In speaking to my mini human the other night, she was practicing unscrewing a bolt from a nut. Cue the lost your marbles jokes. She was asked how did she get to be so smart and she calmly answered something along the lines of “just like Mommy” or “Mommy taught me”. As flattering as this sounds, it really got me thinking.
I tend to shy away from labeling anyone ‘smart’; as a child, it wasn’t a compliment to be called smart. Probably because smart was a prefix to ‘alec’ or ‘ass’. Smart was often synonymous with being taken advantage of and having a group of friends that maybe not were real friends. I did well throughout school. Top 3 in both middle school and high school. My graduating class totaled less than 30 – don’t give me too much credit. Yes, I mean three-zero. “Smart” meant I received several scholarships which I am most grateful for. But there’s a dark side to being smart.
It did absolutely nothing for me when I went to college. I had no study habits because those smarts gave me this false belief college work would come as naturally as it had all the years prior. What a surprise. I didn’t know how to take notes. I didn’t know how to follow along to a lecture and extract the important pieces. I struggled. A lot. In my mind, being smart would carry me through 4 years and I’d emerge with this fabulous degree. You can laugh at any time. I am. Smart meant peanuts in college.
I had to learn how to study, how to succeed in a higher education setting, and how to do what worked best for me to get through. I made it. But, again, it was a struggle. So being smart? It’s just a word with a whole lot of promise and no deliverance. And I don’t like to call anyone such lest they learn the struggle like I did. I prefer words like strong, brave, and a good thinker. These words mean more to me than the book smarts that would have failed me had I not quickly realized the only way I was going to make it to a degree was by my own merit. So whenever my mini does something extraordinary or I see her little mind moving as fast as it can to figure out a puzzle, I compliment her on her perseverance and determination. Those are the skills I want her to notice about me and others. That’s what I want her to believe she has inherited from me. Because supermodel beauty and above average talent won’t pay my bills. Unless you count humor. I could pay about $2.93 of the water bill.
If I paid myself!
I ask you –
How do you compliment your child(ren) and self?
Were you truly prepared for any type of higher education?
Tell me you went to a huge school with hundreds of people! What’s that like?