The problem with having a young genius and future Ivy leaguer and Nobel Prize recipient on your hands is that, for now, your house is the laboratory.
My youngest daughter, Princess Genius, who turned three-years-old last week, is as bright a child as you are likely to meet, and for a few more years, at least, our home will be the subject of many more tests, experiments, trial runs and undertakings of every kind.
Our family friend Paul uttered a surprisingly accurate prophesy about Princess Genius just after she turned a year old.
“She seems quietly curious about everything.”
“Quiet” and “curious.”
These two words, if said separately to describe your child, would be just fine. There is nothing wrong with “quiet.” The world needs quiet people as much as it needs loud folks.
Her sister, Princess Supergirl, is perhaps the loudest curious child you will ever meet. Her personal philosophy about getting needed information on a subject is to bludgeon the nearest adult into submission with a broadside of questions that makes me think that she has a future as a trial lawyer who specializes in the cross examination. (“Dad, you claim that we should not eat ice cream before bedtime, yet I distinctly heard you and Mom talk about eating a bowl of cookies and cream and watching a movie after Princess Genius and I go to bed. Is that the truth or isn’t it? Is that ice cream on your breath? I think the jury, made up of my stuffed animals, would like to hear about this!”)
Neither is “curious” a bad word. I was so curious about the world that my wonderful mother, who was no doubt tired of answering questions, simply handed me the “A” encyclopedia and sent me off to read the entire set. This has made me a killer Trivial Pursuit player, though my cannon of knowledge stops at the year 1970. (What ever happened to that President Richard Nixon guy?)
Quiet and content about life? Fine. Loud and curious? Also fine.
No, it’s the combination of quiet and curious that is such a deadly gumbo. Add in a pinch of self-motivation and a touch of sense of humor and you have the quietly orchestrated home experiments like the Caldwell household has been subject to recently.
It is a common thought when it comes to children that, if they are “playing quietly” somewhere, then everything is fine. For some reason I still battle this faulty logic when it comes to Princess Genius.
A few weeks ago, I was working diligently at my computer in our upstairs office while Princess Genius was entertaining herself with her dolls and other toys in her room.
Then I heard her dash to her sister’s room and back again several times, and then to the bathroom for just a second and then back into her room. She repeated this pattern in a quiet and no doubt determined way while I blissfully typed away.
Now, for a writer, any peaceful moment in a house with children is worth a bag of gold, and, since Princess Genius was being quiet and seemed to be occupied, I continued to work away. I should have known better, but sometimes you make that quiet wager with yourself that everything is fine and just as it should be.
And then a bit later, after an extended period of quiet, I heard the multiple flushes of the toilet and then listened to Princess Genius run into her room, slam her door and run into her closet. (Where she is known to hide when an experiment goes awry.)
As I sat at my keyboard, the clouds in my brain finally parted and I put the two actions together.
Multiple toilet flushes plus running and hiding in your closet equals something bad!
Indeed, it was bad.
From what I can deduce from the carnage at hand, she was attempting to flush the entire contents of the upstairs of our house in a bold experiment of “what goes down and what does not.” (The official results are that small toys and paper towels will go down while bigger objects like dad’s electric razor and a tube of toothpaste will simple twirl around and around the bowl in a hypnotic fashion.)
I have also learned (the hard way, naturally) that we should get her a drink when she requests one, lest she should attempt to tussle with a gallon of milk at 5 a.m. … (don’t ask).
So, happy birthday, Princess Genius; may you someday grow up to be the girl who finds a cure for cancer or a true green energy alternative.
In the meantime, would you like to go outside?