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There’s an author I worked with, whom I also consider a friend, who has a son about six months older than Simon, also named Simon. [I swore to him at the time, truthfully, that “Simon” was on our short-list before I learned his son’s name.] We meet up at conferences about twice a year, during which time we catch each other up on what our respective Simons are up to and marvel at how much we’re in love with our sweet little boys.

When we last chatted, Brian was telling me about his son’s memory, and how it’s more developed than he or his wife expected. Specifically, at about two and a half, their Simon began talking about things that happened before he could talk well, things like his early days at pre-school or the day his parents took him out to choose and purchase a doll. “They’re taking in more than you realize,” my friend advised me. “Don’t underestimate him.”

Since that conversation, I’ve been waiting for Simon to regal me with tales of his first day at school or about the time we set up his train, and it hasn’t happened. Except I was made to realize yesterday that it absolutely has happened, I just missed the signs, because my Simon’s memory has manifest itself differently than the other Simon’s did.

We first got clues to this about a week ago, when we were pointing out friends and family in the two framed pictures in our hall. Matt asked Simon to say goodnight to Uncle Ian, Aunt Christine, and little Alise, because they are coming to visit us soon. Simon happily complied with the request, then threw out a goodnight to Shawn, who is also in the picture. Simon hasn’t seen Shawn for over a year, and we’ve only visited where Shawn lives twice. But he immediately gravitated to Shawn when we did visit, he loved playing with him, and he clearly has not forgotten his California buddy.

Then it began happening with books. I got out some books we hadn’t read in several months to refresh our pile, and Simon surprised me by knowing their titles and being able to “read” some of the inside text. This was a more obvious example of memory at work, as it involved rather lengthy recitations of text after a lengthy absence.

And the final shocker came three nights ago. Matt fired up the Winnie the Pooh featurettes we all used to like so much to ward off (yet another) evening of Cars. The final scene is Christopher leaving the Hundred Acre Wood and saying goodbye to his friends, as he is growing up going off to school. The scene is a metaphor for Christopher Robin leaving his childhood behind, and it’s so sweet that I get teary-eyed every time I see it.

Sunday night, when the music and narration that introduces this scene came across the screen, Simon looked up and Matt and said, “Christopher Robin going away now.” He hasn’t seen this movie in at least four months, and he never before discussed or, I thought, even understood the final scene.

He remembered and understood more than I realized, and I did indeed underestimate him. I’m also very grateful for my friend Brian’s advice, as I know it helped me recognize what was happening faster than I otherwise would have. Now I really must call him and see what his Simon is up to so I can get a jump-start on what my Simon will be doing next fall.

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