Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Bragging rights

As I've mentioned many times in the past, I grew up in a happy home. Accomplishments were lauded. Sunshine was blown up butts. My parents praised us and encouraged us and bragged on us. As in Lake Wobegon, we were all above-average.

This applies exponentially, of course, to the grandchildren.

Whatever my children do, it is a sign that they are geniuses, according to my parents. Last year when Zeke started counting and knew his alphabet and was figuring out various animal noises? Genius. Josie sitting up and rolling over? Genius.

For some reason, I find it so charming and endearing that my parents react this way, yet I can't quite embrace that attitude myself. Like it's bad form to talk too much about how smart your kids are. Plus as a special education lawyer, I'm so aware of the various disabilities that could befall children, so there's a superstitious part of me that doesn't want to go on and on about how super-smart and accomplished my children will be, because it's like tempting fate.

So one day when my parents were going on and on about how smart Zeke was, I remarked that he is undoubtedly intelligent, but probably not a genius, because so few people truly are, and that he most likely falls in the "high average" range.

I will never, ever live this down. My mother laughed uproariously at me. My father exclaimed, "High average? Did she say my grandson is high average?? He's brilliant! 'High average' -- pffft. Ridiculous!"

Zeke does have advanced verbal skills for his age -- he speaks very clearly, in complete, mostly grammatically correct sentences, with a huge vocabulary. And he knows and can recognize his letters, and knows which words start with which letters. He can count with one-to-one correspondence, and is learning the concept of very simple addition. So I have to admit that, by all appearances, he is a smart little cookie. But still, there's such a broad developmental range of skill acquisition in children, i.e., one kid could be counting at 2 and another at 3 1/2, and it's still all within the normal range.

Now when I talk on the phone with my mom or dad, they'll ask what the kids are up to, and what new things they are doing. And I'll tell them about the newest funny thing that Zeke said or did, and they'll snort at me and say, "high average, huh?" Then they'll crack up, laughing at me. This happens multiple times a week.

Josie has started chatting up a storm lately. She is particularly fond of the "ba-ba" and "da-da" syllables. And she does seem to say "da-da-da-da" over and over when she sees Jason.

I was telling this to my mom, and she said, "she says 'da-da' when she sees her daddy?? Wendy, that's very advanced."

"Yeah, it's pretty cute. But I don't know if she's really saying 'da-da' or if she's just repeating the syllable that is so predominant in her repertoire these days. Plus, she is 8 months old. It's not unusual for kids to be chattering at this age. Zeke certainly did."

"Well, I think she's obviously very smart."

"I guess."

I could hear her chuckling to herself. I knew what was coming.

"High average, right?"



  1. Maybe it's humility on your part? I tend to think grandparents sound super-doting and adorable and charming when they go on about how brilliant and amazing their grandkids are, while parents are more likely to sound like assholes.

  2. I agree. It's nice for parents to speak with pride about their kids, of course, but there is such a thing as taking it too far. And I guess I'd rather err on the side of being all "aw shucks" than blathering on like a shmuck while everyone around me rolls their eyes.