Tuesday, March 15, 2011

He's Got Your Number

It's been a lot of fun to go on walks with my son through our neighborhood.  I've been doing this sort of thing almost daily for more than two-and-a-half years, staying in only if we have heavy rain, snow, tornadoes, or a high number of pollsters.  Until recently, Kyle had observed block after block of brownstones and other buildings without saying much about them.  Occasionally he'd want to go up on a stoop or open a gate, but otherwise he left most homes alone.  That was until the middle of last month, when he noticed the NUMBERS.

It was my fault.  I am always looking for new ways to make Kyle enjoy these walks outside, in part so I don't feel guilty dragging him out there just so I could feed my afternoon coffee addiction (it's the only way I know how to survive the toddler years).  I'd point out trees, cars, fire hydrants, and the occasional mugging, but nothing seemed to get the little guy excited.  Then, without thinking, I pointed to the addresses of the buildings. 

"Can you read that?" I asked about one of them.  I knew that Kyle already knew numbers, as I taught them to him very early on, when I was doing anything to get him away from those annoyingly loud baby toys.  Kyle stared at the number.

"EIGHT!  SIX!  NINE!  THREE!"  He was close.  The number was 398.  It seemed at first that my kid has trouble with his 6's and 9's, and might be a bit dyslexic.  But after a few more tries, he started getting the numbers right.  And that's when it struck him: the numbers are everywhere

Since then, every time we have gone out for a walk, Kyle has paused by each stoop to read off the address number.  As you can imagine, it's a very slow process, but one he absolutely loves.  Instead of going out for coffee, he now says we're going out "to look at numbers."  There's nothing like a child's happiness, so I give in.  In the meantime, Kyle has found ways to make these trips last even longer.  He now wants to climb up onto the first step of each stoop, probably to get a better look at the address.  Then he rattles off some nonsense before he shouts out the number, like a drumroll before we find out what's behind door number two:

"Digga digga digga DOO-doo!  FOUR! SEVEN! FIVE!"

That "DOO-doo" sound is his impression of the noise the subway makes before closing its doors.  Somehow that has found its way into much of Kyle's conversations these days. After he finishes reading the number, Kyle then takes a minute or so to get off the step.  Then he runs to the next home and does it all again.  What was once a twenty-minute walk to a coffee shop now takes three days.  Before the numbers, I would pick up my coffee and then go the long way home so that I could finish drinking it during the walk with Kyle.  Now every way home is the long way home.  For this reason alone we're not having Kyle take us to the hospital on his brother's delivery day...

Jennifer: "The contractions are happening more rapidly!  We have to go!"
Kyle: "Digga digga digga DOO-doo!  TWO! EIGHT! FOUR!"
Jennifer: "I don't know if we're going to make it!  The baby's coming!"
Kyle: "Digga digga digga DOO-doo! TWO! EIGHT! NINE-ummm-SIX!"
Jennifer: "Kyle, move it!  We've been out here for an hour, and we're still just a block from our home!"
Kyle: "Digga digga digga DOO-doo! TWO! EIGHT! EIGHT!"

I have to admit: it's fun to watch my son get so excited about numbers.  He probably won't get this worked up over numbers until he's an astrophysicist or an all-star pitcher studying his opponent's statistics.  At that point, he probably won't be taking as many walks with dear old dad.  So until this ends, I think I'll enjoy the long trips to get coffee.  I'm just glad he's doing this now, at the end of winter.

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