As I was sitting in my daughter’s new classroom last week for parent orientation, one mom inquired about the progression of the students’ math curriculum. I followed the teacher through fractions and fairly grasped what he was saying about decimals, but as he carried on with concepts such as squaring and cubing, a dense fog seemed to engulf my gray matter. I almost shut down completely when he uttered the word “algebra.” This is when I picked up my pen and scribbled a note to my husband that said something along the lines of, “I have no idea what they’re talking about except that I will not be able to help Ella with her math much longer.”
Of course, I knew the day would come when my children would not only tower over me (yet to come!) but their smarts and skills would out-smart and out-skill me. I didn’t envision this happening while they were still in elementary school, however.
My daughter, who’s soon to be 10, frequently looks at me in awe for how little I know about things like the solar system and basic scientific functions. She rattles off songs about Native American tribes, the elements, and something or other in Spanish. In my defense, I tell her that if I’d been taught those songs in school like she was, I’d have that stuff down.
Ella began taking piano lessons around the same age I did, but for some reason, it has taken her only four years to be able to play the caliber of pieces it took me seven years to master, and with seemingly less effort. I’m not sure I have a credible explanation for this one, aside from the suspicion that I have something like musical reading dyslexia. I’m just glad that all the dough I’ve laid down for piano lessons seems to have paid off. It is indeed nice when you actually enjoy listening to your child practice an instrument instead of fighting the urge to run screaming from the house.
It’s one thing for a 4th-grader to know a thing or 200 more than her mother, but even my 6-year-old has surpassed me on several fronts. For starters, he can navigate the computer with startling speed and grace. Often, he watches me on the machine with raised eyebrow before patiently stepping in to say, “Mom, you know you can just do . . . (XYZ).” “Oh sure!” I lie. “I knew that!” He knows better though.
Without a doubt, if someone were to hand Billy and me an outline of the United States and ask us to fill in the names of as many states as we could, that kid would put me to shame. Heck, he could label countries I may not even be able to match with their proper continents. Even though I didn’t personally teach my son any geography, I’m going to insist on taking credit. ’Twas I, after all, who set him and his sister up with those laminated U.S. and world map placemats when he was approximately 2 years old. I won’t hesitate to remind him of this when he steps off the podium at the National Geography Bee in a couple of years.
I do have to say that I enjoy being able to watch a football game and have any confusing points immediately explained to me by my little sports-kipedia. Sure, it’s kind of scary to ponder just how and why a kid of his age would retain such information, but I try not to let it freak me out as he’s charting plays at his dad’s games (after all, I’m not really sure what this means he’s doing).
While I may no longer have much to offer my children in the way of knowledge or aptitude, I take comfort in knowing that they still rely on me for clean underwear. Why I would take comfort in this I do not know. Perhaps it's more something like general relief that they even bother to change their underwear at all.
They may be smart, but their hygiene leaves much to be desired, I'll tell you that.