This was something I wrote a couple years back for a different (now dead) blog I tried. It still applies to my family today.
Boo asked that not too long ago. And, you know, it was a cute question I was getting ready to enjoy. But Roo, the literal older brother said, “Tuesday is not a color.” He said it with so much authority that of course Boo just said, “Oh.” That sad little “Oh.” that people say when they get the wind knocked out of their sails.
Now Roo got a healthy dose of tolerance when it came to his wild and childish ideas and inventions during his wee years, so I don’t know why he doesn’t want to extend that grace to his younger brother very often. Could be that first child syndrome. Could be he takes after his legalistic mother who had to work very hard to say, “Wow! Look at the purple trees. Of course your trees can be purple. They can be any color you want.” So I was quick to come to Boo’s rescue and say, “Well, gee, maybe Tuesday can have a color. What color do you think Tuesday is?”
I have found out that Boo associates senses with objects and facts in a way that I don’t and it only shows me that he is a creative child whose drummer is totally out of step with mine. He challenges me to think differently. He doesn’t think outside the box, he doesn’t come from a different planet, he thinks in a whole ‘nother space time continuum.
Chris Rice is a popular Christian musician/singer/composer. He sings the song Smell the Color 9. Somewhere toward the end of the lyrics it asks how can you smell a color, and by the way, nine isn’t a color… The first time Roo heard this song he was frustrated all the way through. “Mom!!!! Nine is not a color. You can’t smell colors!!!” He said this repeatedly with increasing frustration until the end of the song where the lyrics say “Nine’s not a color...and even if it was you can’t smell a color, no…That’s my point exactly!” “Mom!!! I don’t get it!!!”
Now Chris Rice is talking about understanding God. Something we all deal with in our own way. But he really thinks and writes so uniquely. This got me wondering…Do other people besides this singer and my son live their lives in this way. Apparently so.
Synesthesia. Joined senses.
syn-es-the-sia also syn-aes-the-sia n. 1) A condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color. 2) A sensation felt in one part of the body as a result of stimulus applied to another, as in referred pain. 3) The description of one kind of sense impression by using words that normally describe another.
I was surprised to learn this is a real condition (I know probably everyone else knows about it, but it was news to me!). It involves assigning one or more of the senses to numbers, letters, days of the week, shapes, sounds—the list goes on. I don’t know if Chris Rice has this, if he does, that’s cool. But what is most important to me is that from something he wrote and then something my child said, something clicked in me and made me dig a little deeper and find a facet of my ds that I didn’t know about.
I think this might be just as important for me to know about him as what “type” of learner he is, whether or not he is a morning or night person—all of those things that make our children unique. Those things we try to know to have a way to custom tailor their education to them. What am I doing with this information? I guess not a whole lot now, but every now and then when I get particularly frustrated with Boo’s gaze into another world while we are supposed to be doing something, hopefully I will check myself. When he says something somewhat off the wall hopefully I will remember not to doubt him, laugh at him or correct him to my vision, but support him. The boys have proven more than once they notice things I don’t. They are still fresh and don’t tune out all the cool stuff in the back yard. They see fun stuff when we drive and all I see is the traffic to get through. They see each day as a new frontier when I see a to do list.
From what little I have learned it is not really that unusual in children. But they can over time unlearn it or perhaps they just learn to not share it or ignore it. I truly hope that Boo continues to experience things with as many senses as possible. I would hate to see this gift wasted. I would really hate to be the cause of this gift wasted.
Postscript: Several months after I wrote this, I shared the thought with my husband. Never assume you know everything about your spouse. He looked at me and said, "Well, yeah...I've always thought that way too." Oh. See how little I know. This has become somewhat of a "game" for my family when we are driving. Roo and I have to work at it. My husband and Boo don't even pause at the questions.
Interestingly, I found this little quiz a few days back and that is what reminded me of this post. Just for fun:
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