I watched the first half of an episode of Freakonomics last night. In my altered state of mind, much of it was vague, just some sad facts with funny faces. However, one thing did stick out. They talked about people attempting to…well, I guess attempting to “genius-ize” their kids. Playing Mozart, or teaching them different languages, enrolling them in various classes. As small children, infants even. It seemed so high-maintenance. Surely, with many dead genius’s recorded in history, long before all of our technological advances, this was not the way. My parents didn’t raise genius’s, but we’re certainly well adjusted for our time period. We don’t seem to deal with the same difficulties of others in our generation. It made me wonder, if you throw out all the super-kid mumbo jumbo, how did my parents raise just decent kids? That’s maybe a better parenting question nowadays. And looking back-bear with me, it sounds bad at first-I think it was a little bit of neglect. Nothing dangerous or malicious. Certainly not to the extent that we felt unloved. But my parents both worked, sometimes very long hours. And working so much, they were tired and liked to just hang out with each other when they were home. Because we were not helpless children, we were trusted to be home without a baby sitter. Because our parents didn’t want us to be lazy, or messy, we kept up the house. And our punishments-when we were outrageous, as we often were-involved a complete loss of all recreational devices. TV cords, computer keyboards, books, toys, all removed, sometimes permanently, depending on value. So there we were, three kids of similar ages, with nothing but time and quiet on our hands. We did all kinds of things. Explored the hidden peaks of whatever apartment complex we were at. Started entrepreneurial enterprises. Actually, made pretty good money sometimes. Usually made friends with the apartment managers kids, because they knew where the good stuff was. We went into schools that were closed, tread through private property with the arrogance of explorers. As we grew up, of course, our explorations began to vary. But through those earlier years, the lessons we learned have made adulthood much easier. The TV is not the only option. If it’s nice outside, go outside. It’s not where you’re at, it’s who you’re around. You actually can do this yourself. If you get in trouble, take your punishment and move on. If you’re gonna get punished, make sure it’s worth it. Don’t go it alone-it’s never as much fun, and if shit goes down, you want backup around. We learned all kinds of things just from that magic combination of being kids and being free to go with it. And my parents, God bless them, were experts at letting us just be kids.



9 thoughts on “Parents

  1. Wasn’t as clear on the thesis of this essay as I wished to be other than “Parents”. But there were some great ideas and topics mentioned. There was an very interesting topic mentioned regarding parents trying to cultivate genius in their children. The way I understand that, you either are a genius or you are not. Though genius varies, regarding right and left brains.

    I have a brother who was a natural genius; Photographic memory allowed him to read 3 books a day when he was in college (1 or two in HS if he wasn’t studying) He was tested at a 181 IQ., was a nationally recognized who’s who regarding academics, and even though he graduated with a doctorate in Eng. Lit and minor in Philosophy, he never really accomplish much in the practical world. He never really fit, and with all that intellect, he never cared to.

    I remember hearing my father always say, “what good is genius if ya don’t have common sense” – better known today as emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is not limited to ability or mental gift as genius is, it grows exponentially with ability to adapt, grow, and learn at the experiential level. I am hoping I had more emotional intelligence than dad’s genius.

    The right brained creative world has been doing a lot of innovating catching up in creative genius and the revolution as made great progress regarding integrating the value of creative contribution into the left brained business world. I wish they were approaching right brained learning yesterday as they are today – A great book to read is “Imagine” By Leher:

    Thanks for evoking the thoughts.

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    • You know a lot more about this subject than I do. My daughter wrote this piece, but I have to say that I’m interested in the genius vs. emotional intelligence theory you were talking about. All three of my kids are amazingly different in their talents, and where one may have a problem with a subject, one of the others just flies through it. Yet, the super booksmart kid has the hardest time with social relationships…that is the one who wrote this post. The youngest of my three has above average intelligence, but even more amazing social skills. She, I would say, is the happiest and most well adjusted of the three kids. My son, who socially is the best of all three, has dyslexia and hates all book learning. But, he can figure out how machinery works, or fix just about anything in the house. I consider him just as intelligent as the other two. Thanks for commenting…I found your comment really interesting…

      – Bird

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      • There are so many great books out there regarding the different personality types and how to cultivate them so they can all have a fighting chance to adjust in positive ways. Regardless, our uniqueness can make us feel different and awkward when we are young.
        Sounds like each of your children are a different tear of clothe – what a blessing.

        I am not sure what type I am, I have an above average I.Q., a high score on emotional intelligence, yet am very right brained and a bit complex. I was scored as having a rare and high aptitude to articulate emotions which is rare for males. about 95% of males can’t express there feelings and emotions. Yet learning and focus has been tough my whole life. Probably ADD — I was a lefty switched right as a boy – that probably screwed me all up! lol! The one who doesn’t like to read has a different way into learning. The trick is to find it. Probably is more visual as I was. Yet, once I took interest in something, I learned it like magic.

        We all learn differently, its all good. I love LL Barkats book Rumours of Water about writing creatively. It really approaches things from right brained perspective and she shares the thoughts in relationship to home schooling her girls. It really has some great parenting philosophy in it that bucks traditional left brained methods.

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        • I definitely will check out that book. I studied a little bit about personalities when I was trying to figure out how my own mind worked. I suffered PTSD as child, so I developed this insane hyper-vigilance…kind of an OCD of the mind. When I was learning about this, I stumbled onto some theories about how PTSD effects certain personality types differently, and on and on. I have an unusual line-up genetically as well. I was always curious about which of my characteristics I possess that were borne out of this trauma, and which ones were just genetically mine. ..sorry! I love to discuss stuff like this..

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          • No need to apologize.

            I have come to a resolve regarding learning disabilities, beauty, health, intelligence, etc. — We all have gifts no one will know or understand. We all have hindrances, challenges, and our own personal nemesis. Though people can help us, enable us, and all the above, we must accept who we are, be grateful for all of it, and fight to develop and take what we wish from this world while we are in it.

            It’s just like getting old. We can complain, or dig in and get tough to make the best of it;) Us challenged learning types really have many jewels, they just take longer to unearth, more work, more faith, but the pay off, ahh that pay off is very rewarding.

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            • I’m inclined to agree with you about all of your points. I learned a long time ago that I was never going to truly understand everything about myself, but that the more I could come to an understanding about why I thought or reacted a certain way, I then could beginning to retrain my mind on some things. Definitely not all of them, but I have come a really long way from that broken little kid I once was. The brain is just absolutely amazing!

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