All moms think their child is a genius from the moment their baby blows the perfect spit bubble. From that point, each milestone reached before the indicated textbook time only confirms every mother’s opinion that she is raising a future Mensa member. Of course, since only 2% of the population is considered geniuses, most of us are just raising run of the mill, garden-variety kids with average intelligence regardless of when they rolled over.
I confess that I too fell victim to believing my neonate possessed superior intelligence after watching him intensely study, not bat at, his crib mobile. I didn’t jump to the conclusion that he was a genius, but I was convinced that he was smart, perhaps even exceptionally so.
I don’t consider myself highly intelligent, but I also don’t think that I’m a dolt. I went to college. I have a Master’s degree. I even remember some bits of what I learned. I also never felt that my child intellectually surpassed me at ages 3, 4, 5 but at age eight? He hasn’t just caught up; he may have lapped me.
Just as we moms have had that moment when we believed our offspring is brilliant, we have also had that moment when we believed we are stupid. I don’t write this to humble brag about my son’s abilities, instead I write this to pose the question: Is he really smart or am I not so smart?
I’ll be honest I have had the experience (many times) where I have felt simultaneously proud of my child’s abilities and disappointed in my own. Like the time we played a board game and I played to win only to lose…badly. My initial reaction was elation. He played well. He won. Pride. This emotion was followed by the shock, and perhaps a bit of humiliation, that a seven-year-old trounced me, easily.
As parents, we are the tour guides for our children. We not only show them the world. We explain it. This role becomes muddled, however, when our children take the mic and break it down for us. This happened recently when my son rattled off, in order, the presidents’ names. Impressed, I tried. I got three. He then spent the rest of the car ride trying to teach me the rest. Sadly, after 30 minutes of dogged memorization, I still only know three.
Then there is the math, ugh, the math. Not my best subject. It’s my husband’s forte so I have allowed or rather depended on him to calculate all things numbers in our lives. This worked well until my son started adding faster in his head then I can on my fingers.
Daily, I am made aware of all that I don’t know with each of his informative facts about everything from animals to presidents. I am also made aware of what I can’t do as I watch him easily, and quickly, mentally calculate and decipher information.
So, what does this mean? It means that maybe he’s learning and retaining what I long ago forgot. Or perhaps it means he’s smarter. And if he is, what does that mean?
It means that I’m proud of him even if my ego does get a bruise here or there. It also means that I’m going to do everything I can to develop his talents even if means admitting my lack there of.
Between us moms, it also means that I am going to make Google my best, albeit secretive friend. I am going to learn to count faster on my fingers. And, finally, I am going to become adapt at asking my son questions to which I don’t know the answers under the skillful guise of a teaching moment.