Thursday 29 Sep 2016

Sun Bites
AJ Robinson

That’s what my daughter used to complain about, every morning, as I drove her to preschool. Her first real experience with pain was when she got bitten by some fire ants in our backyard. After that, anytime something hurt her, she said it was biting her. Such is the logic of a small child.

Anyway, she wondered why the sun would bite her every morning going to preschool, and also bite her every afternoon, as my wife drove her home. The sun seemed very mean; always positioning itself to bite her. So, I explained that the sun rose each morning in the east, which was the direction we were driving, and set in the afternoon in the west. She nodded, sitting in her car seat, and promptly asked about the other directions. I wasn’t sure as to how much she could take in, but I figured – eh, what the hay, let’s go for broke. So, I told her about north and south: that on our left was north, and south was to the right. Again, she nodded, and seemed very accepting of the whole thing.

Of course, my expectation was that, from now on, anything in front of her would be east, behind her would be west and north and south would be left and right, respectively. In most cases, that’s how things are with kids. I even remember a similar scene in the book 101 Dalmatians. A spaniel tries to explain left and right to Missis, the female lead, but she just doesn’t get it.

After that we didn’t speak of the subject at all; it was essentially a settled matter. Or so I thought. When you consider that the attention span of the average kid is about fifteen minutes, I figured there was no way the story would be remembered.

A short time later, my wife related a surprising incident to me. She was driving our daughter home from daycare, when, out of the clear blue, she announced: “We’re going north.” My wife said that she had sort of rolled her eyes in disbelief; she figured our daughter was just being silly. So, she asked her how she knew that. Well, our daughter launched into a long dialectic about, since it was the afternoon, the sun was setting in the west, and since the sun was on their left, it meant west was to the left. Therefore, that meant they were driving north.

Q.E.D.

My wife was floored! How in the world did she know all that? She asked our daughter that very question, and that led to her explaining how I had explained the concept to her. It was when they got home that my wife gave me the full report on their little chat. I confirmed that I had indeed given our daughter all the info on the sun’s movements and the compass points, but I hadn’t expected her to retain – let alone make use of – the data.

That was the beginning of our suspicions that maybe, just maybe, our daughter was a little bit gifted in the intellect department.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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