the smell of my desperation has become a stench

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

  • Erin Fritz

    2006/06/30 at 5:06 pm

    My first thought was “is that a THONG she’s holding”. But upon further examination, I’ve decided that, yes. It is a battery-packed thong.

    Playing with a battery-packed thong AND counting. Way to go, Leta! You’re WAY more mature than you should be!

  • lizzybored'n

    2006/06/30 at 5:34 pm

    Oh so cute! My 2 year old daughter saw me watching it, and burst out laughing. Then she kept repeating (like a savant) BABY MORE! BABY MORE! I must have played that video clip 25 times just to keep her entertained. Later, during a tantrum melt down getting her out of the carseat, I said “wanna see baby more?” And she declared “Yaaaaaahh!” Thanks Dooce for making my day just a teeny bit easier! PS. I’m the gal you met in Liberty Park at the fountains the other day.

  • Heidi Nelle

    2006/06/30 at 6:43 pm

    Ooh, she’s adorable! And that’s saying something, cause I usually don’t like children 😛

  • vicki

    2006/06/30 at 6:55 pm

    oh why did you do that? All of my childrens toddler years came rushing back at me like a nightmare that I can not get rid of…Groundhogs day revisited.

    ABCD,JK,NM,VP,LKJM,1234,9786, and so on it went on for days, weeks, months and now one is in the gifted program and the other still won’t shut up.

    Drugs must have drugs….

    Thanks for the memories….

  • Missy

    2006/06/30 at 7:47 pm

    Very, very cute. She is really advanced for her age, I think…my little boy didn’t count that high until he was 3 1/2 or so. Sweet girl, Dooce!

  • Kissyface

    2006/06/30 at 8:03 pm

    at some point, you should get her those I Spy books.

  • SMKN70

    2006/06/30 at 8:25 pm

    Very good, Leta!

    As a mom of three, I can tell you with authority that she’s counting great for her age 🙂

  • ikkepagrasset

    2006/06/30 at 11:29 pm

    I just watched the video, and from the other room my dad yelled, “Is that Leta counting?” It’s weird, because my dad is practically deaf and I wasn’t aware that he read your site. I guess it runs in the family.

  • Ktkat

    2006/07/01 at 6:38 am

    I ADORE how she says fifty… FIH-YI! As if she is so relieved to reach that pinnacle!

    The cuteness factor is off the charts!

  • thleen

    2006/07/01 at 9:55 am

    It is so cool that she called Noah a monkey.

  • Ramona

    2006/07/01 at 10:23 am

    She should totally be given a bullhorn during the New Year’s Eve countdown.

  • PrincessMo

    2006/07/01 at 11:44 am

    I’m sure she can get through the devistation obviously wrought by 20-30, but she may need long-term counseling for 30-40.

    Also, for the first few frames of this clip, it looks for all the world like she is swinging around a thong while counting. I’m just sayin. ;-P

  • The Barb

    2006/07/01 at 1:20 pm

    Just “Ah!” Takes my breath away.

  • Wendell77

    2006/07/01 at 1:33 pm

    I don’t know, it sounds like Leta has a Brooklyn accent! Super cute.

  • Flubberwinkle

    2006/07/01 at 1:46 pm

    I love how her little voice escalates as the numbers rise, creating a sense of suspense!

  • Alexandrialeigh

    2006/07/01 at 4:05 pm

    I love how she says: FIFTY!

    So cute. She can come count my gray hairs any day. Hopefully she won’t get past ten.

  • elsa marie

    2006/07/01 at 4:54 pm

    As a mother I can see right through the humor in your posts. You love that child more than life itself. Me-I’m not so transparent. Both of my kids blew their noses on my t-shirt today.
    Oh, and I think you’re the funniest woman alive. No pressure or anything. 😉

  • Cindi in Illinois

    2006/07/01 at 5:14 pm

    She is doing great! Gotta admit that as soon as the clip began, I thought she was holding a black thong. Like another commenter said, upon a second look it looks like a thong with a battery pack.

    Re. counting…I have discovered that every time you put up one of these adoreable Leta clips I find myself going to your comment section and counting how many cases of spontaneous ovary combustion I will surely find!

    Leta is really going to wow her teachers when she starts school…that’s for sure! Mommy and Daddy you are doing a great job with your cutie-pie.

  • Elizabeth

    2006/07/01 at 5:24 pm

    OMG. That is the freaking cutest video EVER!! What a precocious cutie!

  • Aimee

    2006/07/01 at 7:53 pm

    I’ve always thought that 48 should come twice. It’s such a good, solid, even number.

  • Carol

    2006/07/01 at 8:23 pm

    OK, first, she’s freaking adorable. And second, I have a daughter (my 3rd child, mind you) who I think is really smart and ahead of the game but she is no where near Leta developmentally. And third, I have a 6 year old who just completed Kindy and he only recently figured out how to count past 30.

    You are doing a great job, Heather! Keep it up!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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