The Nugget Chronicles: Toddler Positioning System

If you don’t spend a lot of time around small children, you may not realize that they actually can have a pretty impeccable sense of direction. Sure, it doesn’t look that way, given that they’re still gaining full coordination of their limbs, and they all too often look like tiny drunks, meandering in and out of whatever crowd happens to be directly in front of them, but they do ultimately seem to have an uncanny knowledge about where they’re headed, if left somewhat to their own devices. True, you’ll still want to stay close, because you want to keep them safe, especially when they’re in full toddler sprint, but letting them forge the path ahead has a good chance of delivering them to where they want to go.

Case in point? Today, I took Nugget to the zoo. Not the zoo that we’ve gone to a fairly large number of times, and where she has probably memorized the interior layout, due to the sheer amount of bitter cold we get in our part of the country during the winter months. No, instead we went to the other zoo in town. If my math is correct, this marks the third time that Nugget has been to this particular zoo, so she clearly shouldn’t know where anything is.

Anyway, we get to the main gate, meet up with friends, and eventually make our way into the zoo proper. At this point, Nugget declares that she wants to see the fishies, so I figure, “Why not?”. After all, she loves seeing fish, and it’s always one of her favorite points about the other zoo. The only problem, as I see it, is that I’m not entirely sure where the fish are located at this particular zoo, because, again, we haven’t been there very often. The worst thing that can happen is that Nugget’s eventual visit with the fish will simply be postponed by seeing other animals along the way. She wanted to stretch her legs and walk, so I was willing to just keep pace with her, and sort of let her be the guide.

In a complete surprise to me, Nugget proceeded to lead us pretty much directly to the building with the fish. Yes, she stopped a few times along the way to investigate a very interesting leaf that she saw, but otherwise, she didn’t waver in her voyage. There weren’t any real strides towards other buildings, or along paths that didn’t lead to the fish. She simply put her head down, decided that she was going to find the fish, and then did exactly that.

Oh, yeah, and then she did it again when headed to the primate enclosure, because she wanted to see the monkeys.

Basically, somewhere along the lines, my daughter got fitted with some sort of GPS chip, and I wasn’t made aware of it. At least she’s announcing where she wants to go before taking off in that general direction with a great sense of purpose.

Actually, maybe that’s how you activate it, and, as adults, we’ve just forgotten all about that trick? I encourage everyone to try. Just loudly proclaim your destination, and then set out. See where it takes you.

Oh, and probably start with something fairly basic, like “grocery store”. You need to build up your tolerance before you start saying “strip club”.


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