A few days ago, I was shaving in front of the bathroom mirror while my two boys were in the background, mucking about. They like to muck about in the bathroom whenever my wife or I are in there, turning what used to be our only private refuge into a public arena.
Anyhow, this is the conversation I overheard:
My 6 year-old boy, L: Who’s number 7?
My 4 year-old boy, C: Mr Snow.
L: What about number 31?
C: Mr Tall.
L: Okay, if you think you’re so smart, who’s number 10?
C: Mr Silly.
L: No, YOU’RE Mr Silly! Haha!
C: NO YOU ARE SILLY!
C then proceeded to tackle his older brother and both of them fell to the ground, wrestling.
Normally in this situation, I would put on my Mr Angry voice, scold them to get the hell out of my bathroom (without the words “the hell” if my wife is within earshot) or urge them to go fight where I can’t hear them.
On this occasion, however, I was more than intrigued. Was C making up answers to all those questions from L, or did he really know all the Mr Men characters by their numbers? I looked at L and saw that he was still holding a Mr Men book. On the back of it was all the Mr Men characters, each with a number followed by his name. And this was what L was testing C with in the conversation that I just overheard.
Me: Hey, C, get off your brother’s head and come over here for a minute. I want to ask you something.
C: But, daddy, I’m giving him a walloping!
Me: Who is number 35?
C: Mr Skinny.
Me: What number is Mr Mean?
Me: C, you are a genius!
C: I don’t know what number is jinnis.
I tested C a few more times and each time the right answer came back with nonchalant ease. I was amazed, especially since I only bought him the book a few days ago and we only read it for around 5 minutes each time before bed.
Then again, I guess I should not have been surprised. You see, every now and then, C exhibits rather amazing memory and recall tricks.
For instance, C can name the album and the track number, just by hearing the first few seconds of a song contained in any of the 10 or so CDs that he has. He can do this even when the song is badly hummed by a musically-challenged person like me.
Indeed, with the 1 to 100 numbers chart that he has on his bedroom wall, C has assigned a song that he knows to each number on the chart. So, let’s say you go in his room and press 41 on his numbers chart, C will automatically click into Gangnam Style mode and start singing the song while wriggling his bottom. Click on number 23 and he will belt out Troublemaker by Olly Nurs & Flo Rida, and so on. And it’s not random, because you can go in several weeks later, press 23 and it will still be Troublemaker. It’s like a having your own personal jukebox except you don’t need any coins and you get a priceless live performance each time from an exhibitionist 4 year-old.
C has also developed his own finger-numbering system, so that he can display numbers from 1 to 100, using his fingers in a complex assortment of ways. I’ve asked him many times to show me the system and, each time, the methodology and the logic are consistent, and certainly not just randomly devised in the heat of the moment.
There are many other examples. But the latest Mr Men incident really got me thinking about how to tackle Vegas with the help of C’s prowess. Then I was jolted out of my fantasy when I heard another fight developing between L and C, this time over biscuits.
Me: C, you have to share the biscuits with your brother!
C: But I gave him one.
L: But daddy, C’s got three and I only got one.
Me: C, when there are four biscuits, how many should you give L and how many should you give yourself, so that you guys don’t fight.
Me: One? One what?
C: One for L.
Me: And how many for you?
Oh well, maybe I’m getting way ahead of myself with this whole Rain Man fantasy with C. Maybe C isn’t that good with numbers after all. But, then again… maybe he’s even smarter than I thought!
Keep on pounding.