Saturday, July 31, 2010

Super-smart kids and their proud mommies

Do you ever flinch when you read something like this in a blog post or message board?

"Timmy is just so bright I don't know what I'm going to do with him!"

"Sally Jean is so smart, she is begging me to teach her to read and she's only 3!"

"What suggestions do you have for math for a really advanced 4-year-old?"

These are paraphrases of comments I've read over my homeschooling years. And these comments do make me flinch. I wonder about the moms who write things like this. Are they just proud mommies writing from their hearts? Or do they have a need to make their own child's brilliance known to the world?

Everyone who reads mommy/homeschooling blogs and message boards likes reading about what other moms and homeschoolers are doing. Why else would we read? I love reading about peoples' plans and curriculum and accomplishments. I'm happy for someone whose kid wants to learn to read at age 3. I'm impressed by kids who are doing algebra in 3rd grade! Of course! It's obvious such kids are bright. Obvious. So why do their mommies need to point it out?

The child of one of my real life friends seems to me to be brilliant. The mom has never told me her child is bright. But as I see what this child does with music and math, and what she is reading, and how she plays chess, it's pretty obvious to me. I don't know if the mom blogs or posts on message boards, but if she does, I am pretty sure she does not make sure everyone knows how smart her kid is. She enjoys her child; I'm sure she is proud of her child's accomplishments. But she doesn't tell people the kid is smart; she doesn't need to. The accomplishments speak for themselves.

On the other hand, I remember a mostly-homeschooling woman I once met at a homeschool park day. One of her children did go to school. "He's just so smart," she told me. "I just can't do anything with him, he's brilliant and way above grade level in everything." I am not making this conversation up. Actually it wasn't really a conversation because I was speechless. What is the correct response? "Congratulations"? The worst part was, the child was right there. He heard his mom say this. What do you suppose was going through his mind? What do you think was going through the minds of his (obviously inferior) siblings who were not so bright?

Parents shouldn't hide their kids' successes. I think most people love to read about others' accomplishments. But we should focus on the accomplishments, not the child's brilliance. Because the brilliance will show without Mom making sure everyone can see it.


DADvocate said...

But we should focus on the accomplishments, not the child's brilliance.

Excellent point. There's plenty of brilliant people out there who don't accomplish squat. Probably because they've been told so many times that they're brilliant that they don't think they need to do anything.

That said, I think my kids are pretty brilliant, but I tell them this: You may be in the top 1% in intelligence which means out of 100 people the odds are you're the smartest or one of the two smartest people. But, in a small community where we live with 20,000 people that means there are 200 to 400 people as smart as you. In a larger city, with a million people, there's at least 10,000 people as smart as you. You have to work hard and actually do something with your intelligence to make a difference, get a good job, etc.

(I almost always get back to hard work in my little lessons.)

Marbel said...

DAD - I have similar conversations with my kids, mostly around their relative importance in the world: that they are extremely important to me, but not to most other people in the world.

My husband had a teacher who told him how brilliant he was and she about ruined him for hard work for a few years. He got over himself eventually.

It always comes down to hard work.

Annie Kate said...

Brilliance does speak for itself. So do diligence, compassion, and many other qualities.

I've been called brilliant a few times,and my kids are smart...but there's more to life than intellectual achievement, and we focus on that.

Love your blog!

Annie Kate