Archive for November, 2009


Are You Smarter than a 3-year-old?

November 24, 2009

Now, your first instinctual answer to this question might be “Of course, my brain is much more developed, and my vocabulary is bigger, and I can do math. Case closed.”  But let’s think about this a little more.  It depends on how we are defining intelligence here.  If we are talking about the academic sort of knowledge, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue and what the square root of 49 is, then sure, the fact that you are able to read these printed words probably indicates that you are smarter than a three-year-old.  If we are talking about social knowledge, having awareness of norms and mores, then the understanding that eating anything that formerly resided in your nose is a bad idea probably sets you ahead of most of the preschool set.  But neither of those is exactly what I want to address here.  The closest I can label it is street smarts.  Could you, in a battle of wits, outsmart a toddler?  I recently had the chance to find this out for myself.

Molly, the three-year-old that I nanny, is quite the homebody.  Despite all the funtivities that I come up with, she never wants to leave the house.  Her mother has said that I should just force her to leave, and once we’re out she’ll be fine.  This has proven true, generally.  So last Friday, I decided we would go to the park in the morning.  When I asked Molly if she would like to go to the park, she wailed “Noooo,” in a whine bordering on tantrum territory.  Sensing danger, I tried to wheedle her with my best tactics.  “Kate really wants to go, we shouldn’t disappoint her,” I said, using the baby as a pawn in my schemes.  This did not move Molly.

Then I had a stroke of brilliance. Evil genius, really.

“Hey, I have an idea!” I exclaimed.  Then I paused.  “Actually, I probably shouldn’t tell you. You won’t like it.”

I told you. Evil.

“What? No, I’ll like it, I promise,” Molly insisted. “Are you sure?” I said with my best faux hesitation, laughing maniacally in my head at my amazing powers of manipulation.  “Yes, I really want to know!” Molly pressed.  “Well, I’m thinking… you could wear your fairy wings to the park and we can pretend to be fairies!” I exclaimed.  “Yeah!” Molly said excitedly.  I smiled inwardly at my victory. I was Smart.

I got Molly’s dress-up box off the shelf, and we pulled out her three pairs of fairy wings.  “So which ones do you want to wear?” I asked, still patting myself on the mental back.  “Um, these ones…” Molly selected a pair exploding with tulle.  “Excellent,” I said, turning to put them aside.  “…And you can wear these ones!” Molly finished with a smile.

My glee diminished. My plan had backfired. I was Dumb.

“Um, what? I don’t need wings, I have a big imagination,” I insisted.  “No, you will wear these ones, and Kate can wear these ones,” Molly decreed.  There was no arguing with her.  The battle was lost.

Five minutes later, there we were walking down the street, surely the strangest little parade the neighborhood had seen in a while, looking like a scene straight out of a Wes Anderson film.  Molly led the way in tulle and gold glitter wings.  Kate sat in her stroller, pink gauze wings propped behind her, and I pushed her, wearing purple and pink butterfly-esque wings.  I looked neither left nor right, but I could see cars actually stop as they passed us out of my peripheral vision.  We got to the park as quick as I could urge Molly to walk (sorry, fly, obviously).  Luckily there was no one at the park when we arrived, so we could flap about in peace.  We gathered plants for the “Fairy Contest,” whose rules, goals and purpose I am still pretty unclear on, and climbed on the playground.  Then the time came for the Contest, which involved Molly ordering us to run as fast as we could from one point in the field to another.  And as I zig-zagged across the meadow, wearing fairy wings and clutching a very confused baby Kate to my chest, all that played in my head over and over was “I have a college degree. I have a college degree. What am I doing?! I have a college degree!”

Then came a moment that makes me think three-year-olds are smarter than we give them credit for.  As we ran back towards the playground, Molly called to me “Ok, now we both need to stop what we’re doing, and look at each other.”  We both stopped running, and she looked up at me for about five seconds, and smiled. Then she took off again.  And as I watched her prance away, wings bobbing and hair flying, I thought, we should probably all stop what we’re doing and look at each other a more often.  We might appreciate people a little bit more.  I certainly flew back into fairy time with a sense that it was about more than being a fairy, and maybe more important than anything I’ll do in an office.  Certainly more fun, in any case.


