Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

A numbers game

Leta’s favorite bedtime books are not the ones that tell stories, but rather ones that allow her to show off her amazing sense of recall. She loves alphabet books where she has to identify every object on the page — there’s the apple and the airplane and the avocado, except she says the apple, the hairplane, and the cahnnocado. She enjoys pointing to all the animals on their respective pages, tiger on the T page, lion on the L page, mangaroo on page K. Our neighbor was clearing out her children’s toys a few weeks ago and gave Leta a small, plastic Noah’s Ark with a slew of animals. Leta went through and named off every animal, and when she got to the miniature Noah she stopped short and looked at me to give her a clue. Before I could explain who he was she held him up and said, “Monkey!” Ah-Ha! A toy based on the Bible is teaching my daughter about evolution. That, Alanis Morissette, is sweet, sweet irony.

She’s also a huge fan of number books, particularly ones that ask, “How many [object X] do you see?” Last night we were reading one of these books, and she pointed out that there was one bunny, two ducks, and three bears. I told her those were not bears, they were mice made to look much larger than they are in reality. She said blankly, “Bears.” I corrected her again and told her no, those were definitely mice, although I could see how she could think otherwise. She said, “Okay. Bears and mice.” Thank you, international diplomat.

Numbers are now her passion, and she spends most of her day counting everything — the number of shoes in the room, the toes on her feet, the steps leading up to the house. During mealtime she will count the number of items on her plate — four pieces of chicken that she won’t eat, five peanut butter crackers that she will not touch. On the rare occasion that she does complete a meal, we will sprinkle a few M&M’s on her tray, usually four, and ask her to count them. Last night she pointed to each one and counted slowly, “One! … Two! … Three! … Four!” And then she moved her finger back to the first one, closed her eyes and kept going, “Five! … Six! … Seven! … Eight!” She was willing them with the power of her brain to multiply.

One of her favorite games to play now involves counting, and out of nowhere she’ll yell out a number and wait for one of us to yell out the next number in sequence. She would continue doing this for eternity if she could count that high, and also if she didn’t take the numbers so personally. Numbers 1 through 10 are all her own, her good friends, solid numbers she can trust. 11 through 20 make her absolutely giddy and breathless as if they are sharing their Twizzlers with her. But something happened between her and the numbers 21 through 30, something devastating and unforgivable, she doesn’t like to talk about it. 30 through 40 are dead to her, don’t even bring those up. And 40 through 50 are in grave danger, and it is her duty to warn them. The kid won’t ever make it to 100 because the emotional exhaustion will kill her first.

Flash video
Quicktime movie

  • Pnutsugar

    It doesn’t look like a thong…unless there’a a battery pack attached (which I’m sure there is such a thing out there…somewhere!)

    Looks like the electric “correction” (eh-hmm) collar the hubby bought for our totally rambunctious Lab pup, which could account for how well Leta recites those numbers 😉

    She’s very cute and smart…and her mother’s writings have made me chuckle and smirk (smirking a lot!) quite often since I tripped over her blog.

  • Jem

    I love the your daughter says ‘fwee’, like my niece.

  • Jem

    ‘the’? Of course I meant ‘that’.

    It seems the preview button is dead to me.

  • Beachgal

    That is so awesome…i’m lucky my kid makes it to TEN and he’s older. i have so much work to do. Way to go Leta!

  • She is absolutely positively adorable. Can you please clone her for me? I want one of those!

  • I made the mistake of letting my daughter who is the same age as Leta watch that video. She has now made me watch it atleast 20 times and now she does all the arm motions and numbers almong with her. She keeps grabbing the mouse now as I am typing saying “baby count…BABY COUNT!!!!!!!!!!! So here we are off to watch it again. I will remember this next time.

  • I know every parent thinks her child is the smartest, cutest etc., but you’re justified.

  • The real value of a degree in philosophy: I’ll never use any of those numbers again. I’ve forgotten most of them already.

    You should sell a video of Leta counting and saying her letters. I’ll bet she could help younger kids learn.

  • adfmay

    just wanted to say that i love how you ‘schooled’ alanis on what irony actually means. that song bugs me to no end.

  • Ohhh! That made me giggle! She’s way too cute.

  • Your baby is too smart 😀 And so SO cute.

  • hahaha too cute!!

  • Video evidence of Sesame Street paying off in a BIG way!

    I love how her voice raises in pitch as she recites numbers 40 – 50…the anticipation!!

    Tell her to get more excited when she says, “Twenty-one.” She seemed dejected – gotta nurture her inner blackjack player.

  • I was impressed that my own daughter could count to 20 at that age. And Leta can get to FIFTY!! She is such a little smartie. And in that very last few frames, she looks JUST. LIKE. JON.

  • I never knew the emotional ramifactions of counting.

  • ieatcrayonz

    Is that normal because my daughter can barely count to ten and she always skips number four. She’s twenty-two.

  • She can count to 50??????? I’m shocked and amazed. Whoa.

  • My 2 year old can’t count in English but she does okay in Spanish (that Dora, she’s quite the little teacher, eh?).

