is. am i just not giving him enough credit? or is something really suddenly clicking, the right neural path accidentally lining up, only for him to lose it and spend months trying to find it again?
seriously, what is going on in these brains of ours?!