Thursday, July 19, 2007

my nephew the mathematician

Imagine my amazement: as my Carl was dropping crabapples into his water table today, I counted "un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq" and paused while he scampered off to fetch a sixth one. Before I could say "six," he threw it into the water and said something that sounded an awful lot like "seese," the French pronunciation of the number. But I shook it off as an overeager auntie who reads too much into a toddler's utterances--I mean, he's never said any of the numbers in French before, and can only consistently count to two in English!

Then Carl started removing the apples from the water. I counted "un," and as I paused for him to retrieve the second one, he grabbed it and said, clearly, "deux." I gaped in astonishment as he continued to count to six and drop the apples on the ground. "Bravo, bravo!" I cried out, clapping, as he looked at me like I was overreacting, as if he'd known all along that he could count in a language he hears only once a week.

When all six apples were on the ground, he picked them up one by one and placed them back into the water, counting aloud again in French. He stopped at six, even when I added a seventh apple and called it "sept." Later on, while having his afternoon snack, he smiled as I counted his grapes and encouraged him to say the numbers, but he was perfectly content just to listen and eat and ask for more ("encore!") until we ran out of grapes. "Zéro!" I cried out, and "zéro!" he repeated happily as he stuck his fingers in my hummus, licked it off, and asked for "encore." Since you can't really count hummus, I gave up on the math lesson, but I couldn't wait to tell everyone about it on my blog!


  1. What a fabulous blog. I especially enjoyed the last paragraph -- zero! and fingers-in-the-hummus...

    Anyway, I have always thought Carlitot was prodigiously verbal... and he does have a fantastic French teacher. ;)

    Don't hold your breath for him to repeat the feat right away, though. Lil'uns are funny that way.

  2. Well done, Sarah!! It gave me goose bumps reading your entry ... it's such a wonderful moment to hear a toddler talks!

  3. Thank you both!

    On July 26, Carl counted to 10 with my help: I'd say one number, and he's say the the one that follows.