Tuesday, September 27, 2011


So, my sister Jenni and I were having a conversation the other day that got a little out of hand.

Sometimes we pretend to be people we're not, okay? Is that so weird? Is that so incredibly weird that you're weirded out right now by the weirdness? Well, then apparently we can't be friends. Because it happens, and I am not ashamed.

Okay, so it's not so much that we pretend we're people we're not. We just enact conversations that would never, ever happen in real life to mimic what we see around us.

On the day in question, we were being child-braggers.

You have heard these people. They honestly, seriously believe that their child is gifted, and they aren't afraid to talk about it, and their child, bless its little heart, is exactly like every other child in his or her age group.* I don't mean to make fun of these people too much, because I can see how it happens. I mean, you knew your child back when she was basically just a lump of flesh in a car-seat doing nothing but excreting out of every orifice, and now, get this, she can count to 18 and she only misses 12 and 14, but the thing that makes it really special is that she is only two freaking years old. To watch someone go from doing nothing much more than pooping tar 8 times a day to constructing full on sentences is breathtaking. It's no wonder every parent thinks their child might be a genius every once in a while.

Well. Maybe not every parent.

Paris Hilton had ostrich babies. There's not a lot of hope for genius there.
(If you're baffled by this photo, that means you aren't crazy.)

Photo attribution: mediaspin.com

Anyway, it started off when I talked to her daughter, Alice, (who recently turned two) on the phone and she mentioned going to the park. She and I talked for a few minutes, then Jenni got back on the phone and said "Yeah, she's been really verbal lately..." Oh really, Jenni? Really verbal, huh? That sounds like a bit of a brag. Look what you just started.

Me: Oh, has she? Has she been really verbal? Like extra verbal? Like maybe more than other kids?

Jenni: (snooty voice) Well, you know, I don't mean to put anyone down or anything, but I don't hear a lot of kids her age talking quite as much as her. She's kind of like an adult in conversation, but so young! We feel so blessed that she's learning so quickly...

Me: Oh, how cute that you think she's so young for that! It reminds me of when Viva [who is now 3] was about six months younger than Alice and started speaking in full sentences... that's when we knew how special she is...

Jenni: I remember that! Alice was almost six months at the time and I remember her signing to me how impressed she was that Viva was talking so well. Alice was always really adept at signing, even before she finished nursing...

Me: Oh, Jenni, that's really fantastic that you feel so confident about her. Well, Alice is your first, so it might be hard to see that she's as average as she is without being able to compare her to Viva who was signing in complete paragraphs and had a 4,000 word signing vocabulary by the age of 3 months. But yeah, how special for you that Alice is being so verbal. You know, hearing about it brings back so many memories of when Viva was a year younger than Alice and she started making up elaborate bed-time stories in French... it was actually really challenging for us because we didn't know how to keep up with her active imagination! Nor do we speak French!

Jenni: Oh, yeah, that would be really, really hard. That and the colors thing...

Me: What colors thing?

Jenni: Oh... no.  I'm so sorry. You didn't know. (shakes head covering her mouth) It's noth...It's just that last time we were all together I performed a small evaluation and noticed some things about her color memorization, and I was... surprised and a little disappointed. It's actually really hard to talk about this when Alice knows her colors so well and has actually replicated several Renaissance frescoes! Ha, awkward...

Me: Oh, don't feel uncomfortable, it's totally fine that you think Alice is outstanding! I think that's really cute and kind of quaint actually. Come to think of it, Viva tells me that when she was training Alice on multiplication tables last Christmas, Alice did a really good job of pointing to the number "two" and kind of sounding out something that sounded like a word. Viva was so, so proud of her, and you should be too!

Jenni: It's really interesting to me that you bring that up because when Alice was whipping up a Master's Thesis on the merits and pitfalls of our current educational system last February she specifically cited Viva as being the type of math teacher that "doesn't get" her students....

Me: Oh, no. Another misunderstanding. (Sighs) Hate to be the bearer of bad news about how your child is a common criminal, but Viva is actually the one who wrote that report and had it published in Education Weekly and there was an incident... this is so hard to talk about! Basically, Alice plagiarized it and tried to claim it was hers...

