I'm not a parent (that might explain why I don't have as much gray hair as some of my contemporaries).
When I see pictures of mother and child sharing a tender moment posted on Facebook, or catch glimpses of fathers and sons hanging out at baseball games, one of the first questions that comes to mind is: “Do parents know when their kids are dumb?”
We’re all very good — expert perhaps — in spotting other people’s less than gifted offspring. Whether it’s that pointy-faced kid drinking milk from his breakfast plate at Denny’s or our neighbor’s daughter who likes to eat grass, we can spot a dopey kid a mile away. Unless that kid is right under our nose.
Maybe dumb is too heavy a word. After all, the behavior I described doesn’t necessarily reflect intellect. Who’s to say that grass-eating girl won’t be a ground-breaking environmental scientist or that pointy-faced kid won’t be the next Einstein (who, folklore tells us, was not a stellar student).
So rather than dumb, do parents know when their kids are average?
When the family is gathered around the television and watching 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez sing, do the parents of a 17-year-old boy whose greatest achievement thus far is lighting his flatulence afire look at each other and silently acknowledge that maybe greatness is not a stop on their child’s train ride through life?
Do the moms and dads of girls who think every sentence is a question whisper to each other that maybe it’s not too late to breed another, less confused hybrid of their DNA?
Or are parents, by virtue of that magical birthday, eternal optimists? Does having a child skew your sense of reality — a reality that is apparent to the rest of us who don’t think your kid’s use of a firecracker and a coffee can as an alarm clock is genius?
For a while we’ve lived in a world that’s been perverted by Barney the dinosaur. That purple Svengali taught a whole generation of kids that they were special.
But there’s a difference between special and special-special. Barney didn’t tell us that.
The problem with that is if you’re a kid who goes around believing that you’re just as smart if not smarter than the next guy — and you’re not — then you become an adult who believes the fallacy of self-importance. And the next thing you know you’re on an MTV reality show because you’re a drunken mess or the word jackass is synonymous with superstardom and you make a lot of money and life’s a little bit easier for you but... Hmm. On second thought,maybe that fart lighter is on to something.