I was lying in the dark the other night, wondering if Hobbes had finally gone to sleep, when I felt a little hand groping for my face.
Then it patted my cheek. “You’re very clever,” he said.
“Thank you,” I said.
Last week was long, long, loooooooong in the way that temporal anomalies are long, or dental appointments where you haven’t flossed in a while are long, or self-prepared taxes on the night of April 13th because you forgot to do it earlier are long. Each day passed with incredible speed, but somehow each work week contained 10 or 11 days.
It’s the third week in a line of weeks that have had that elastic feel. Not that the days that have bookended the month have been notable for their ease of use, say, but we’ve been diving into an especially noxious period just recently. The tipping point1 came partway through the last week, when a coworker and my new boss both offered me some very good advice. Coincidentally enough, someone reminded me of the definition of insanity — and here I am, on the other side of it, feeling remarkably refreshed for someone who’s just found half a dead moth in her hair.
Hobbes crossed the halfway point a couple of months ago. He is closer to three than he is to two, which he informs me means that he is a “big boy,” though he says it without any obvious signs of comprehension. In the purely physical sense, he isn’t — at Fry’s yesterday, he spent an exciting half-hour running up and down an elevated deck display with a boy that I later learned was only 21 months old. He was taller than Hobbes was by a good inch.2
“He’s so articulate,” the little boy’s grandmother marveled. Hobbes jabbered something about his toy car, and then went pinging off the deck’s rails, a free electron without portfolio.
“It’s because he’s small,” I told her. “You’re thinking he’s advanced for his age, but his age is older than he looks. It’s not that he’s smart. It’s that he’s in miniature.”
Which I suppose sounds a bit like I’m calling him an idiot, but he isn’t, really. Just average.
“You keep saying that,” the Guy said, “but he’s not really that average. I think he’s pretty smart.”
“He seems pretty normal to me,” I said. “I mean, for a boy.” Realizing that sounded a bit more disparaging than I meant it to be, I added, “He seems about the same as his classmates. Maybe a little shorter.” I might be a bit obsessed about height.
“But you have to remember where we are,” the Guy said. “And his teachers say he talks a lot. If he’s average here, he’s above average everywhere else.”
“Mm,” I said, not exactly agreeing, but not really disagreeing either.
I have a pathological fear of being too proud of Hobbes’s achievements. Weighed against the scope of greatness prodigies subscribe to, it seems unfair and vaguely ridiculous to over-enthuse about normal development milestones. And in the annals of his personal history, it might embarrass him to discover that his mother was so soft-minded as to gibber with excitement for a solid ten minutes, just because he announced, “No shoes in da house,” one day as he climbed up the stairs from the garage, and painstakingly removed his little velcro-fastened sneakers.
Oh, and the fact that he has figured out how to take pictures of himself. With my iPhone.
Which is passcode-locked.
That’s totally normal for a 2-year old, right?
1. I use the phrase advisedly. These days, I feel more like Sisyphus’s boulder than I do Sisyphus. I’ve never felt much sympathy for the Greek heroes and villains, mostly because even the good guys were jackasses, but I’ll admit I’ve always wondered about Sisyphus’s boulder. Do you suppose it’s more frustrating to be the person who’s pushing the boulder up the hill, or being the boulder who’s never left alone? I can imagine the inner monologue getting pretty damn tedious. “Almost there, almost there, al– most— FUCK.” [Back]
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- Childrens’ Day and other things
- Stories on an afternoon drive
- Bring your kids to work day
- Tech support.
- A little daring
- I don’t know about you….
- A little bit of validation
- In which good intentions mean diddly-squat
- Things I need to remember not to forget
- Sometimes they will surprise you
- England and other errata