Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Infinite Plus One

Jenelle is pregnant with our fourth child, and the boys are excited, but as with most things that boys get excited about it, it is a source of many fights. Billy and Joey are in Mom and Dad’s camp, wanting the baby to be a girl; Jake wants a baby brother. So of course Jake will fight with the twins over the gender of the baby.

“It’s a girl.”


“Girl”, and so on, with Jake’s voice rising on each repetition. Most conversations these guys have follow a similar logic and progression – A, not A – until Mom or Dad intervene. But sometimes the twins will try to out-scale each other. Speaking about something that requires a metric, each will try to top the other with a larger number. But the only problem is that beyond twenty they don’t really know which numbers are bigger.

“Thirty hundred thousand” might start Joey’s bidding, but he will give up, imagining no number larger than Billy’s “fifteen fifty”, which clearly falls far below Joey’s. And sometimes they’ll even add in a unit of measurement for dramatic effect. Billy, just yesterday, came in with “98 degrees,” and followed by saying that that must be “the end of numbers.” What a concept! I chose not to tell him about infinite – too early for that mind-blowing concept, and that only adds complexity to the argument (infinite, infinite plus one, infinite plus infinite, and so on). For now I’ll let him believe he can still pull out the number that ends all arguments over comparative magnitude.

The “98 degrees” comment came while driving home from a pool in North Arlington, where we had just spent the last two hours. Billy and Joey have been getting private swim lessons the last two weeks, and they’ve made enough progress to be able to go off the diving board and swim to the ladder. After about 10 trips each off the low dive, the lifeguards opened the high dive. I ask if either is game, and at first they decline, but after a couple more jumps off of the low, Joe says he wants in. Of course, Jenelle brought the video camera for their last swim lesson, and captured the low-dive action, so we didn’t feel the need to bring it today. Don’t kids understand that their progress should be timed to coincide with us remembering the video camera?

The high dive has a flight of stairs leading to it, obviously superimposed over the original ladder. This is one of those added costs of about one thousand personal injury cases from people falling off of high-dive ladders all over the country, but I am glad – the high dive looks much safer and less bare. Joey scuttles up the stairs with a nervous smile and his little nervous laugh. He gets up there, starts to walk out to the end of the plank, looks down at me and gives me the thumbs up. Gets to the end of the board, pauses, looks back at me and says he’s nervous. I assure him he’ll be fine, just make sure to stay upright.

But in my mind there is great fear – what if he trips, falls off the board into a tuck position, and ends up doing a 1 and 1/2? If that happens, next thing you know he’ll be insisting upon buying a bird suit that is so tight it cuts off the circulation to his legs. Wouldn’t any parent be scared? He jumped without incident. Not even five years old, and he’s jumping off of the high dive! Billy, after four aborted attempts, where he got to the very end of the board and then came back, finally jumped. He jumped one more time after that, but wanted no more of it. Joey went at least another fifteen times. Now if we could only get either one of them to go upstairs by themselves during the day, a task for which both are deathly afraid.


Blogger the giant said...

I will never cease to be amazed at how kids react to different situations and what kids remember.

We recently went to Disney with our kids and my oldest, a 7 year old, was absolutely terrified in this 3D attraction called "Honey I Shrunk the Audience." I can understand how it could be frightening for kids, but my son was literally brought to tears. I thought his 5 or 4 year old brothers might be scared (the 4 year old was) but I didn't think the 7 year old would be the most frightened. I was also surprised right after we got out of the attraction and my 5 year old said "What the hell was that all about?"

7:42 AM  

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