Babies are smarter than we realize

October 27, 2019


Would you trust this face?

Don’t let babies fool you. Even before they can speak real words, they’re little geniuses who are capable of sending us to prison with their expert testimonies.

Turning a sharp left into my garage, maybe a little too fast — maybe not, I hit my front right bumper on the door frame. My prophet-know-it-all husband had predicted I would someday do this since I liked to swing the car in a little “too fast.” He was just jealous I was a better driver. 

With tiny leanings for the dramatic, I squealed and said something along the lines of, “Oh, gracious, this is terrible!” “Who moved the garage door?”

I unstrapped my son from his car seat and stood him on the step going into the kitchen, then ran inside and got a wet towel. I leaped over the adorable boy, who remained frozen and watched with big eyes as I fussed and fumed, and danced around and rubbed the scratch with all my might, until finally, “Thank you God!” What I thought was a deep gash, proved to be only a smudge, and with great buffing effort, disappeared completely. Bob would never know, and all was well in the world. 

Little Harrison took his afternoon nap, which to this day remains one of his great talents, and I went about my tasks. When my babe awoke, he played with pots and pans on the floor while I started dinner. Bob came home and said, “there’s my boy!” and scooped the little chunk up in his arms. 

Harrison squirmed to get down and began making caveman/baby-talk while grabbing his Daddy’s hand and pulling. Bob asked, “Do you want me to go somewhere with you?” “Uh-huh.” Wobbling back and forth and tugging Bob towards the garage, Bob finally got the message to open the door. Still too small to go down the step without first leaning over to hold the ground with his hands, Harrison finally made his way to the car where he patted the front bumper with one hand and with the other, pointed his chubby finger at me, and with toddler indignation and the force of a midget Perry Mason, said, “Mama!” 

Explaining to Grandad how to fix the train before he could yet talk.

“What’s this? Did mommy hit the car on the garage door?” Shaking his red head, my baby proudly smiled and confirmed, “Uh-huh!” 

That little snitch! Bob was dying laughing and Harrison was very proud of himself. I told that kid I would get him back someday, even if it took years. And guess what? When he was 16 years old and backed his truck into a brick wall, I reminded him of what he had done years before, as I skipped inside to tell his father.  

Babies are far more capable of understanding and learning than we realize. This is why we need to remember to provide quality experiences of play and language development even before they are able to fully communicate with us. 

Good music, good conversation, and no blinky-stinky TV or computer screens — especially during meals. These little people are on to us. They are watching and they are learning, and I was taught, they also love cars and are very loyal to their daddies. 

This story first appeared on

  • Patience brings rewards 🙂 Just wait until he has kids, then you can really laugh!!

  • I still remember one evening at the supper table back in the early 70s at my grandmother’s home–one cousin’s sweet little two year old daughter let loose with some very flowery words; talk about some burning ears!

    • Always a good family story when the potty-mouth two year old shows up!

  • What an adorable little snitch…Just wait until you can share that story with grandchildren! Please, please keep preaching the “put down the electronics” message. Can families no longer eat in a restaurant, attend church, etc without handing an iPad to the kids to keep them occupied? It’s sad because I remember how fun it was as child to go out to dinner with my parents, and they would have real conversations with us. Of course, sometimes our little ears heard adult gossip we were not supposed to repeat too…but sometimes did!

  • Oh, Lord. I have been there, but it was not so funny. The kid did not realize his cute innocent toddlerness would cause me to get the hell beaten out of me, yet again. True, the little ones absord so much more than we realize, and that it can be a two-edged sword. I am glad that in your case it was an amusing anecdote, but that is not always the case.

    • Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry to hear this, but what a story! I happen to know what a strong woman you are now, so I hope that strength carried you through this bad situation. But yes . . . once again, they understand it all. Good and bad, Sweet and nasty, they know, so we must always be careful. Glad you are a survivor and your son is now amazing – and totally loyal to you!

  • Oh I am enjoying this so much. What an adorable little snitch, your words not mine! I totally agree, those little tots don’t miss a thing and heaven help you should say something you don’t want repeated. If they hear it they’ll speak it. I know Bob couldn’t have been to upset because the snitch was just to cute!
    Take care missy…………

    • Thanks Emily. Bob was so proud that his boy stood with him and ratted me out that all was forgiven. You know, with your first child, they can do no wrong, so we got a good laugh!

  • I expect that he was too young for bribery to work. My children preferred a larger audience than just their father. Usually, their statements were at the dinner table surrounded by all of their elderly relatives. I still remember the shocked faces. My youngest had a speech impediment and I was a terrible mother who quite often found myself grateful for it. It allowed me the freedom to translate his words into something more acceptable. That is, if I could keep his older siblings quiet. It is strange that I could be so embarrassed as a parent but found the words of my grandchildren “charming.”

    • You’ve hit it square on the head. In front of others – that’s a good story I’ll have to write someday, but I’ll have to think of a nicer way to say what my young son said to two elderly ladies at church. Your poor relatives! How funny!

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