Teaching my son to read early was partly self-defense. He’s got food allergies, and I figured the more he could read his own labels, the safer he would be when he’s out of my hands. But, I’m not gonna lie, I also want my kid to be smart. Definitely, he should be smarter than me and my husband. I want him to be a towering pillar of intellect if at all humanly possible. Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius.

Why? I want him to be denied nothing. He should have the universe by the balls, as far as I’m concerned. Okay, the intellectual standards to be a politician are abominably low, but perhaps he’ll opt to go the mad scientist route to become supreme dictator of the world. I’m trying to think with portals here. He’s also going to understand every one of my pop culture references.

He’s going to do all his own science projects and stuff, too. You know how schools expect mommy and daddy to pull the weight? Ain’t going to happen here. Mark my words though, teachers, if you give him a ‘B’ for doing his own work and give little Johnny an ‘A’ for something his parents did for him, I will haunt you.

I already have worked out what I’m going to tell him when he complains that he’s not fitting in with other kids. “Son,” I will tell him, “it’s easier to play dumb than it is to play smart.”

He’s also going to be able to survive the urban wilderness when he leaves my home, unlike many young adults like my former student tenants. Honestly, I will never understand how you can get into university to become a pharmacist when you don’t understand why you set off the smoke detector while broiling pork chops. I felt pretty bad about explaining how that curvy thing in the bottom of the oven is called a heating element, and it gets really hot, and spattering grease is flammable. When asked whether the oven was still safe to use, I died a little inside.

Will my boy be lonely and unpopular? Maybe. I worry about it for all of five minutes, and then I look at the dramady of teenagers who hate their parents and are crying about how they’re not keeping up with their buddies because they didn’t get an iPhone for Christmas.

Then I think: do not care.

Life’s cruel and kids from ages 12-20 can be little jerks. Few of us glided right through high school without some emotional angst. Do we fit in? Are we attractive to the opposite sex? What do others think of me? It’s a rite of passage that almost none of us have any real control over. I could give my kid free rein to try to be the suave and swarthy socialite, and by fluke or design, he might still be the unpopular dork with pizza face when he’s 16, unable to get onto the hockey team because he is short like me, or skinny like his dad was in high school.

But those are worries for another day. For now, my son is a happy kid and an outstanding reader who wants to be smart and fight crime like Batman when he grows up. Good for you, my son. Bruce Wayne is no dummy.

And he’s goddamn cool.

Anne Radcliffe
Author

Anne usually speaks in memes and SAT words, and she frequently attempts to explain the laws of physics and high school chemistry according to the kitchen via her home blog FoodRetro. If you want to know why ice melts or pretzels turn brown, and you want to make food that you never imagined could be made from scratch in the process, she's your blogger. Her friends describe her as "hilarious when you get to know her," but it could be that they are just amused by the way she gets riled up when reading the paper. She can also be found playing the part of community editor and grammar nazi here on BLUNTmoms.

10 Comments

  1. oh man do I hear you! I have 3 in school now and the troubles we’ve had the school because my daughter and sons happen to be a bit ahead of the game. The hardest part is that we are raising our kids to be independent thinkers and to solve their own problems but we have to teach them a different set of rules for when they’re at school because the school tells them to get a teacher instead of dealing with it on their own. If I had the patience to homeschool I would. Well written article!

  2. Anne Radcliffe

    Oh I know. The education system is so different even from when I was a kid. As a volunteer at the school, I feel the system’s pain and limitations. I believe even in the best case scenarios though, as parents we gotta be prepared to fine-tune and supplement the education our kids are getting. Nobody knows them better than we do!

  3. SmudgeOtto

    I didn’t get an iPhone for Christmas and I hate my parents; is that gonna be problematic for us? That aside, love your writing and this piece! Who knew you were living with a Caped Crusader who can read and understand labels better than me apparently? Awesome.

  4. I am a geek and proud of it! Thank you Anne, great article! I think Wil Wheaton said that being a geek or a nerd is about how much you love something. And that is the best definition of a geek I know and I wholeheartedly agree! Besides, I am a daughter of two geeks and married to another geek and hope to pass on the geekiness to my children!

  5. Super. Absolutely and thoroughly super. Two things: the highly literate always have the last (and most intelligible and wittiest and relevant) word, and all the geeks from my second grade classroom are doing exponentially more awesome things than the popular kids. Long live the geek! xxx+o

  6. Anne Radcliffe

    I hate to think my kid could die because he doesn’t understand how to read. I can’t trust any adult besides my husband and myself to read it for him and automatically know that casein and whey are milk products.

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