Jenni: Oh, is that what Viva told you. That little trickster! Yeah, Alice pulled me aside during nap-time yesterday and explained that she was suspicious that this might happen. Later that day as Alice drove us to the city hall to secure a trademark for several memorable phrases in her paper, I couldn't help but but muse on how hard it might be as these girls get older to have Alice outshine her cousin so much. We've really got to make sure and work on Viva's self esteem!

Daddy, Alice is saying SHE solved the quadratic equation first, but she used the wrong variable!

By this point we were laughing too hard to continue.

In closing, a word of advice: next time you hear someone doing a bit of a brag, be bold! Don't sell your kid short. He probably will single-handedly cure AIDS and cancer and cankles some day so you might as well say he already has. Because as a parent, there's nothing I find more impressive than a laundry list of accomplishments performed by your toddler, and I'm sure you feel the same way about mine.

*For the record, my daughters actually are geniuses. Anna, for example, drew a picture of a rainbow yesterday that had eight different colors. So, yeah. Obviously there are exceptions, and I am one of them. (Side-note: I had to correct the spelling of the word "geniuses" three times before I realized that I had the i and the u switched. It felt awesome to not be able to spell "genius" without spell check.)


  1. That reminds me of my Christmas letter last year....I'll give you a little blurb of it, (it was in multiple choice format)

    a. Continues to make time for her charity work: this year she made flannel blankets for the pet shelter
    b. Has mastered French. She isn't interested in Spanish and the school doesn't offer Russian, so she's taking Mandarin Chinese
    c. Is working on solving P=NP, hoping to answer one of the 7 Millennium Prize Problems by the Clay Mathematics Institute this year.
    d. None of the above, she’s only two, can barely talk, and not even potty trained. (Give me a break, I’m employed full-time and a half and pregnant). But she’s a joy to have and we all love her. She loves to care for her baby dolls and change their diapers. She thinks Santa is called “ho ho ho” she’s a cutie.

  2. @Taren--THAT'S funny. I like it a lot. I especially like c. I might steal that idea some future Christmas.

  3. @Taren -- That's hilarious! I always make fun of the really braggy Christmas cards we receive.

  4. @Taren that is brilliant

    i think all children are amazing and wonderful but I must say i do believe i have the most perfect child ever born "wink"

  5. @Taren (again)--It's official. You have just proved that my readers are hilarious. If y'all aren't reading the comments 'round these parts, you should be. They make me laugh, OFTEN.

    @Glow--Yeah, child-bragging is at its finest at Christmas card time, for sure!

    @Rob or Marseille--;-)

    @becca--Well, you're probably right...

  6. Alice read this post and was mildly offended. I suggested she go work on the symphony she is composing to blow off some steam. Worked like a charm.

  7. Awesome. Just awesome. Hey The Weed - turns out you know my sis-in-law Karin. Her husband Jared is my little brother. I love how small a world the internet is. :)

  8. I know my kids ARE smarter than other kids. I made sure of that when I decided to raise them bilingually. :)

    I mean really...they are bilingual. Because I'm German. Although I'm sure they sound like idiot children to others when the speak English with German sentence structure.

    Oh well, we just try to be humble about our geniuses.

  9. @Jenni--That made me laugh. I <3 u.

    @Dirtius--Heck yeah I know Karin! She's one of my Kearns compadres! We go way, waaay back. I just saw her this summer actually at a family get-together thing. It really is a small world! (Nice to meet you btw)

    @Franziska Patterson--Bilingualism? Totally awesome. And I completely understand how hard it is to be humble when your child is a genius. It's such a burden... *Viva walks into the room chanting "one-three-five-six-one-three-five-six" then runs into the wall and starts crying* Yes. Yes. Such a huge burden.

  10. This is exactly why I love play groups- an open forum to brag and display our children! Oh... you weren't invited to our playgroup? It is for Gifties Only. But we have a Peer Mentor group where our children are available to help those less fortunate.

  11. My hypothetical kids are infinitely smarter than your kids. ;)

  12. Your posts about conversations you have with your sister are my favorite. You should write more of them. :)

  13. Lol. You guys rock! The best part....realizing I just spelled "genius" wrong on another one of your posts minutes ago!!! I even erased it a couple of times then settled on "genious". :)