January 30, 2013

If I knew then, what I know now

This morning was one of my more interesting mornings as a parent. I've been doing this mom gig for 17+ years. I feel like a grizzled veteran on the good days and an unrepentant task master on the bad ones. Regardless, I love my kids more than life itself and my goal is for them to do well.

So I was taken aback this morning when my 15 year old asked, "Mom why do you think we are so smart?" Do you think it's just genetics?

The 17 year old chimed in, "Yeah we talk about that sometimes, because it's awkward being the *smart kid*. "My kids asked this not out of arrogance, but rather curiosity. I never thought raising smart kids was a stigma, but for them, at times it is. My 15 year old piped up, "Yeah, why was I doing 60 piece puzzles when I was 3?"

The fact is?

I don't know. I have theories and as harsh as I am on myself at times, I guess I did okay. I wanted to fill their unending source of curiosity. I took them to the library and museums. I limited television time. When we did have television, I watched with them and then created games to expand on it. Yes, I asked my kids to invent their own Pokemon characters. If we could give a half hour daily to Pikachu and Jigglypuff and Charizard,  dangit! They were going to come up with their own character.

I don't know what we did or how our genetics contributed. My husband is a smart guy. We both are. But parenting has taught us that that it's rarely about the recipe. I just know that our kids excel. Nature/Nurture? I'm not sure. We went over a list of siblings in their school who are/were the top of their class. I am proud, undoubtedly. I see my children in the advanced classes, their class rankings and GPAs. I see their test scores. I know they excel. I don't know why. It doesn't stop me from being proud, and I wish I could spell it out. But my book would likely look like this:

Everything I Know About Raising Smart Kids

(crickets chirping). 

Fact is? I have no words of wisdom. I think that always looking for ways to stimulate their brains helped. I think that limited television and complementary assignments helped. I think reading to my kids helped. I think marrying a smart guy and his contribution to our gene pool helped. 

I just don't know why they do so well. 

I am just grateful that they do. 

My advice? Pay attention when they are little and give their brains ways to grow and learn. Find activities outside the school. Libraries, museums, theater. Put it out there. I did. I don't know if "that" was what did it. I just know that is what I did and my kids are at the top of their class. I just wanted kids who knew what to do and how to learn. I think they showed me that the did and could. 


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