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In late May, Simon said a few things that gave the illusion of his possessing adult understanding or common adult fears. At the time, it was his description of insomnia and stated fear of getting old that caught me off guard. I don’t think he fully understood what he said, but he gave a convincing performance of existential dread in the three-year-old.

His new tricks are playing at figurative language and giving off the illusion of understanding that he is a child.

Figurative language first: It’s become a habit of ours to describe the various cats in our families. Percival is a serious cat. Tristan is a happy cat. And TJ is a playful cat. These three adjectives get bandied about almost every day: serious, happy, playful. Then about two days ago Simon informed me that “TJ is made of playful.” Simple grammatical misconstruction or attempt at figurative speech? I’m still not 100% sure.

Next up, awareness of being young and/or different: The last week has been marred by some stomach aches, resulting in later than usual bedtimes and a return of the unlamented midnight partial awakening. About three nights ago Simon awoke in tears at just after midnight. Matt and I lay in bed waiting to see if the cries would fade to sleep or escalate into something requiring intervention.

They escalated; Matt offered to go in. From my bed on just the other side of the wall, I heard the vignette play out.

Said as he opens the door: “Simon? It’s Daddy. Are you OK, buddy?”

Said in gasps between sobs: “I can’t find my Dirty Dog! I lost Dirty Dog!”

Response in super calm voice: “Let me find him. I bet he’s just under the covers again. Here he is little guy. See?”

Said in gulps as sobs abate, in a confused tone: “Why am I so upset?”

Matt tells me he’s heard this before recently. And again, we don’t know if it’s a verbal tic, him repeating a question we ask (“Why are you so upset?”), or something else entirely. But for all the world it looks and sounds like a kid who understands that he’s gotten more upset about something than he can explain or that an older person would. It’s an uncanny imitation of self-awareness that he can’t possibly (can he?) possess.

One Response to “Illusions”

  1. blg says:

    Hmmm…I am voting for uncanny self-awareness. Keep us posted.

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