If you have read my blog at all in the past year, you will know the moment of brilliance I mention in the title is most certainly not my own. The terrible irony of the scene I am about to recount is that the discovery occurred as I plumbed the depths of my own derelict motherhood. It reminded me of all those accidental discoveries in history when the inventor is trying to invent something else but the experiment’s unintended byproduct changed the world: silly putty, play dough, dynamite, Velcro, LSD, Viagra and its antidote penicillin. Now who could live in a world without all of those things! Eva’s world would certainly be less without play dough, but I digress.
Last weekend, I let Eva stay up late again so I could finish my extra large cocktail before putting her to bed. Bedtime is always a specter that hangs over me, as I know I will have to deal with it at some stage, and all the whining and excuses that come with it. We read her three stories because she is three, and then she has to use the bathroom at the last gasp, she needs a drink, she is hungry, she is scared, she needs several scary toys removed from her room before she could possibly consider shutting her eyes. After she shuts her eyes, the lullaby machine must be turned on, her pajama pants rolled up to the knee and her legs stroked until she starts to drop off. Then I unfurl the pajama bottoms, tuck her in and sneak out of the room.
On the night in question, both her Daddy and I were in her room to kiss her goodnight and Daddy was going to read one story and mommy was going to read two stories. Daddy and I decided the best way to deal with this situation was to skip chapters, pages, sentences out of her new Disney storybook, and she would not be the wiser. My sister is moving house and gave us a bunch of her children’s books including an anthology of five minute Disney stories we have been reading to her over the last week. Five minutes doesn’t sound like a long time but five times three is fifteen minutes plus the bedroom routine I described above with Friday night wine and dinner on the other side of the bedroom door. Completely selfishly Daddy and I decided to skip a chapter of the story.
Eva did not miss a breath and began yelling, “No Mommy. No Mommy, you missed a part!” and started to claw back the pages of the book.
“She doesn’t miss a trick.” Said Daddy. We resumed where we left off, then I decided to miss just a page. “No Mommy, No Mommy, you missed another part.”
“Okay Eva,” and I returned to where I had left off. Undeterred by Eva’s attention to detail, I decided to skip just a sentence. Eva sat bolt upright, looked me in the eye, and with a forthright but polite manner, as if she was speaking to a complete dunce Eva said, “You missed a line mommy.” Then with extra slow pronunciation just in case her dumb as a post derelict mother might miss a syllable, she began to recite the story word for word from where I left off until the very end, Verbatim.
“A movie called the Invisible Monster with Ten Foot Claws was just beginning. Minnie and Daisy watched as an actress entered a spooky mansion. The door slammed behind her with a Bang! “Eeek” Minnie and Daisy jumped. “You’ll never get me monster! “ the actress cried. But soon she heard the scratch scratch scratch of the monster moving toward her. The monster chased the actress all over the house. Luckily she managed to escape. But Minnie and Daisy watched the rest of the movie with the lights on.” ETC ETC.
Her father and I stared at each other scratching our empty heads, wondering if what just happened was our imagination, her imagination or the vodka we just consumed.
“Eva can you read?” I asked.
Eva shrugged. I pointed to a word, “What does this say?” She shrugged again. It was then I realized that she wasn’t even looking at the pages; she was reciting them from memory.
“My god, “ I said to Daddy, “I have only read her this story a few times and she knows it word for word.” Mom’s love to state the obvious.
“Maybe she is like her uncle Mark and has a photographic memory?” I added.
“Maybe, she isn’t looking at the pages, she remembers if from hearing it, she must have an audiographic memory- is there such a thing?” Daddy asked.
Of course after ten minutes of stroking and rolling down the pajama pants and sneaking out of her room, I ran to Google and looked it up. Evidently there is something called Eidetic memory that occurs in a small number of children (2-10%) and generally is not found in adults, because if the ability is not nurtured it can fade by the age of six.
“Ugh,something else to do… How I am going to nuture this?” I wondered, then at the same time marveled that if I was a teetotaler and had never tried to short change my daughter out of her nite nite story for purely selfish reasons then I would never have discovered this amazing talent.
Now I just have to figure out how to put it to use/ turn a profit, before she is six. Vegas? The Circus? Daddy will probably just have her memorize the almanac of Tottenham Hotspur F.C. Maybe I’ll have her memorize all of my favorite Bette Davis movies. She can’t go around quoting Minnie mouse forever.
The following day I ran around telling everyone in the extended family that my child is “Gifted” to their collective expressions of doubt and skepticism. Is it so unbelievable that we could have a “gifted” child? Maybe it is? Maybe she will pay for her own college education, maybe I am dreaming? Maybe, Maybe not!
Here’s to the Gifted and to the Derelict and to all that is revealed in a Bedtime Story!
Xx Derelict Mom