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Hangin’ Loose

Tom has a loose tooth on his bottom row. This means soon Will and Sam will have loose teeth, too. Jack’s already sporting a snaggletoothed grin, so I suppose it was only a matter of time. Tom looks at the thin line of blood at the gum line in the mirror. He’s torn between horror and jubilation. He skips across the floor to show me his progress, then skips back to the bathroom to continue monitoring his progress in the mirror.

I’m not surprised he’s the first of the triplets to sprout a grown up tooth. Hardly anything surprises me about Tom any more. Something I’ve only shared in snippets is Tom’s tendency to race ahead on milestones, but since this is essentially a glorified baby book, I’m sharing these next few things so I’ll remember them years from now.

Tom is…smart. Really, really smart. Like learning-everything-Jack-is-learning-almost-as-fast-as-Jack-learns-it smart. I’ve re-read that sentence twice now, and it still doesn’t convey what I mean for it to. Everyone thinks their children are bright. I think all of mine are exceptional. But his dad and I actually refer to Tom as our “singularity” — meaning everything we think we’ve learned about child-rearing on the other three doesn’t seem to apply to Tom. Even more so than with the other three, we feel like we’re just making it up as we go along.

Last night, Tom was frustrated that Jack was having a turn with something he wanted. In an effort to distract him, and knowing how much he likes puzzles, I thought I’d see what he thought about simple algebra. When I wrote 2 + 3 = x, he died laughing. Literal belly laughing, as if I’d just told the funniest joke he’d ever heard.

“Mom! That’s 5, not x!”

I went on to explain that x was just pretending to be a number, and we had to find which number x was pretending to be. We worked a few more with me explaining as we went along. Finally, I summed up.

“See babe, it’s like a see-saw. The equal sign is the middle of the see-saw, and we have to make the other two sides balance.

“Oh, so it’s like measuring,” Tom said.

I was stumped. “How is it like measuring, babe?” I asked.

“Well, if the one side is too light it goes up, and if the other side is too heavy it goes down. Like me and Will.”

I grinned; it was a lot like weights and measures. “Right, Tom! You want both sides to be even — like when you and Jack see-saw.”

We talked about numbers for a while longer, then Tom ran off to play.

There’s no moral to this story. I just want to be sure I remember that moment, his laughing at x, and his satisfaction at finding the answers to every problem I posed.

If there’s anything I worry about, it’s failing to provide him with enough variety to keep him interested. Because he’s so much MORE than a calculator. His handwriting is gorgeous, he draws beautifully. His construction paper creations are frame-able. He can memorize long passages with very little effort, provided he can read them as well as hear them. And he LOVES to be the center of attention, so I’m thinking maybe drama would be a good idea. But I have NO CLUE how to even get started on something like that.

When you’re the parent, it often seems like you’re constantly being dropped in the center of uncharted territory.┬áSo that’s my job, I guess. To figure out what he might like, then blaze a trail to get him the opportunity. Sounds easy right?

Well it’s not. Not even a little. But I’m trying to stay relaxed. Hangin’ loose like Tom’s baby tooth, trusting I’ll find the right road at the right time.

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