Questions from Isaac

Isaac has constantly surprised us with his intense curiosity, his rapid understanding and ability to recall and apply concepts to novel situations.

Then last night, he quite outdid himself. Ning and I were having dinner and Isaac was playing in the dining area. He was looking at a bottle of screen cleaner — basically clear soapy liquid in a transparent container. After a while, he moved from the dining area where there were red chairs and a dark carpet to the white marble floor a few paces away. Then he commented “You can see more clearly there!”

I asked him why, thinking he was going to say something about brightness because the dining area was closer to the light, and that would have been a concept quite well within his grasp. But instead, he answered “Because the floor is white here.”

Which had me stunned for a moment and I quickly checked with Ning if he ever taught Isaac that. He didn’t, and the closest I could think of was how I explained to Isaac once that he could see the dark pupils in his toy cat’s eyes because its irises were blue; but in my eyes the iris is dark so it’s hard to see the pupil. That was the closest we taught him about colour contrast so it was quite amazing to hear him understand and apply it to a different context.

By now, he’s also started asking questions that we have to take a moment to think about before we can answer (such as the surprisingly deep question — why is ice cold?). Ning and I are going to have to do quite a bit of homework to refresh all the stuff we learnt when we were younger and to find ways in which we can teach them to him in an accurate way which can be built upon as he grows older! But it’s going to be such fun!

Impossible Twos

Isaac has always been a sweet little boy and I think he skipped the entire terrible twos phase. But! Recently, he’s starting to throw a bit of tantrums! No kicking or lying down screaming yet — he just cries and whines. Unfortunately, what he cries and whines about are IMPOSSIBLE THINGS!

For instance, he sometimes demands that a basket keep spinning forever and when we tell him that you need to keep spinning it to keep it going, he cries and demands for “no friction!”. At night, when he plays with the basket, he might suddenly demand for “no shadows!” It’s usually possible to reason with him, but once in a while he works himself up over not wanting friction and shadows.

Then, most recently, Isaac’s gotten it into his head that he does not want my car to give off exhaust fumes! (I know right, what kind of two-almost-three year old is this?!) And that is even though HE HAS NEVER ACTUALLY SEEN EXHAUST FUMES COMING OUT FROM MY CAR. He knows about exhaust fumes because he has a little car at home and we’ve explained the parts of the car including the purpose of the tailpipe to him. And one of his books surprisingly has a picture of an engine and Ning has explained the workings of an engine (including how exhaust fumes would be produced). But he hasn’t seen the fumes coming out from my car, or ANY CAR for that matter. So it’s pretty much just a concept to him!

Even so, for the past few car rides, he complains and complains after getting into the car that he does not want exhaust fumes coming out from Mama’s car, can Mama please turn off the exhaust fumes. Sometimes he gets all worked up over it and becomes inconsolable. We sometimes ask him “Can you actually see the exhaust fumes?” but he ignores this and keeps complaining. During the most recent car ride I’ve taken to explaining that it is IMPOSSIBLE to have no exhaust fumes coming from a petrol engine unless the car has stopped moving. If he likes he can study this when he grows up and create a zero emission petrol engine which would be the boon of environmentalists the world over. Alternatively, we would have to get an electric vehicle. (Yes, all these were in my explanation, including acknowledging what a good environmentally conscious boy he was, while laughing because it was such a hilarious conversation to be having.) Anyway, by the time we got to the end of the ride, he seemed somewhat convinced (or perhaps he was bored of my insistent explanations).

So! I am glad that we managed to maintain scientific accuracy in our conversations with him when it would have been easier to say “Ok Mummy will switch off the exhaust fumes”. But I certainly hope my little environmentally-conscious-engineer-in-the-making doesn’t come up with more impossible demands!

Still Chasing the Rain

It started raining while Isaac was still having his nap so I went into the room to check on him — only to see him sitting quietly on the bay window watching the storm outside. And it was a while before he discovered my presence.

Earlier in the day, I was just reflecting on how different Isaac and Isabel are. Isabel is so much easier to take care of whereas Isaac was such a challenge for so long in his younger days.

But there are moments like these when it startles me how alike Isaac and I are — how we both watch the rain — and I find it hard not to think about how this little boy, as he is now, will always be a favourite in my heart.

Then again, life is long and it is also true that my sweet little boy will someday belong to another, and I will no longer be the most important woman in his life. At the same time, Isabel and I will always be forging our own unbreakable bond — we will understand each other, our love for our mothers and children, in the way only mothers and daughters can.

So all is well and on this rainy night I will once again sleep between my two beloved children and feel my heart smart with love.