    My four year old is smarter than ALL her peers. Yes, it’s true. She can count the highest of them all. I’m not kidding you at all. She’ll plow right through all those numbers right on up to eleventy-twelve. I’m guessing most of you reading this don’t even know how to count up to eleventy-twelve. It’s not easy, I can tell you that. She struggles and has to find a new route to it every single time. Flippin’ GENIUS, she is.

  • Catherine

    Not only is she brilliant but her cuteness has struck me dumb. I know you will understand and not take any offense when I say that we must eat her.

  • Better still, tell her the guy with the beard is “Mr. Darwin” and the boat is named “The Beagle”.

  • Damn, that girl can COUNT!

  • I always thought eleventeen sounded like it had to exist somewhere….right next to eleventytwelve, huh? love it!

  • Heidi

    Wow! Leta is one smart cookie! Love the potty in the background. The potty acts like a piece of furniture here too.

  • Emily

    I think I just ovulated.

    She is too cute.

  • Damn, that’s a pretty smart kiddo. Y’all lookin’ to sell her? She could proly fetch a pretty penny from the Mensa crowd.

  • This is really strange, my oldest daughter Ava who is 2 1/2 does the same thing with counting!
    She counts everything, and will shout out numbers wanting us to start counting.
    I just thought it was her.

  • Okay, now that she’s got the counting thing down, surely she can fix her Mama a hot dog.

  • That is cute, but that is also dedicated parenting 🙂

  • Amy

    Hmmm – I’m pretty sure your daughter is not old enough to be able to do that. I’m serious. You better start reading up on raising a genius.

  • signot

    So cute! You know, if you watch it without sound, it looks like she’s telling someone off and enjoying it 😉

  • I’m already pregnant. How is it possible that seeing that LITTLE FACE with those EYELASHES makes want to get pregnant again?!

  • Mary Dawn

    i can’t even get my two year old to count to five!!!

    i’m so jealous…can leta be her tutor?

  • Wicked H

    Mensa called, they are waitng for Leta.

    So proud of the frog princess. Go Leta. GO!!!!

  • far and away the farthest

    Don’t you just love it. My grandson has this enormous alphabet book of foods which he lovingly reads over and over. His pronunciation is strange as well. But my favorite thing right now is part of his singing repertoire. His folks call it his I’ve Been Working on the Railroad /Old McDonald Medley… the important section is Fee, fie, fiddly IEIEIO.

  • wrensuicide

    I am also curious about what Leta is holding. But it looks like a dog collar or a belt to me, not a thong.

  • Nice job giving your child an interest in learning stuff.
    Now no one can question you as parents. The cookies at breakfast HELP HER LEARN. Hehe…

  • ColleenS

    Cute! And smart too!

    Has Leta gotten her hair cut?

    As for what she’s holding, I say maybe some kind of exercise heart rate monitor?

  • Pascha

    How in the hell doy you resist the urge to slather her in barbecue sauce and swallow her whole? My god…

    …or is that just me? I admit, I want to eat your baby right up.

    When my niece was that age, she could count to 100, but she hated doing it…so we started bribing her. We would give her one penny for every number she counted. The goal was to give her $1 for counting to 100. Whenever she did it, she was so excited that we HAD to go to the store right then. She would proudly announce to the cashier that she was buying candy because she counted to 100 and got $1 for it. She was so damn cute about it that they would almost always give her candy for free and tell her to save her $1 to buy toys.

    I swear, that grin she would get could bring world peace.

  • Zazzy

    She is way, way too cute.

  • Nat W.

    Why do you insist on doing this to my uterus??

  • butterfrei

    erm, so random, but have to say that,

    Leta’s arm swing reminded me of a dedicated maoist youth indocrinating newly relocated farm-slaves/old peasants on the benefits of collective, strong numbers…know your numbers!

    and maybe you will have some m&ms…or feel the lash of this old belt I’m innocently twirling.

    yeah, sorry…strange, i know

  • The audio on that movie made my 19-month-old, who was screaming out the window to our dog in the yard, stop dead in her tracks. Then she laid down a little “sis, sesen, et!” She’s a got a long way to go to catch up with Leta. Brilliant!

  • haha…too funny and too cute! i love how her tone changes with each set of numbers.

  • ho.ly.shit.
    amazing on so many levels!!

  • Bird Lover

    Nothing profound to add to the post. Just wanted to say “Oh, my godness.” The cuteness makes me smile.

  • I have been trying to use telekinesis to make M&M’s multiply for years now without success. Have Leta get back to me when she unlocks the secret.

  • Fog Spinner

    My son had no 17-19 until half way through kindergarden. It was like they didn’t exsist. You could point them out to him and he would flat deny their exsistance. I told him once…. yeah you think this now.. wait till your 16.

  • I love the way she says ELEVEN!!!! way too cute!

    She looks really upset when she was in the late 20s… but still so genuis-like!

  • OneBabyMama

    I finally registered with typekey. I can’t NOT comment anymore!
    She is such a treasure, Heather. And damn dude, she blows my little one away with the numbers! He counts to ten…if we’re lucky. Haha.
    But he can sing pretty much every song we play for him…ON KEY. I’ll take what I can get!
    Anyway, yeah. I’ve been reading for a while now. You freakin’ RULE.

  • What do mangaroos taste like? I really, really want one.