Tuesday, July 6, 2010


The mother and child were speaking French, engaged in what sounded like a rather deep conversation. Her son looked to be around 6 or 7 years old. Every now and again I would hear the names Descartes, Kant and Aristotle – icons in the world of philosophy.

So what was a 7-year-old doing discussing philosophers? I’ve no idea, really.

Perhaps he was a child prodigy.

They left for a while, headed toward the history, or reference section.

After about 15 minutes, they had returned. It almost seemed like she was quizzing him.

Except now they were speaking Spanish.

And I’m beginning to feel a little less smart. Mensa-qualified or not, I still only speak one language. I like to think I speak it imperfectly but well. And sometimes I like to think I speak it perfectly well. But it’s still only the one language. (Not counting gibberish, which I am actually quite fluent in.)

But discussing philosophy in French and whatever they were discussing in Spanish? Not in my repertoire.

And then a breakthrough. At least for me. I heard English spoken.

“Mom?” the boy genius asked. “Can we take a break soon?”

“Langston,” his mother intoned. “You want to get into Harvard, don’t you?”

Okay, a couple of “problems” here.

First, who names their kid “Langston” anymore? Oh, I’m sure it has some family importance, or perhaps some historical reference, but this is the 21st century. And Langston doesn’t even break in the top 1,000 names for popularity. Not that popularity is the only or primary factor in naming a child, but what does his nickname become? These are considerations that parents need to be making.

Second, the kid is six or seven years old. And he needs to be concerned with what college he needs to matriculate?? Talk about getting the bum’s rush out of childhood.

But then, Langston’s true genius shone through.

“Can I be a kid once in a while too?” he asked.

Hallelujah. Profound insight noted. Courage to speak also noted.

Mother, either blind and deaf, or just plain oblivious.

“Langston,” she says, apparently in all seriousness. “You can be a kid after you graduate from college. If you think it’s still important then.”

OMG. Somebody call the living-vicariously-through-your-children police for intentional assault and battery on a childhood.

I get it. Parents want the kids to have a better life than they had. Or at least equal to. And yes, I will concede that I am passing judgement without having all the facts.

But seriously, parents need to let their kids be kids. And if the boy genius is smart enough to recognize the importance of that, then this is one instance when the mom needs to listen to her son.

It made me want to run out, find a big puddle, jump up and down in it, get myself all muddy and wet, and then go to Culver’s for a chocolate sundae with marshmallow topping.

Because acting like a kid, once in a while, is, yes, still important.


  1. Love the line:
    "Somebody call the living-vicariously-through-your-children police for intentional assault and battery on a childhood."
    I may have to "borrow" that one.

  2. Glad you liked it.
    While you're free to "borrow" my line, I always appreciate a link back to my blog.