Welcome to the Freak Show

November 15, 2009

They say that college and the years after graduation are a time of growth, discovering who you really are.  Well, I’ve been discovering who I am, and let me tell you, some of these discoveries are not so welcome.  Turns out, who I am is a freak.  Things that I thought were totally normal… not so much.

One night during my sophomore year, some girlfriends and I were together studying.  And by studying, I mean holding textbooks open on our laps while we watched a chick flick and ate junk food, apparently absorbing information by osmosis.  One particular weakness our group has is sour patch kids.  I’m not that into them personally, but Liz and Anne could eat them all the live-long day, so there was a big bag to accompany this riveting study session.  As we munched away, I at one point commented “Man, my eyelids are getting sweaty.”


“What?” Liz finally asked.  “My eyelids,” I said again. “They’re sweating. Because of the candy… because it’s sour… what?” Three appalled faces stared back at me.  I started to become concerned. “Does this not happen to anyone else?!”

“No!” Adrienne exclaimed.  The other two shook their heads.  “What do you mean, your eyelids get sweaty?” Anne asked suspiciously.  “When I eat sour things, like orange juice or candy, my eyelids sweat, mostly the lower ones…” They all examined my face, which was now burning with the shame that comes from being a part of the freak show.  “I thought it was normal!”

You will soon see that this is a theme in my life.

The summer after sophomore year, I went on a trip to Ukraine to help run a summer camp at an orphanage.  As we stood in a circle one morning praying, all staring at the ground (because as we all know, God only listens when you look at the dirt), my teammate Jess suddenly gasped. “Lindsey, what is wrong with your feet?!”  I looked down, as did everyone else, to see this:


I know, it's like something out of the exorcist, right?

“What?” I said, looking up, only to be greeted with horrified expressions all around.  “Why are you standing like that?!” our team leader Jenna asked. “Doesn’t it hurt?!” Jess exclaimed.  “Well, no, I just stand like that sometimes… can you guys not do that?”  Yet again, I was met with slow head shakes, and expressions that indicated I was now considered part robot, alien, or both.  Dangit.

I’ve learned to hide the rolling ankles, but sometimes I can’t control it.  I’ll be walking along like normal when suddenly one ankle will cave inward.  This doesn’t pose much of a problem when I’m in flats, but put me in high heels, and those three inches combined with my utter lack of coordination in general results in me occasionally plummeting to the sidewalk for no apparent reason.  I get a lot of concerned looks from strangers.

So I decided that maybe I should strengthen my ankles to help with this problem.  One of my roommates was a kinesiology major and now works as a physical therapist, and another is studying to be an occupational therapist, so I thought “Perfect! Maybe they’ll have some exercises I can do.”  When I got home from work Kristina was sitting on the floor talking with some friends, and I asked if she knew of anything.  Since we had moved in not long ago she hadn’t yet seen my Gumby-like legs, so I demonstrated for her.  “That’s so interesting!” she exclaimed, fascinated by my elastigirl quality.  “I’m not sure how you could work on that. I mean, you’ve got this extra bump here…”

I’m sorry, what?

“Here, on the inside of your foot.  This bone here.” She pointed.  “Other people don’t have that bump?!” I asked in alarm.  “No, most people only have two, see?” She showed me her own ankle.  “WHAT?!” I cried.  “Does everyone only have two?!” The others hiked up their pant legs to show me their normal, two boned ankles.  While others had been disgusted by my freakish qualities before, I had never felt so shocked by it.  What was the extra bump?  An additional bone?  A tumor?  A twin I had absorbed in the womb?  One friend suggested that since I sometimes stand on the inside of my ankles that my body was trying to form another heel there. This did not make me feel better. We pulled out Kristina’s textbooks to try and figure out what it was without much luck.  Here you can see a diagram of the bones in a foot, and a picture of my foot.


Normal ankle. See the one bump?



ankle labels final

My own ankle, labeled as best as I can guess










Looking at the diagram, it seems like it could be the Talus, just much bigger than everyone else’s, but I’m not convinced.  The picture doesn’t even do justice to my ankle, it’s a pretty significant bump, on both ankles.  So there you have it.  Freak status, officially confirmed by college textbooks.  But on the plus side, I’ve decided to make some extra income by charging money to watch me walk on the inside of my ankles while I drink orange juice and my eyelids sweat.