maybe I’m not smart enough to be a parent (oops too late)

alligator t shirt

I don’t know how you’re feeling about your intelligence these days, but mine is definitely in question. I’m tempted to build myself up here by listing all of my academic accolades…I realize, however, that these are ancient and utterly useless when it comes to the kind of knowledge I am lacking. (And maybe useless just in general but let’s not visit that sad, overgrown island.)

For example, until about three minutes ago, I didn’t know the difference between a crocodile and an alligator. I wouldn’t have been able to pick them out of a police line up. More relevantly, I didn’t know which one is featured on my 19 month old’s T-shirt, pictured above. (Love this handcrafted shirt – my husband got it on the street in NYC from the person who crafted it.) I have been calling it an alligator. My son is now therefore calling it his “alligator shirt,” quite proudly, and I had no idea if this was correct.

While folding laundry today, I decided enough’s enough – I’d better consult the google machine for the sake of clarity. Turns out I may have been right: the main physical difference is in the snout – the alligator’s is wider and shorter (like on this shirt?) while a croc’s is longer and pointed. I’d like to dedicate my correct guess on dumb luck.

I know this is just the beginning of the informational “winging it” that’s about to happen in this household. We are coming upon the Time of a Million Questions with our son and I won’t be able to answer many (any?) of them without looking them up. Just as I can’t do even the simplest math without a calculator.

Feeling similarly, my husband purchased this book, Homework for Grown-ups: Everything You Learned at School and Promptly Forgot:

Homework for Grown-ups

(For the record, I am not worried about my husband’s knowledge base – he’s way way ahead of me, especially when it comes to trivia and general knowledge. In fact, I’ll probably refer Ian to him by answering many of his curious inquiries with, “I don’t know, why don’t you ask your dad…”)

The chapters in this clever book include: English Language and Literature, Mathematics, Home Economics, History, Science, Religious Education, Geography, Classics, and Art. There are tests at the end of each chapter, with answers in the back, eek! And there’s even a “Recess” section in the middle explaining hopscotch and how to make the perfect paper plane. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Where did it all go? Everything we learned at school now seems a distant memory. We sit slack-jawed when our children ask us which planet comes after Jupiter, or what the capital of Bulgaria is, or what quid pro quo actually means. Have you ever found yourself making up your own version of the Pythagorean theorem in order to avoid the humiliating scorn of your offspring? Have you ever started blithely on a list of the thirteen original colonies only to find yourself stuck at eight? Have you ever succumbed to the temptation to use the embarrassing cop-out clause “Ask your father/mother?”

I should definitely read the rest of this book, though I have no idea how or when I’ll fit this in. Maybe in the next few years my stupidity will become even more glaring and I’ll blaze through it in a series of all-nighters. This is, after all, pretty much how I operated in high school, college and grad school. And though I resisted mentioning this above, I now feel the overwhelming need to share with you that I did very well academically.

I also feel the need to share with with you another one of Ian’s cute shirts, this one obviously depicting a camel:

giraffe t shirt

I wonder: are you feeling smart enough to be a parent?

12 replies

  1. Haha, I can relate. My niece asked me what was under the sand at the beach and I said “more sand.” “What’s under that?” she asked, and I said “the earth’s core?”

  2. All I can say is, thank God for google! Imagine our parents who had to go to the library or look in an encyclopedia! I think it is important for kids to know that adults don’t know everything and that as long as you know and teach your children how to use resources, you can pretty much figure out the answer to almost anything! Street smarts over book smarts has served me well!
    Also, as a mom I have to remind myself of the saying , if you don’t use it, you lose it, brain included!

    • ha! encyclopedias – you are right! Talk about clunky. Yup, I’ll be looking everything up – hey, if it’s good enough for you (supermama x 3) then its definitely good enough for me! 🙂

  3. OMG so funny and so right. I double the google sentiment. And, saying ask your dad or I don’t know let’s look it up. What are baby geese called again, O’ yeah, goslings. Why is the sky blue? O’shit, something about reflecting lights and white light, wait, let’s go to the library. Again, so fun and so very funny. Love it!!

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