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Let’s face it, small children are not very bright.


I mean, generally speaking.

If you pitted the stupidest person at your work against a two year old, the moron who can’t do the simplest thing right would still probably come out ahead of the toddler every time.

So people without kids are pretty amused when we parents are totally blown away by our children doing simple things that even a dog could do, like identifying a ball or their own mother on cue.

But the thing is, when you’re looking at a tiny person and thinking “I MADE THAT,” then the fact that something you made can point to their own nose is incredibly exciting.

Even if you didn’t personally make the child (adoption, grandchild etc), the fact that this person couldn’t even hold up their own head a year or two ago makes the slightest achievement feel really momentous.

But to the rest of the world, we look like twits because we get so excited about our children accomplishing the most basic of skills, especially when they do so at developmentally normal ages.

I acknowledge this fact with apologies to all of the people out there who don’t get why I find this so exciting…


I discovered it while going to pick up Perfect Husband at the train station last week.

Owl was chattering in the back seat with his usual repetitive observations, all of which he requires to be repeated back to him to prove that I understood the full scope of what he is trying to communicate:

“Big Liam’s birfday all done.”

“Yes, your friend’s birthday is finished.”

“Your birfday all done.”

“Yes, my birthday is all done.”

“Long time, my birfday.”

“Yes, your birthday is a long time from now, that’s very true.”

“You and me is two peoples.”

“That’s right, you and me together make two people.”

“Daddy get in the car… THREE peoples!”

THAT got my attention.

Owl can correctly identify groups of two or three, and has been able to count to fourteen or since he was a year and a half, but mentally adding an imaginary third person and then counting that person was decidedly new territory.

“That’s RIGHT, Owl, good job! That was hard work!”

When Perfect Husband got into the car, I told him about this and he was just as excited as I was.

“Hey, Owl, how many people are in the car?”

“You, and Mommy, and me… three peoples!”

“Good! And what if Beloved Dog was in the car?”

“You, and Mommy, and me, and Doggy… FOUR peoples!”

“WOW! And what if Inexplicably Loved Cat was here, too?”

“You, and Mommy, and me, and Doggy, and Kitty… FIVE PEOPLES.”

You have never seen two adults so excited about such a minor accomplishment… unless you are parents.

Or have seen parents.

Or have parents yourself.

So basically, you have seen it, but none of that stuff that those other people were excited about was NEARLY AS EXCITING as OWL DOING BASIC ADDITION.

We spent the rest of the car ride saying things like “What if I had an apple, and you had an apple. Then how many apples would we have?”

“Two apples!”

“And what if Daddy gave us ANOTHER apple? Then how many?”


Never mind that he is 30 months old and that this is probably right on track for his age.

In our minds, Owl was already getting his Master’s degree in mathematics and breezily answering the kinds of word problems that completely baffled me in first year calculus.

Future Mathematics Professor/More Mobile Version of Stephen Hawking

Future Mathematics Professor/more agile version of Stephen Hawking

Then I asked a question that brought it all crashing down.

“Owl, what if I ATE one of those apples? Then how many would we have?”


Huh. Subtraction not so much.

Oh well.

NB: The next day he did answer some basic subtraction questions correctly, but while his addition is around 90% correct, his subtraction is much shakier, closer to 75%. BUT STILL.