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Clay Feet

At the tender age of 5 (and 11/12, as he likes to say), Simon has become disillusioned with me, with last week bringing about the shocking revelation (to him) that mommy doesn’t know everything. Or, in some instances, anything.

Simon began Chinese classes at Brandeis (enrichment only—I’m expecting no real conversational skills) a couple of weeks ago. Usually he comes home with little books or work-sheets where I can learn fun little words like mei mei (little sister) or ye ye (paternal grandfather). Wednesday he came home ready to show off his knowledge of numbers.

“What’s ______  [uninteligible] mommy?”

“I have no idea!”



“No, mommy, it’s four.”

“Say it again?”

“_________ [unintelligible]

shul?”  [feeble attempt, wide off the mark]

“No, mommy! It’s _______ .”[unintelligible with slight tone action going on, plus added frustration that I’m so dense.]

Suddenly, I know exactly how my non-Jewish friends at KIP felt when their kids came home with Hebrew words that they were helpless to understand or repeat. Simon is already saying words whose consonants, vowels, and tones are beyond me, and he’s only five weeks into his elementary school education. This is the first time he’s ever learned something I didn’t already know about. As he started drum classes a few weeks back, he’s on the cusp of discussing music in ways I don’t understand, either.

Such a strange feeling. The funniest part of which is that while I find it odd but charming, Simon seems to find it odd and discomfiting. Clearly, he thinks I’m supposed to be an expert in everything he studies. You would have thought all that tennis this summer would have broken him of that, but it didn’t! I know this is just the beginning of Simon learning things that are beyond me. He’s young, but we have different intellectual strengths and interests. It won’t be long until he surpasses my knowledge in several arenas.

The mildly disturbing part about all this is that today he’s upset about knowing only a very few things I don’t.  But ten years from now, when he’s likely to know masses more than I do about several things? Well, by then he’ll be a teenager and will likely default to the assumption that I know nothing about everything. Now there’s something to really look forward to!

2 Responses to “Clay Feet”

  1. goldsteinrita says:

    Don’t worry, by seventeen you will know nothing, even the things you definitely do know. But take heart, all of the sudden at about eighteen and a half or nineteen you will get smart again. It’s some kind of a miracle. Hopefully by the time he is adult age you will have the fun experience that I did of learning lots of new things from him that were never in your field of interest before.

  2. Amanda says:

    Rita, it’s amazing what parents suddenly know again after their kids have to go out into the real world on their own. I’ve seen it happen with all my friend’s teenagers! And my cousin Christopher, announced he was smarter than both of his parents, because at six “he knew everything in the world” and had admitted to him, upon questioning, that they did not.

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