I'm going to say something that's considered taboo in parenting communities: my kids are smart. They are curious and inquisitive. They love books and reading. They experiment constantly and with impressive insight as they try to figure out problems. And from their earliest days in a classroom setting, every one of their teachers or caregivers has pulled me aside and in the same very serious voice said "S/he's so smart." And I always smile politely and try to be humble and maybe even demurely dismissive, as I say "Thank you."
Bringing up the fact that your kid is smart earns you pretty much all the snark from others. I simultaneously get it and don't get it. On the one hand, bragging is unattractive and some parents of smart kids are shameless braggers who feel like their child's "advanced" status puts those children (and themselves by virtue of being the parents of such magical creatures) in a special category above everyone else. There's no need to go on about any of your child's good qualities. But why is simply admitting your child is bright so brag-y? If you delightedly squeal "My daughter is so cute!" (unless you go over the top or do it constantly) no reasonable human is going to begrudge you that. But if you proudly say, "My daughter is so smart," people, especially other parents, bristle.
Because somewhere along the way people began to think that "my kid is smart" really means "my kid is smart...er than yours."
Because of the unspoken law of never admitting your kid is a brainiac, the challenges of raising a smart child are not often discussed. But this is a safe space, people.
You Can't Lie To Them
Because they will know you're lying. You can't tell them the playground or ice cream store is closed — they understand business hours. If you don't know how something works and you tell them "magic," they're going to give you some serious side-eye until you give them a more accurate explanation. (Though, on the rare occasion when you can pull one over on them you are practically mad with power.)
You Can't Spell In Front Of Them
"Books are important!" you said. "I want to instill a love of literacy and learning!" you said. Well, that's backfired spectacularly, hasn't it? I would suggest trying speaking in Pig Latin when you don't want your child to know what you're saying. This served my husband and me for a little while... until our kid cracked the code.
"Why?" x 1,000,000
Questions only lead to more questions with this lot. It's good, because they're curious about the world around them and thinking deeply about any given issue... but as a parent it can be exhausting. If the average child asks why 500 times a day, you have to multiply that by about 10.
You Will Have To Look Up Answers To Questions You Don't Know
- Because they will ask you a lot of questions you don't have the answers to
- "I don't know" is not an accepted answer
- Did you know that while praying mantises die in the cold winter months, their egg sacs survive and the nymphs emerge in the spring or early summer? This is one of the latest questions I had to consult with Google about.
Their Arguments Make Sense
Smart kids have the ability to build a pretty decent argument. Not all the time (fruit flavored candy is not a healthy snack, even if it's made with fruit juice), but not infrequently, after I've told him no, my son will tell me, "Oh, I have an idea, instead of X we could do Y and Z in order to reach the same desired conclusion in a way that conforms to your rules." And sometimes I'll be like "Oh... OK, yeah, that works." But other times it's like, "Goddamnit, that does make sense, but still no, because I need to assert my authority here."
You Go Through Puzzles Like Toilet Paper
Ignore the recommended ages, because your little Einstein certainly will. They very likely delight in puzzles, but they figure them out quickly and require new, more challenging materials on a regular basis.
You May As Well Just Live At The Library
See also puzzles. Fortunately, libraries are free.
They Will Try To Snag You On Technicalities
They will throw your own rules back in your face all the damn time. Joke's on you, kid! I am above the law!
You Will Be Corrected
Whether you said a cheetah runs 60 miles per hour when they are clocked at 70, or you mispronounced "sauronitholestes," your kid will tell you you're wrong. Not necessarily in a bratty way, but just as a matter of fact. You will have to learn how to accept this information gracefully.
All The Tinker Toys
I'm convinced that both my children have greater spatial intelligence than I do and tinker toys provide a good outlet for this... but it also means that there are tinker toys all. over. my. damn. floor. at. all. times. See also: Legos and blocks.
Smarts Don't Always Match Maturity Levels
Just because your kid is smart doesn't mean they're not, you know, a kid. This becomes challenging in a few arenas :
- School readiness: Academically they can handle things but might struggle with social/emotional intelligence or maturity
- Other people's expectations of them: When they see your child demonstrate great intelligence, they can become unnerved when your child does not demonstrate adult levels of self control or logic
- Your own expectations of them, for the same reasons
They Have Long Memories
At which point anything you have ever said to them that may undermine what you are saying right now will likely come back to bite you in the ass.
You're Paranoid That Talking About Your Kid Will Be Perceived As Bragging
Because no one wants to be the braggy parent (or, at the very least, no one wants to be seen as the braggy parent). So it's like, "This video of my child reading is adorable... but am I going to look like I'm bragging if I post it on Facebook?" But then you're like, "Is a bird bragging when he flies?!" It's a delicate balancing act, people.
But for all these annoyances, life with a bright kid is enriching and fascinating (not to mention entertaining AF). And you can always live in hope that they're going to be some sort of tech wunderkind whose brilliant inventions will enable you to retire by the time you're 40.