“Be as smart as you can-
but remember that it is always better to be wise than to be smart.”
In this post lies somewhat of a mom-brag and also an American Human rant. Be warned.
I don’t know when it happened. I’d like to blame the current culture that celebrates ignorance over intelligence, and a majority government that calls schooled people “elitests,” but I’d be lying. Because I was mocked for my intelligence way before this shit all went down.
My daughter is smart. She’s wicked smart. She does dumb things, unwise things if you will, but that’s part and parcel of being a kid. We all did those things, right? I mean, I can write you a list about three feet long of all of the stupid shit I did as a kid. Add adulthood and we’d probably stretch a mile. But smarts? I had ‘em. I was talking about bullying with my mom today, and I told her that the one thing that never bothered me was if someone called me stupid. I’d just cock my head like, “Try again.” I knew I wasn’t stupid. You could call me ugly, and you could call me poor, but don’t call me stupid. And not in the Otto way from A Fish Called Wanda. I was hardly stupid.
My daughter is hardly stupid.
The thing is, I take that shit for granted now. She didn’t really speak until she was 28 months old, but since then she’s been making up for lost time, and she has questions about EVERYTHING. And I answer them to the best of my ability. If I don’t have the answer we Google. She talks like a little, verbose, elderly person from days of yore, and it tickles me, and I’ve thought- “When she gets to school they’re going to kill her.”
“They” being other kids.
Because I know, believe me I know, kids are cruel.
Today she had her kindergarten assessment. They “test” them and figure out which classes to place them, and I was nervous. Not because I thought she’d do badly. Because I thought, “Oh crap. So it begins.”
Today the kindergarten teacher who “tested” my daughter came back with her and laughed. She said, “I show them the alphabet and point to letters and ask them which ones they are. Every kid says, “A, B, C…” Livvie was saying, “That’s an A. That’s a B. This is a C… That’s a K- it comes before L… she wouldn’t stop using full sentences.”
And I was embarrassed.
I had a flash of embarrassment that my kid was well spoken.
I said, “Yeah, well, she talked late and she’s not stopped since- heh heh…”
But it gets worse.
We toured the school after. We walked up the kindergarten/first grade wing, and an open room had lights on. Livvie poked her head in, saw a teacher, and withdrew. The teacher called out- “Are you starting kindergarten this year?” Livvie popped back in and said, “Yeah! Hey! You decorated your room like outer space!” The teacher said, “Yes…” Livvie said, “That’s Earth!!” and pointed. The teacher said, “It is.” I said, “She wants to go to Mars.” The teacher said, “I do, too. You know, I think someday we’ll send a rocket to Mars, right?” and Livvie said, “Yeah! And I’m going!” and as we turned I heard the teacher say, “I hope I get her this year.”
What the HELL. My kid came home and told me she wished she’d been asked to do math. She only had to count. She told me she was asked to count and got to 100 before the teacher told her to move along. I spent so many damn years being an under-achiever so people would quit fucking with me that I almost don’t have a frame of reference for this anymore.
I am ashamed. I am terribly ashamed. I am ashamed at every time I “dumbed” down my language in conversation- local dialect not withstanding- and I am heartily ashamed at every single time I played stupid so I wouldn’t hurt someone’s feelings. I am ashamed that I ever stopped going to school because my passion wouldn’t pay. I am horrified over every time I ever acted like a dumbass in front of a man I liked because being too smart wasn’t sexy. Wisdom? Sex knows nothing from wisdom- but I’d pulled out twenty-dollar words and been never called.
Screw all of that.
Today Livvie was high as a kite over how well she did and how approving her teacher was. I remember that. I remember the thrill of knowing something. I remember the thrill of learning. All I can do right now is try to foster that thrill. I don’t want her to lose it.
I might have an ally.
Before her assessment today she was coloring with two children in the library. The older sister was coloring, and the younger brother who was oh-so-cute and registering for kindergarten said to Livvie, “What color crayons would you like? Or would you rather have markers?”
They sat on the same chair until it was his turn.
Never be afraid to show your learning. Never. No matter what.
Don’t be afraid to learn. Ever.