I know a boy. He’s sensitive and funny, unpredictable and cantankerous. He’s my boy. His own boy, really, but I’ve been lucky enough to be lent him in this lifetime. I love him. And I also wring my hands. And then I smile. Let’s call him Bookish.
When most of us have a raging headache, we crawl under the covers and whimper. He was doing this last evening, but narrating his thoughts as he did. “I’m telling my brain to only use my medulla and cerebrum, Mom. Because your medulla keeps you alive by telling your body to breathe. And the cerebrum controls your senses. I still want to be able to see and hear. But every other part of my cerebellum should just shut down right now and rest. Then my headache will go away.”
I see neurosurgeon in his future.
But, this is the boy who still erupts into gales of laughter at the word “fart.” Pshaw. Still thinking neurosurgeon. Just not urologist.
Nine times out of 10, his shirt is on backward, with a 50/50 chance of pants being on backward also. This morning, he remembered his snow gear and lunch, but his backpack stayed at home while he went to school. In the past month, we’ve lost his orchestra book, a library book, his spelling book, two pairs of mittens, a pair of snow pants and an entire set of Pokemon cards. He can do math like nobody’s business but don’t ask him to remember the ring for your wedding.
He frets in the back of the car because he can’t remember the parts of the epiglottis and this bothers him. (You never know when at eight years old, you might hop into Cash Cab and be asked that very question. He’s just being practical.) He chews on new words with a relish I love, telling his friend to “extrapolate” from a story he just shared. But ask him to eat pasta and he’ll cringe in horror. He never touches the stuff. Something about texture and taste. I often have to be sure he has on a matched pair of shoes, rather than one tennis shoe and one slipper.
Every day, we live this conundrum of book smart but absentminded. He is a challenge; most gifted kids are. They come with quirks and foibles, just like the rest of us—but perhaps turned up a notch. I tell myself God only sends them to mommies with a sense of humor. And patience. Lots of patience. I score high on the former and marginal on the latter. I think this is some kind of graduate course for my soul and his. Sans textbook, syllabus and study time before the final exam.
So I help my bookish boy along in the world, trying to teach him the practical skills he’ll need, even as he surpasses me in some of the intellectual ones. Call me Bonkers but I wouldn’t have it any other way. He puts me through my mental paces each and every day. Because why rest your cerebellum unless you have a headache?
I mean, really.