Feb 16, 2013  •  In Claire, Geek, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal

That Moment When…

We both knew it would happen one day. We just didn’t think it would be so soon.

Yesterday, at 28 months old, our Claire Emmanuelle outsmarted us.

Okay, not exactly “outsmart” in the veritable definition of the word. ( out·smart : to get the better of; especially : outwit )  More accurately, she performed a mental feat which surpassed that of us, her parents.

Please allow me to explain.

Last week I received an Amazon credit from Ebates and decided to spend it on some new toys for the girls. (Why isn’t everyone on Ebates? You get cash back for shopping online. No, seriously. How the heck do they even make money?)

One of the toys was the Melissa & Doug Magnetic Farm Hide and Seek Puzzle.


As you can see from the picture above, each hinged door opens to reveal a different farm animal. Because the shapes of each animal piece do not fit perfectly into the cutouts, you have to rely on the background designs to get the animal into the correct space. To add an extra level of difficulty, some of the animals will fit comfortably in multiple spaces.

Could you tell that the cat belongs in the upper right space, while the chickens go in the upper left?

Claire was expectedly excited to receive her new toy. However, as is the case with most toddlers, her interest in playing with the toy in the way it was designed to be played was soon replaced by another activity: gathering all the farm animals into her toy kitchen sink for a group bath.  🙄

Soon, it was bedtime and she went to bed. Nothing unusual, right? But what happened the following morning surprised us all.

She entered the living room with her giraffe in her arms, her hair adorably tousled and eyes still blurry. But as soon as her gaze fell on her newest toy, her expression became bright and alert. She made a beeline for it, and opened a hinged door to see that there was nothing underneath.

I was about to remind her that she had left the animals in the toy kitchen sink, but she went there without any prompting on my behalf and gathered the animals into her tiny hands. She carried them back to the farm and sat down, clearly readying herself to put each animal back where it belongs.

I prepared myself to start helping her. To emphasize the sizes of each animal shape and point out the background designs. To gently correct her if she made any mistakes.

But before I could even say anything, she started to confidently set each piece in its correct place. What amazed me about this was that she seemed to have already memorized the board:

  1. Start with all the doors closed.
  2. Take a random animal from the pile and open the correct door without any hesitation, place the piece inside the cutout, and shut the door.
  3. Repeat.

I realize there are only 9 doors on the puzzle. But how the heck did she memorize the entire board in just the few minutes she had played with it the previous night? And how the heck did she NEVER open a door she had already filled with an animal? (Cross my heart — I’m being 100% honest here!)

Because, dude. Even J and I can’t do that.

And to be completely honest, we still can’t do that. I mean, if we sat down and purposely made ourselves memorize the board, I’m sure that we could. But at this point, we open incorrect doors and search for the right space for each animal.


Gosh, what will come next? She’s been talking back to us ever since she began speaking. She tries to negotiate with us when we try to bargain with her (ex: I’ll tell her that she can have a cookie if she’ll let me clip her toenails, and she’ll reply, “How about my fingernails instead?”) We can no longer make her empty promises (ex: We’ll tell her that she can watch a certain movie or show the next morning because she needs to go to bed now…and she’ll not only remember that we had made her the promise, she will recall the exact movie or show when she wakes up.).

Heck, she’s already been correcting her aunt‘s Cantonese!

I don’t like bragging about my kids too much lest I turn into those braggy moms from The Joy Luck Club. But wow. I think it’s safe to say that Claire’s one smart cookie

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8 Responses to “That Moment When…”

  1. digal704 says:

    Of course Claire is a smart girl! It’s so special when our kids do something that throws us for a loop! I loved Joy Luck Club. I doubt you would ever be as obnoxious as Waverly’s mom tho! Carrying the magazine down the street for all to see?!

  2. She’s a smart one! 🙂
    Don’t worry, I’ll only start questioning you as a Joy Luck Club Mom if you start her on chess competitions. 😉

  3. Fernando Leiria says:

    My son was that kind of smart. Of the 08 types of inteligence, the abstract one (i.q.) is very high, but the interpessoal not so… When adolescence began, was complicated! If you do not mind, I suggest: ever do things as you spoked, without double messages. :))

  4. Allison says:

    My 20-month-old son is more interested in stacking and subsequently knocking things over, climbing, throwing, jumping from a crate onto the bed, watching ‘Cars’, playing with toy cars, etc., and cannot sit still for even a moment, unless he’s watching ‘Cars’ of course. I know many people say girls tend to develop faster intellectually than boys, but I can’t help being just a little bit jealous of Claire’s achievement. Maybe in another eight months..?

    • I really think it has more to do with personality than the whole boys vs girls thing! Claire has ALWAYS been a thinker and a bit of a wiseass (even when she couldn’t talk!), whereas Aerin sounds much more like your son. In fact, we call her “Little Godzilla” because she seems so hellbent on destroying everything!

  5. Jina says:

    PLEASE continue to brag about Claire and Aerin!!!! I love reading about the little GEEK-isms they are picking up!

  6. Angela says:

    I am all for you bragging away!!! Seriously, she is incredible! And what I’ve ALWAYS loved about you and your blog is your honesty. No shame in being proud of your kiddos!! 😀

  7. Ashley says:

    Go Claire! Their tiny brains are just amazing, aren’t they? I wasn’t around kids much (hardly at all) before having G, so all the new things he’s learning at school are just astounding to me. He’s a tiny sponge! (So much so that I have to be exceptionally careful of what I say around him. Oops.)

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