My nine year old son is really smart. He has a photographic memory and an insatiable desire to learn. Consequently, he is much smarter than I am in so many things. His mind is stuffed with random facts. He can describe the flag of Lesotho and recall the atomic weight of Berkelium. Just for fun, he reads books like, “The Art and Craft of Problem Solving” and each year’s copy of “The World Almanac.” He is a walking computer. My husband and I joke that we need to get him on a game show to make some extra cash.

The problem with having a smart kid is that he knows he is smarter than I am. He’s lacking that sense of awe most kids have when confronted with their parents’ vast storehouse of knowledge. I can’t dazzle him with my brilliance or ensure his cooperation by telling him something he doesn’t know. For example, we were having an argument the other day about why it is important for him to go to bed at 9 pm.

Me: Son, according to the American Association of Pediatrics, your growing body needs 10 hours of sleep.

Son: Actually that finding is based on a sample population of 493 subjects in a study done by the University Children’s Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland and the results can’t be generalized to the entire population of the world.

Me: Well, um, their findings must apply to some degree because all growing kids need sleep.

Son: Yes, but the amount we need varies from person to person. Each individual has their own circadian rhythms.

Me: Well okay, I agree everyone has some individual differences, but we aren’t meant to stay up all night.

Son: Mom, circadian rhythms are endogenous and they can be affected by zeitgebers like daylight, but with the invention of electricity we gained the ability to manipulate the earth’s 24-hour light/dark cycle to suit our needs.

Me: What the…..?!?!?

I have the sinking feeling that I am on the losing end of this argument, so I rely on my trump card: life experience. He can’t top my 50 years of life.

“You know son, I have lived on this planet 41 years longer than you have and I KNOW some things about life. For example, I KNOW children who keep their parents up all night have to live with the consequences of irritated, tired parents.” I see the wheels turning in his head.

“I KNOW that the majority of the humans on this planet sleep at night because they have to be awake in the daytime to go to work and school.” I’m really getting worked up now.

“I KNOW that if Dad and I don’t get enough sleep we can’t go to work and if we can’t go to work we can’t pay for the life to which you have become accustomed.” It’s beginning to dawn on him that parental power might have more to do with income than intellect.

He grudgingly replies, “Well I wish you could just download your life experience to me!”

Aha, light bulb moment for me. I gleefully retort, “What do you think I am doing every time I try to teach you something?” He gives me a dumbfounded look as reality dawns on him. He has been outwitted by his old Mom. I have turned the tide in my direction, I can download at will and he can’t complain. After all, he asked for it!

6 thoughts on “Downloading Life Experience

  1. Hilarious! Sounds like our house. Both parents are lawyers, but we are routinely “out-lawyered” by our smarty-pants kids. Usually I have to pull rank to get out of it too, lol.

  2. I love his comment about downloading your knowledge. MIght as well download the wisdom part at the same time!

    I’ve seen my future and I’m scared. My 4-year-old already wants to argue every point.

  3. Profoundly gifted child who grew into profoundly gifted 22-year-old biology undergraduate with awesome grades here.

    I was compelled to post after reading not only your post about your child’s astronomically high sensitivity but also this one.

    I think this is going to require some understanding on both parts; both your comfort with your child’s higher intellectual capacity than yours and your gentle teaching of your child that knowledge is not the same as wisdom and that even though young people can be far wiser than older people that it is highly unlikely he has sufficient life experience to outdo you in the combination of wisdom and knowledge yet (I’m not planning to ever have children, so I’m speaking sort of from a viewpoint as a former child; I suspect your kid may have sufficient ability to understand this, but I don’t know).

    Regarding his sensitivity, it may be a good idea to sit down with him and have a talk about self-confidence, trust, and the fact that it’s not a good idea to trust people immediately; you have to make them earn it. The thing about the world is that the vast majority of people are not too bright, so even if they’re well-intentioned one still has to keep an eye out so they won’t screw up. Talk about degrees of trust, too. Talk about Hanlon’s razor – what can be explained by stupidity should not be attributed to malice, and that sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice. Talk about philosophical things, if he wants to.

    I sense quite a bit of insecurity from you.

    1. Thanks Katharine for your insight and willingness to share your first-hand experiences. I appreciate the advice and will share it with my children. Yes, I am insecure every day. The very nature of parenting is fraught with insecurity. You do your best, yet spend many a night wondering if your best was good enough. I hope when my kids are 22, they look back at their childhood and feel that my love and efforts were a positive force in helping them grow into happy, successful adults.

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