Monday, February 27, 2006

"O" Is For Obsessed

Alex seems to be taking in information at a rapid pace these days, and I find myself thinking, "WAIT - how in the world do you know THAT?" And please know that this is not one of those "oh, my child is so smart" write-ups, because I have no idea if Alex is smart or not, but if I had to wager a guess right now, I'd probably say, um, huh? I think he'll be capable, and I think he'll have some common sense, but smart? I just can't tell. He's TWO, you know?

I recognize that my friend NK's older daughter is smart because she can pretty much factor algebraic equations at age 3 1/2, and I knew that Merritt's little boy was smart when he quoted Astounding Facts About Dinosaurs when he was only 4, but Alex, not so much. It seems to me that what Alex is doing right now is taking the fast track around the Catch-Up Curve. I'm pretty low-key about Alex's academic future, really, because I never want to be one of those parents with unrealistic expectations...I figure it's better to expect average, and then anything above and beyond is a happy surprise.

Mother Of The Year, ladies and gentlemen! Spurring my child on to greatness!

So anyway, Alex is currently obsessed with five things. No, six: 1) trains 2) Blue's Clues 3) Cheetos 4) planets 5) letters and 6) numbers.

I've talked about the train thing a little - nothing to tell, really, because as best I can figure it's just watching a little car go around a track or pushing a little car around a track and I'm bored with it in, like, six seconds and looking around his room for a book or magazine or something. Alex and his daddy can watch / play for hours, however. I don't get it.

As far as Blue's Clues goes, he seems to prefer the ones with Joe, not Steve, and that's fine with us, because Steve, especially in his later episodes, gives off a distinctive air of OH SWEET MERCY I HATE MY LIFE SOMEBODY PLEASE OH PLEASE GET ME OUT OF THIS ANIMATED NIGHTMARE. So probably better for Steve that he moved on to bigger pastures and a brighter future.

Cheetos - well, I don't think I even have to explain that one, especially considering the sheer volume of Cheetos I ate when pregnant. They're in the child's DNA - he can't escape his Cheetos-eating destiny.

The planets thing seems pretty routine. Once or twice a day he insists that we put this puzzle together:

And then he screams - SCREAMS, I tell you - the names of all the planets while he points at them and jumps up and down. This exercise usually results in my having to put the dogs outside because they get so disturbed by the high volume of the toddler voice. Sometimes I want to go outside, too, but I can't really do that without the authorities getting involved - something about "abandonment" or "negligence" or some such nonsense. So I just cover my ears.

Which brings us to numbers and letters, and the part where he's scaring me a little.

As far as letters go, we're just now pioneering that frontier. Last week he got fascinated with this letter board that Janie gave has pictures of objects on one side, and the first letter of the object on the other. And all the pieces spin, as an added bonus. He's caught on pretty quickly, but now EVERY TIME he sees a word, we have to go through the whole thing: "That's an A, Mama! That's a P!" and by the time we get to the "E" in "apple" and I've encouraged appropriately after each letter discovery, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt why I am not an elementary school teacher. It IS a very sweet time, though, to see how excited he gets over an "H" or an "R" - especially since Clueless Wonder Mama here didn't know that he'd be able to do that before he turned 7. As a result, my den usually has some assortment of these on the floor:

And trust me when I tell you that we cover every. single. letter. Every. single. day.

Then the numbers. A few weeks ago he started counting everything: lemons, pens, shirts, letters on shirts, candy, sippy cups, and I did encourage the counting by pulling out all the books that have to do with numbers so that he could count up a storm. He's been saying his numbers up to 20 for about a year, I guess, and really, I thought that was all he would do until, I don't know, kindergarten? Honestly, I never knew or expected that children could count objects until they were in some form of math class (did I mention that I'm up for Mother of the Year?). Best I can figure, his Mother's Day Out teachers have taught him some counting tricks. So hoorah for them. Money well spent.

For the last couple of weeks he's been recognizing numbers when they're in print - "that's a 2, Mama," or "hey, that's a 5," and I thought that was a good developmental milestone. But Saturday, he ventured into unexpected territory. We were in the car, listening to a CD of Veggie Tales songs, and he said, "Hey, Mama, I wanna hear 6."

I sort of shook my head a second - "What, baby? You want to hear what?"

"I want to hear 6."

OKAY. Why did none of you "friend" people warn me about this day, this day when he would suddenly associate the number on the CD player display with an actual song? I didn't know he could do such a thing, and I thought I had at least three more years of peace in this area (is it painfully obvious that I have no child development background whatsoever? Merritt, would you like to chime in about this?).

I guess I've been running the occasional scam, because while A. has been requesting specific songs for a year and a half, if I couldn't bear to hear "God Is Bigger Than The Boogie Man" one more time, I could say, "Oh, it's not on this CD. How about [fill in blank with name of something that won't make me drive my car off the side of Double Oak Mountain]?"

But the jig, it is up. He gets the CD numbering system. Now he'll ask for 8, then 15, then 4, then 7, and the requests, they will never stop. And I can't get around them anymore because he can "read" the numbers - he can see them on the little LCD screen with his very own eyes, and I can't say, "there's not a 2," because he understands how numbers work.

In conclusion, I would like to say that learning, it is overrated, and I will be emphasizing sports and social skills from this day forward.

And y'all know I'm kidding,!?!


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