The Attention Span is Widening

It’s easy to forget how much children understand.

Because there’s so much that they’re just so stupid about. I mean, they believe that a fairy actually wants to pay for their teeth. They think their parents can fix boo boos with kisses. They believe that there might someday be a zombie apocalypse….uh, nevermind on that last one.

As a child, I thought my parents knew everything. To the point where every time I saw someone, anyone, pass by us, I’d look to my parents and annoy them.

Me: “Who’s that?”

Dad: “That’s Joe.”

Me: “Joe who?”

Dad: “Joe Smith.”

Me: “Oh.” Points to a new person. “Who’s that?”

Because of exchanges like this, we forget that they have been squirreling little facts away in their brains. Things that they have deemed important. Things that we have no idea they are paying attention to.

One day, my parents decided to go get Mexican. I cheered!! I was so excited to go to Taco Bell. My parents gave each other a quick side-eye and silently agreed to go get real burritos. We hopped in the car. We turned right, left, right. We edged towards the real Mexican place.

My voice boomed ominously from the back seat: “THIS is not the way to Taco Bell.”

I still remember the toddler fury that coursed through my veins, blazing with indignation.

How dare they deceive me?

How dare they not serve me imitation Mexican food?

I was a ball of toddler angst. Had they seen me at that moment, the future producers of Twilight would be contemplating casting me in a future emo-film.

These remembrances come back at full force when I realize that Alex is putting pieces together that I did not anticipate. The look of shock and hurt when I take the hairbrush away from him astounds me.

How dare I take his plaything! How dare I deprive him of the opportunity to pretend-brush my hair!

The fact that he stands at the door and knocks to request entry while I take a shower similarly baffles me. Where did he learn that? How does he know to knock for access?

Why does he watch me like a hawk while I buckle and unbuckle his car seat? How soon will it be before he can liberate himself from that most basic of torture chambers?

Frankly, these instances chill my bones.

Because soon? Soon he will know the way to Taco Bell.

When we all know we should be going to Chipotle.