He Is Not a Lion

There comes a time when you realize your children are sharper than you. I figured it wouldn't come at two and half, but the other day, my toddler directed me to the book I thought we'd misplaced, remembering that it had fallen off the table after I unceremoniously finished reading it and set it precariously at the edge, while I had completely forgotten about it during bath and bed time escapades. Yesterday, before we set off for our weekly excursion to the library and I packed up all the books to return, L studied my set, opined that I was missing "Big Rig" - and then proceeded to pick the missing book from the floor and placed it with its compatriots in my bag. His memory is now sharper than mine (although to be fair, he gets about three times more sleep than I do).

Both my sons seem different every week and it's amazing how exponentially kids develop. My elder son is constantly planning fantastical as well as conceivable adventures. He will have lunch on the moon and get there by a literary staircase, but he also has plans to get to Lego Land. How will get to Lego Land? His dad will drive him down to San Diego. He knows the latter plan is not only achievable but that success is palpable and in this war of attrition, he will conquer, soon running around formidable Lego formations (albeit I wonder whether they are rather hollow structures with merely a Lego surface) and so he persists. Oh, the tenacity of toddlers!

The kids are so different from each other. One I'm told looks exactly like my husband and while he looks a lot like my husband, he has features from my father and I see my father a lot in him. It irritates me to no end when I'm told he is a little clone of my husband. Likewise, when people say my younger son is a clone of my dad (who in truth does look a lot like my dad), my temper bubbles to a boil, for I see a lot of my husband in my younger son also. I can't explain why this irritates me, but it does.

Apart from their shared eye shape and covetable eyelashes, along with their wacky cackle, the two boys are pretty different in physique and in temperament. Our elder son, we believe, is going to be a dramatist or a politician, or both. He commands the attention of a crowd and can charm the hardness off a rock. He has an insatiable imagination, already concocting stories and forming characters with his toys. He is also an ardent negotiator. M, on the other hand, in part possibly due to the constrain of contingency of having L's engulfing personality as his elder brother, is more introspective and contained. He is only nine months, but he has displayed a voracious appetite for music and approaches the instruments around the house with great interest. He doesn't thump, but strums a guitar and he does a better job than I do (admittedly, this is a talent that I lack). We are a little stupefied at his musical explorations, for they are musical. M is also very inquisitive and will study how things work for what appears an interminable time (but then I am more of L's temperament). We joke that L takes after me and M takes after hubby. Of course, as parents, we have grand views of our children. No parent looks at their infant babbling away and thinks, yeah, he'll be in and out of prison and maybe if he's lucky, a janitor. Nor should we - but then not all people are of this opinion. Eastern European mothers, for instance, are known for an earnest effort at attempting to dissuade any goals of their children in order to stampede over their dreams before the world does it for them (while a chip off this block, I am of a different opinion).

The kids had their first bath time together the other day. In order to coax L to have a bath with his younger brother, we bought a bunch of new bath toys, which we said would make their bath time debut when the boys bathed together. L immediately asked that this be an established routine and even agreed to share the toys with his brother. Once in the bath, however, L took as many toys as he could hold in both his arms. It was quite a feat with only one wily walrus having escaped his claws. We made it clear that he was to give M at least one toy. L quickly agreed and offered up the dejected walrus that was floating away from all plastic company. M meanwhile was chomping down on a boat, which was an old toy and therefore taken to be passé by L, perfectly copacetic.

Apart from sharpening his negotiation skills, L has also promenaded into prevarication. The first time L lied, he was probably around ten months and I was stupefied. While I abhor mendacity, I was conflicted, for I was also quite pleased that he had developed the capacity to understand that he could manipulate his reality by manipulating the retelling of events, including to serve his interests. Did you throw the food on the floor? No, it was M! Then M looks at us aghast at this false accusation before erupting in a shriek.

L's first ability to manipulate his reality was to realize he could say no. His second development was to realize that truth could be in masquerade. Several times we've had to ask him, "are you lying?" to which he's responded, crying, for he also viscerally seems to know that it is wrong to lie (which we reinforce), "I am not a lion!" - where did lions get such a bad reputation?


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