Article Comment 

Steve Mullen: So I’m not smarter than a fourth grader. So what?


Steve Mullen



We crossed another of those parenting milestones this week, and to our credit, we were smart enough to notice. 


The fourth-grader came home from school with the results of an IQ test she took a couple months ago. The test was a requirement to get into the school''s gifted program. 


I looked at the score, and realized my kid is smarter than me. 


I had suspected this for some time. At 9, she reads a lot more than I ever did. She isn''t struggling in fourth-grade math -- I remember dreading math at that age to the point of getting physically ill.  


No behavior problems either, at least no major ones. At age 9 my backside was already a veteran of several paddlings, and more were to come. To my knowledge she hasn''t even made a teacher cry yet. 


There are the good grades and behavior, and now, the ultimate validation -- a higher IQ. (Disclaimer: She''s not weirdly intelligent. She''s not huddled under her Disney Princess sleeping bag splitting atoms late at night. She requires sleep. She''s not bending spoons or starting fires with her mind. But she''s smarter than me.) 


The news was welcome -- with a little trepidation.  


Everyone wants the best for their child. It''s a relief to know they''re smarter than you are -- what''s the alternative? We want them to have better grades, a scholarship to a prestigious college, and more professional success than we did.  


Even so, parents have to raise their own game in this situation. You can be proud, but you quickly realize you probably shouldn''t share this pride with your kid. You may know they''re more intelligent than you are, but you never want them to know that you know. 


Why? The grown-ups are still in charge around here. Inside our own four walls, we enjoy an air of infallibility, and plan to hold on to it as long as possible. 


Outside, we live in a democracy. In here, it''s Vatican City. The last thing we need is a 9-year-old Martin Luther nailing her IQ score to the front door. 


So we hide this knowledge. And anyway, so what? Maybe there is an inherent intelligence, yes, but I sense a definite lack of street smarts. Maybe she knows how to line up some blocks or put some dots inside circles or whatever they do in those intelligence tests, but let''s see her drive herself out of a bad neighborhood with a shot-out tire at 3 in the morning. I didn''t think so, cupcake. 


Yet there are other serious ramifications to the stability of the household. 


You start looking around, and you ask: If my kid didn''t get her brain from me, where did it come from? 


The wife knows the answer to this question -- and she knows I do too. If it''s not me, it can only be her. 


This brings us to an unstated understanding that she''s smarter than me, too. The smart people are starting to stack up -- and they''re not in Dad''s column. 


Helping me out is the younger kid. She''s the one who is constantly singing out loud, while the other one''s trying to read, only to get a rise out of her bookish sister. She''s the one who asked me today: "Dad, does it hurt to sit on your wallet?"  


She''s firmly in my column. And we lay claim to the personality and the sense of humor, which goes a long way. 


This is what''s happening as I''m writing this: I just discovered that the younger one can open an orange with her bare hands ("I just dig into it with my nails and fingers, Daddy!") while little miss smarty-pants can''t ("It''s just not my strong suit," she said, asking her younger sister to peel her one.) 


There must be a lesson in there. If only I was intelligent enough to figure it out. 



Steve Mullen is Managing Editor of The Dispatch.


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Reader Comments

Article Comment R.Cunning commented at 1/14/2010 9:15:00 AM:

Mr.Mullen most kids now are smarter than their parents.I have a 6year old and a 3year old daughters and both of them can go online,and both are doing very good in school.


Article Comment Collette commented at 1/14/2010 11:23:00 AM:

Maybe she can help correct your misuse of personal pronouns.


Article Comment JC commented at 1/14/2010 12:40:00 PM:

If you can get your little sister to peel your oranges for you, you're pretty smart.


Article Comment R.Cunning commented at 1/16/2010 7:33:00 AM:

Miss collette i'm not perfect like JESUS.


Article Comment R.Cunning commented at 1/16/2010 9:55:00 AM:

Miss Collette get a life.


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