Tuesday, August 25, 2009

colors and numbers

I do not understand Martin's brain. Case in point. Martin's favorite book right now is called "Emily's First 100 Days of School." It tells of a rabbit in her first four months of kindergarten. There is a little vignette for each of the 100 days. Not only does Martin have the entire book memorized, but he also knows what color the numbers are. Yesterday and today, he has spent time making little cut-outs of the numbers. He is very specific about which color he should use for each number. When we open the book, we see that he has chosen the right one.

I'm not sure if he is synesthetic, or a person who has one sort of sensory experience which automatically triggers another sort of sensory experience. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia) If so, he would have grapheme-color synesthesia, where a person associates numbers with colors. People whose brains work in this way see entire equations in color. It's kind of psychedelic.

This weirds me out because I have a very basic brain. I'm a smart person, but I wouldn't characterize myself as any kind of genius. I have stuff in my brain because I put it there. And when I need that stuff, I have to work to get it out. Martin's brain has a number of facilities that seem practically automatic. He memorizes massive amounts of material with no effort. He has relative pitch (a close cousin of perfect pitch). He figured out how to read without anyone actually teaching him.

I wonder what kind of person Martin will become as he figures out that he has these facilities and others do not. Will he be impatient with those of us who can't do math in our heads? Will he think the rest of us are stupid? Or will he want to be something called normal, not gifted with mental facility but blessed instead with the ability to hold a 5-minute conversation?


  1. Jen,

    You may not have colors & numbers synched up on command, but you are indeed a genius in many ways.


  2. I agree with Vicki that you are a genius in your ways as well.

  3. "I have a very basic brain."

    Yes, and... Yao Ming has a very basic pituitary gland. Jay Leno has a very basic chin. Julia Roberts has a very basic smile.

  4. Jen,
    I'm just now tuning in to your blog and having read a few entries feel honored to be privy to your reflections. That sounds trite but I know that for me parenting is such a mind-stretching, all-consuming endeavor that I often can't even intelligently comment on its nuances. Your writing is filled with grace, honesty, smarts, and so much love. Martin is lucky to have the mom and dad that he does. As, of course, you're lucky to have been chosen by him. Congrats on Sasha, as well! It would be fun to see you all again sometime.
    Love, Janelle T.