Saturday, June 7, 2008

So much and yet so little brain power

I am constantly amazed by how much I know, when tested, and conversely, how little I know. Ever since Josh entered the "Why?" stage, I have been surprised (and sometimes even amazed) by the tiny gems of knowledge hiding in the dark pockets of my brain. While explaining everything from why a lake is different than an ocean and why we can't drive any faster than we are already driving to how windmills, cars, airplanes, and hair dryers work (and all the whys that inevitably follow one of those explanations), I am surprisingly quick at fetching simple, basic knowledge that I'm not sure I would have claimed to know before Josh was born. 

I am also astonished by how many insignificant details I can retain, not to mention how many I am now required to retain, as I chase my son through each day. At a moment's notice, I can tell you where each of his 22 die-cast Pixar cars are, name every child in his preschool class, recount insignificant tales from playgroup two months ago, remind him what he had for dinner the night we went to that place with the red umbrellas, and immediately locate each of three rotating sippy cups, no matter where Josh may have dropped them when enthralled with something infinitely more interesting.

However, all that data is evidently overwriting precious memory space in my brain — space likely already allocated to more basic (and lifesaving) knowledge: remembering to turn off the stove or toaster oven when I have finished cooking, finding one of my things when it is within arm's reach (or on top of my head) without tearing up the house for an hour before I realize it is right in front of my face (and sometimes even on my face or in my hand), and recalling basic personal information when unexpectedly asked, such as my name, phone number, or address. It turns out that those skills are rarely readily accessible. So for all the time I save being able to magically find Josh's missing shoe when we're already late for school is often spent later in the day when I make fifteen phone calls to research something I later realize I already researched, such as where's the best place to take my car for a major service. 

Even speaking is sometimes difficult. I struggle to find the word I'm looking for, even when it's a very basic adjective or synonym. I forget appointments. I make promises I can't remember long enough to write down so I at least have a chance at fulfilling them. And I can't tell you how many times a month I buy the wrong thing, whether it be whole milk instead of 1%, pasteurized instead of unpasteurized orange juice, or conditioner instead of shampoo. For someone who makes a living as a detail-oriented freelance copy editor, I provide my husband endless entertainment. Sometimes he can't believe I can find my way to Josh's preschool twice a week, let alone find subtle inconsistencies in 50-page technical documents with topics I'm not versed in.

Yet somehow, I manage each day to stay alive. And more importantly, I manage to keep my kid alive, which I guess are my two most basic responsibilities as a parent. The peanut butter sandwich may have ketchup on it instead of jelly, and the park we tell the playgroup moms to meet us at may or may not be the one we actually show up to, but Josh still thinks his mom knows everything (and at his age, that's still a good thing). And I even manage to occasionally impress myself with nuggets of knowledge pulled out at precisely the right moment. After all, I am the only mom I know who can name the starting goalie for most NHL teams. And I try really hard not to worry about what crucial data that trivia has overwritten inside my head. Watevver itt is, I'mm shure it'z nott impoortent.


gigi said...

"insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids," is what I used to remind myself, when confronted by the instances you write about! The nice part is that it just about disappears when the kids are older.

Kate said...

Ha - I am also knee deep in the "whys" - sometimes I wish I was deaf! I think I'm going to count all the times my son asks "Why?" tomorrow and see what I come up with!

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