A Beautiful Mind

OK mom and dad, I guess you win…

If I had truly understood exactly how cool it was to watch your kids grow up and begin the process of learning, things may have been different. We just don’t get it until we are older.  If I understood then what I know now, there may have been a few less curfew restrictions, a few less calls after Dave Mathews Concerts, and all the other things that may have kept you all up at night.

Watching Nolin, I have (happily) realized that at 20 while I thought I was learning so much in my path to becoming an adult, It didn’t even compare.  Especially when you look at how much learning goes on in the first few years of life.  Nolin is a sponge and it truly blows my mind to be a spectator in his quest to understand the world around him.

Nolin, I hope you never lose your insightfulness and your amazing desire to learn.  As you get older you won’t remember just how much you amaze your mother and I each day as you are approaching your second birthday.  Your accomplishments now are but a window into the incredible things you can achieve as you get older if you maintain your thirst for knowledge. I hope that you don’t have to wait as long as I did to appreciate truly how special this is.

I thought it was impressive when you knew the capitols of Florida, Virginia and California, but when you learned the capitols of Pennsylvania, Japan, China, Russia and others I started to realize I was in trouble. This was reinforced when you started speaking Gaelic.  Now if you are cold you exclaim tá sé fuar (it is cold). Yeah, I had to ask what that meant, but to watch you make the connection between feeling cold and knowing how to express it (in another language) is mind blowing.

Then you decided to get trilingual. One day while we were hiking in California Jenn said, we should start teaching Nolin some Spanish.  You can already count to 20, so we figured that would be a good place to start. Your mom began with uno, dos and out of nowhere you followed up with tres, cuatro, cinco, seis.

It took one more time to teach you 7, 8, 9, and 10.  I am almost 35 and I while I knew a few of those numbers, I was learning at the same time.  In a few short weeks you made it up to 20 (with a little help of course), and then you decided to add German (Ba you’d be so proud) to your repertoire of languages you can count to 10 in.

Even cooler is the fact that this is not simply repetition, you truly get it (or at least fake it well).  You can bounce back and forth between the languages when you are counting and have made the connection between the word and what the numbers mean.

Your new thing is now letters.  Your mom picked up these foam type of letters that we can put in the bathtub and when they get wet will stick to the wall.  For the most part you are pretty good at picking up a letter and telling us what it is, but your are almost 100% accurate if we ask you to find a letter.  I feel blessed that I can literally watch your mind working as you scan the letters and match them up in your head.

Letters have also been useful to head off a possible tantrum before it begins.  The other night we had to take you off your bicycle (actually a little 3 wheeler Harley compliments of Lee & Kelly).  Instantly you began asking for your bike, and the tears were about to begin…tantrum beginning in T-minus 3 seconds and counting. Quickly I said Nolin, what about the letter P? Yeah I know it doesn’t really make sense but it worked.

You replied with Where’s the letter P? Hmmmm.  I found it!  And just like that…tantrum avoided and I could pat myself on the back for my quick and effective crisis management response.

But it’s not just letters, numbers and languages, you seem to enjoy learning in general and really engage with anyone who wants to teach you something new.  Nolin as you grow up learning may seem to lose a little of its cool factor, but if there is anything that I can teach you from my ability to reflect back now it is that the knowledge you acquire growing up will last at long longer than flannel shirts, long hair, and yes even teenage girlfriends (Ba and Pop will fill you in on these debacles I am sure).

At 20 months, we have fortunately been able to visit a lot of places as a family, most you unfortunately wont remember, but this past San Diego trip I think you actually understood.  As we were walking through the desert we stumbled across an open spring, before I could say anything, you looked at me and said this is awesome. You followed that up with look daddy…it’s beautiful.  It took me back a little that you were able to put together what you were looking at with what you felt, or at least putting together an appropriate response to what you were seeing.  Now things that interest you tend to be Super Awesome which I guess is better than just awesome.

This type of recognition can also back fire though.  The other day we were standing outside and two younger girls were walking down the sidewalk (I would imagine probably 15 or 16 although I can’t even tell these days) and you shouted out Hey Ladies.

My jaw dropped, my face probably turned bright red and I just kept thinking to myself I didn’t teach him that…I swear. This topic Nolin I will save for an uncomfortable face to face conversation when you are older…with your mother.

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