I understand that this is old news since I've been typing nearly nonstop about his escapades since last May. But one of my favorite things about Cael, aside from his spirited style and all-knowing smirk, is his ability to completely shock me even after more than four years.
Sometimes I'm shocked by the inventive ways he disobeys me. Sometimes I'm shocked when, in an uncharacteristic act of valor, he chooses NOT to disobey me. Sometimes I'm shocked that a four year-old boy can fit inside my smaller-than-standard refrigerator.
What surprised me most recently was Cael's savant-like memory. He is frequently asking if I remember the details of random and nonspecific events like "that time that we did that thing" and I am frequently shocked at my own ability to decipher that code and answer back with responses like, "Yes, I remember. But don't even ask to go there again. They probably still haven't gotten figured out how to get your wooden train our of that urinal drain."
But that's just part of being a mom.
I never expected that motherhood would find me being schooled by my son about specific and unimportant events from his past. Just last night, as we pulled out of the driveway to make a quick trip into town, Cael totally weirded us out with his unnatural memory of a similar jaunt that took place early last fall.
"Yep, I remember that."
"Remember how Mommy said that Graham and I could each pick a toy to bring?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"And you remember how I brought my tiny Thomas and Graham brought the tractor? Not the green one but the orange one?
"Uh, not really."
"And Daddy, we went to the ice cream store and you got the ice cream inside and brought it out to the motorhome and Graham and I had our little ice cream and you and Mommy had your own ice cream and when we were all done we went to Walmart and got some stuff and we got back in the camper and you drove us home in it and it was so funny?"
Fizzling fireboxes. This kid has superpowers.
Cael has offered up these sorts of details before, describing events that I would swear never took place. But each time, either as an epiphany during our conversation or while browsing through old photos two weeks later, I come to discover that Cael was right all along. He did ride an airplane "that one time" and he did climb inside a tree "at that place".
But I had to challenge my little memory keeper this time. Once he started quoting the instructions I'd given him about riding in the Airstream, I concluded that either he'd been watching movie clips of that night that I didn't remember taking, or I needed to put a call in to Tom Cruise to help take care of the newest Rain Man.
"Cael, what kind of ice cream did you have?"
"I don't remember."
Hah. I knew it couldn't last.
"You guys shared some vanilla." Joel offered up.
"Well then what was it?" I questioned.
"I still don't remember."
Satisfied that my son still had a shot at a normal life, I dropped the subject until this morning, when I remembered a detail of that day and, on a whim, asked Cael if he remembered too.
"Do you remember what you wore when we got ice cream?"
"My red shirt. And Graham wore his peejees. The ones with the penguins, not the Elmo ones."
I wish I could say that Cael's superhuman gift has led to a wealth of memories; advice and lessons to teach him how to behave and how to navigate the world as he grows. But like most extraordinary minds, he is not able to filter out the important details from the white noise.
And unfortunately for Cael, the important details could lead to his success in life, while the "static" is mostly fart noises and snippets of "Thomas the Train".
Poor guy never stood a chance.
"I had my own."
"What are you talking about?"
"That night that we drive the motorhome. Graham and I had our own ice cream. But there was no cone, just a bowl. And I didn't have to share with Graham. But it wasn't really a bowl-- it was one if those lids like the one you had on your ice cream. And I ate all of mine before Graham because he was playing with the pillows and you......"
Definitely extraordinary. Yes. Definitely extraordinary.