Tiny Toddlers and Colossal Cognition


Why is it that certain words, coming out of a three year-old’s mouth, can both amuse, and astound parents? We say thousands of words a day to our children. We speak to them like miniature, intelligent human beings. And yet, when they parrot certain phrases, or repeat multi-syllable words, our mouths drop. In shock, in awe, and in a teensy bit of parental pride.

Eh, who am I kidding, we beam. There is no such thing as a small amount of parental pride; a “humble parent” is a complete oxymoron.

I, myself, am constantly amazed by my tiny human’s cognitive thinking skills, use of sentence structure, and knack the English language. Tiny Tot never ceases to impress me. And, because of my Mom status, I tell him how exceptionally adorable I believe he is to me.

“Son son, that was a great sentence!,” or, “Do you know how smart you are?” are my two fallbacks.

Tiny Tot isn’t humble himself. He hears these phrases at least ten times a day, and chooses to respond by saying, “Yes, I know,” in all his incredibly cute glory.

Something about the way he correctly places adjectives–Mommy, I’m coming, too!–floors me. And his choice of villainous catch-phrases–Ah! The Tyrannosaurus Rex is going to die! Bam! Oh, no. He died–paired with appropriate inflection, mystifies me.

It also makes me pause to wonder how he came to imagine the placement of these words. Did he learn the nuances of the English language from me, from Dora, or from his teacher? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love taking credit for his mental capabilities. But, I am a working mom. This makes me fully aware that his intelligence has not solely come from me.

How sad. Or, in the words of Larry the Cucumber, “No es triste?”

However, I take credit for certain sources of knowledge, like all things dinosaur. What can I say? I love huge, prehistoric words coming out of my son’s tiny mouth. We own hundreds of toy dinosaurs, and we play with them, … a lot. They are a powerful sorting tool–if you own hundreds of them–like we do–and their names are printed somewhere along the belly of each dino toy.

Not only is my tiny human learning the names of the dinosaurs, and what classifies them, I am learning all of their names, too. I mean, someone has to teach these five, and six-syllable words to a mimicking small person. Or else the cuteness wouldn’t happen. It is so flipping adorable when the words Tyrannosaurus Rex, Brachiosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Ankylosaurus, Velociraptor, Parasauralophus, and Spinosaurus come out of his mouth.

Critical thinking skills also completely blow my mind. My favorite memory, one that I share often, is when my son was putting together a puzzle, primarily without my help. Ever put together a puzzle with a perfectionist? My son does, on a regular basis. There are a few moments when I truly feel sorry for him because of his mommy’s need to control the situation. I do remember to let him do his thing though, and stood back on this particular occasion. After he put the last piece into place, I gave him a huge hug, claiming, “You did it! That looks wonderful! Who made you so smart?”

He thought about it. I mean, he thought about my question, before answering. When he determined who made him smart, he said, “My mommy did.”

There are moments in life when we teach our children about life, and moments when our children teach us about the importance of life. When they look up at us, with their beautiful, glowing eyes, and speak the depths of their precocious little minds, we as parents glow.

Sometimes big words can make a parent feel a hundred feet tall.

No comments posted on October 30, 2012 in Parenting, Winging It, Mom Style

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