Your child can be a genius.
Strike that. Could be a genius. As in, it is entirely possible that through some miraculous set of circumstances you have a child that processes, retains, and recalls information much faster than an ordinary child. Your child could be a genius but, most likely, is not.
My dog is not a genius. She sniffed around the kitchen floor for a good fifteen minutes looking for an elusive piece of soft dog food. She could smell it but couldn’t figure out where it was located.
Maybe my children could do better. I briefly held such a hope. I remember thinking, “Maybe one of these kids will be a mental mega-star and lead the family to riches.” Then they learned to walk (roughly) and talk (sort of) and my thoughts have shifted to, “Man, I hope they can fill out their own applications at McDonald’s.” Not that McDonald’s is a bad job or that people who work there aren’t intelligent but let’s be honest, it isn’t the first career on a parent’s wish list.
My kids are all at normal intelligence from what I can tell. There are flashes of brilliance and depths of unrealized potential. There are also moments where all I can do is stare at them. Speechless. Searching for the universe where – the words they uttered or the actions they took – make sense.
How about a few examples?
Prima is my drifter. She gets lost in glassy-eyed thought while spinning in circles and staring at the television. On our snow day a few weeks ago she insisted on getting herself dressed to go play in the snow. She came to me in the living room with her layered shirt, overalls, jacket, and knit cap.
“I’m ready to go outside!” she declared with excitement.
“Are you sure?”
“Oh yes, I have my coat and everything!”
“I think you are missing something.” I prodded after I noticed a very key piece of clothing was missing from her winter ensemble.
“Nope. Im ready.”
“Okay.” I said and opened the door into the snow.
She ran forward and her bare feet sank ankle deep in the icy whiteness. She stood there for a second and even reached down to touch her bare feet with equally bare hands. “Uummm. Daddy… I need some shoes.”
“I thought you might.”
A couple of nights ago Prima had some more quotable moments. Again I blame her fickle attention span. Jane was looking through some books for the bedtime story for the night and she mentioned gnomes.
Prima said, “Gnomes are creepy.”
I replied, “Did you know that Gnome is the name of a town in Alaska?”
She looks at me with her head tilted sideways like a confused puppy, “We live in Alaska?”
I turn my attention to the search for something to read. Jane finally finds a book on dinosaurs and we all sit in the floor. Prima is twirling her hair while looking at the book in a daze. She stares past the turning pages without flinching and I just tell myself that she is like a laptop that is in sleep mode. As long as I don’t punch a button or move her mouse she will twirl her hair like a screen saver.
The book has lots of neat dinosaurs. I try to read out the syllables of the names and get the girls to say them with me, “Pterodactyl, Ter-OH-dak-till”
Prima blurts out, “I’m allergic to those!”
“I doubt that.”
“Yes I Am!” Both eyes stare at me with an intensity of a death row inmate pleading for someone to believe their story.
I try and give an honest answer to why it can’t be true, “You have to be exposed to be allergic which I think would make you nearly immortal because they have been dead millions of years.”
“Well, I don’t like birds”, she says as she shifts her gaze to her own wiggling toes.
I finished the story. I may have been more entertained than my audience.
Life is funny. We do things like read bedtime stories in an effort to enhance our children. To give them an edge. To make them smart. We want to teach them about the world and endless possibilities of imagination. We hope they are inspired to read and learn. Then, in the midst of it all, they do exactly that service for us, the parents.
So, if you try to be a teacher and end up a student – this post is for you. Reading to your kids is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You’re welcome.
-Underdaddy to the rescue.