27 April 2010

The Game is Afoot

In theory, one of the great things about being a parent is that you get to be in control, you get to be in charge. For the first time in your life, maybe, you are the boss. And your kid has to do exactly what you say. You have the upper hand and you are the smartest person in the room.

Of course, life rarely turns out as you'd expect. Sometimes, the real experience is far removed from the advertised one.

Meet my son, Junior Sherlock.

Though he hasn't even been a presence in the world for two years yet, he appears to possess the powerful observational skills of that Victorian-era super-sleuth, Sherlock Holmes.

Seriously, you cannot put anything past him. (Trust me, we've tried.) He appears to be furiously smart and preternaturally intuitive. (Man, parent goggles much? Maybe. But that doesn't necessarily mean I'm wrong.) As new homeowners, our house is in a constant state of flux, evolving and developing over time from just some house into our first home. And with every change in decor and style, there is a corresponding reaction from our son. The kid, he notices everything. Nothing escapes his attention. He will point absolutely anything and everything out to us.

These powers of deduction really are impressive to behold. As a long-time fan of that certain resident of 221B Baker Street, I must admit it is pretty thrilling to watch these skills develop. (And fanboy though I may be, I am hardly a staunch traditionalist. I loved the new Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey, Jr. version. Not to mention I am totally in the tank for the awesome '80s origin story, Young Sherlock Holmes. But I digress.)

Someone (smarter than I) said something recently about the capacity of a baby's brain and how it's just wide open and ready to receive, anything and everything. Unlike a full-grown human, that brain is not overly cluttered by inane trivia, such as the full names of obscure-ish character actors, lyrics to entire Beastie Boys albums, quotes from The Simpsons, baseball stats (not me, but some people I imagine), Pee Wee football rules. You get the idea. If I was smarter, this would've occurred to me. I mean, it makes perfect sense. Just by watching him.

He studies everything so intently. Things, places, people. Filing away all the details.

Have you read Goodnight Moon? It's a childhood staple. But reading it with our son is a whole new experience. You see, there's this mouse on every page. Every illustration features this tiny little creature somewhere in the scene. And our son can pick it out. On every page. Regardless of where it is. He will wander over from across the room to point it out. And this thing is tiny. I have difficulty locating it most of the time. How can that be? Wait until he gets a Where's Waldo? book. It won't remotely be a challenge. Well, perhaps for me. But that's another story.

And it's not just around the house, but everywhere. Squirrel. Car. Moon. Things he's only seen once, he'll point them out. The kid can spot a pacifier from 100 yards and instantly make a request for it.

It's not just observations, but memory. The words to the Dora the Explorer theme song, the numbers that come after nine (ten, eleven, twelve--random), the exact location of the food samples at Trader Joe's.

I'm not joking. His powers of recall are just astounding. Not to mention, somewhat intimidating.

My wife and I always assumed our child (or children, potentially) would be smarter than us. And we're far from knuckle-draggers ourselves. But still, they say you should be careful what you wish for. In this case, they may be right.

But he's only a toddler, you're probably saying. How smart can he really be? Honestly, I'm pretty sure he's going to be outsmarting and outmaneuvering my wife and I any time now.

And if he employs these incredible faculties in a devious manner? We are truly done for.

(And he can kiss good-bye ever having a younger sibling.)

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