Dear self: Snap out of it!

My niece and nephew were in town for the four-day Thanksgiving holiday. The two of them are quite gifted. They show an intelligence and a creativity beyond their years. My father-in-law was doing the New York Times crossword puzzle and he asked my nephew for a four-letter word for karate school. He correctly answered “dojo.” He also identified a passage through time and space as a wormhole. He’s 7-years old. My niece sketched a pear on a table while the other kids sat blank-faced in front of a TV watching Toy Story. She showed the proper light source and correct shading to give it a globular appearance. She’s 9.

I was thinking about all this as I was driving home and then it hit me right between the eyes. The most destructive of all human emotions.


Envy, despite the fact that I have two healthy, happy, attractive little girls who I wouldn’t trade for anyone. Envy that my daughters are only well-adjusted and well-behaved, but not academically exceptional.


Enjoys dancing to Mariachi music with a flower in her teeth, 

What the hell’s wrong with me? I’m no better than the creepy parents on the Upper East Side of Manhattan who dress their yuppie larvae in Brooks Brothers finery and jockey to get them into expensive private preschools in the hopes that 18 years from now it’ll be a leg-up when applying to an Ivy League institution, all of which has more to do with the parent’s public image than the welfare of their child.

I’m trying not to be too terribly hard on myself. I’m a firm believer in the old adage that the first step is admitting you have a problem, so thank God I’ve turned that corner. A friend of mine blasted me for being irrational and said I should count my blessings. He cautioned that gifted children can sometimes wind up feeling isolated or be social misfits. Perhaps these silly feelings of mine are nothing more than the small stones that every parent must chew and swallow.

* * *

Everyone at work has a nameplate outside their office. Check out this guy’s name:



Get it?

13 thoughts on “Dear self: Snap out of it!

  1. ‘Yuppie larve’ is super! Wait till the girls live up to the not-just vocab but insight you so often display.And please, ok. You’re a normal parent. (says childless twit:P). I’m reminded of a scene in that awful, awful Sex and the City movie where Samantha and the pretty one — what’s her name? — are sitting at the bar in Abu Dhabhi?/Dubai?, discussing how they love, LOVE their kids, but can’t help being fed up of their constant whinging. Doesn’t the pretty one say about her daughter,”Rose cries ALL THE TIME. It’s driving me mad! Am I a bad mother?” Answer = er, no.I was the most academically mediocre kid. Doesn’t stop me from thinking, no wait: being convinced that I AM gifted. =)P.S: dojo?? wow! Shaded pear? WOW! Still, too sharp, too soon no? Freak adolescence coming up!

  2. Youngest daughter had trouble learning to read and now she is struggling with spelling. She terrible at – truly. I envied the hell out of parents with kids who read like it was breathing, but dd excels in art, athletics, science and has a scary vocabulary. It all evens out b/c I am pretty sure that other parents envy me my independent, self-reliant child (you should see the looks of longing I get when I remark that dd has been getting herself up, fed without waking us on wknd mornings since she was five – that’s priceless). In addition, I have never had a parent tell me that dd was anything less than a stellar playdate. Again, knowing your child is not looked upon with loathing by other adults b/c of her behavior is not something every parent can claim. (Some of dd’s friends are like being around the constant sound of fingernails on blackboard).The teacher in me knows that the vast majority of children wind up in the same place in terms of intellect by the time they hit 5th or 6hth grade. Same holds true for physical skills. Early bloomers don’t enjoy their leads for long.

  3. Bless you!!Anyhow, I reckon kids catch up with each other and each and everyone of us probably excels at something – it’s just a matter of discovering what that something is.You’re human… and therefore vulnerable to all the not so nice human traits… but you have self-insight… and this is often quite rare.No, I didn’t know what a dojo was either!Sx

  4. Nimpipi: I’m going to ‘fess up before someone busts me. I heard the “yuppie larvae” line in a movie, although I can’t remember which one. And as far as I can tell, you might be the most gifted, bestest ever commenter on my site.annie: My 9-year old is a voracious reader but a TERRIBLE speller! Go figure! I have to do extra curricular exercises with her. I wish I didn’t get all wrapped up in this nonsense. I’m making a point of putting it aside.Scarlet: I have no worries about The Daughter’s abilities. They’re fine students. I just caught myself getting tripped-up in my own pretentiousness.

  5. You’re just to familiar with you own children’s talents. Your brother/sister? is probably having the exact same anguish over your kids perfect manners / vocab / ease with adults or whatever! Word ver = wishwaxe – would be a good word for that sibling envy!

  6. IW: You know, I’m not going to elaborate but I don’t think there’s any reciprocal envy. I think they feel that their kids are the most special of them all. nurse: Thank you, dear. I took myself to the woodshed for being an idiot to my children and am back to normal. Well…as normal as I can get.

  7. having the benefit of hindsight, now that mine are in their 20’s, i agree with annie – that independence thing has served my spawn well, despite the fact that there were moments i wished them to be savant-esque. i could drop mine just about anywhere in the world and they’d manage to find a way out… or get comfortable and stay awhile…besides, i’d put your kids head-to-head with most adults when it comes to knowledge of art….

  8. Hurrah! I got the sneeze too.Listen honey I am just reading “Blue nights” about the life and death of Joan Didion’s daughter.I think your daughters are blessed with caring, loving parents with more than a modicum of common sense.Reading this book makes one realise how precious that is. Never mind that her parents had a brilliant talent.Remember too comparisons are odious:)

  9. UB – mine are similarly “bright” without being geniuses.What is infintely more important, beyond a certain level of intelligence, the bar of which yours pass with flying colours, is SOCIAL skills, the ability to talk intelligently (or at least to be able to bullshit convincingly), to get on with a wide range of people, and not to get self-pitying or downhearted int he face of problems. I’ve always told my girls that I would much rather see them turn into happy nail manicurists than overworked, stressed out barristers or lecturers.

  10. Pat: Comparisons REALLY ARE the root of all suffering! I wonder why we do it? Did you read Didion’s book prior to this one? Boy, can that woman suffer!looby: It’s a slippery slope, innit? You want the best for your kids but you have to be cognizant of what’s best for them individually and what’s going to make you look good as a parent. They’re not always the same thing. Social skills are invaluable. I’ve gotten as far as I have simply because I talk a good game. On paper I’m not that impressive but I found a way around all that.

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