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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Science Nerd

I was wrestling with my kids, Will and Ali (I tell people we named her that to prepare for the Universal Caliphate), and they do a fairly good job at kicking my ass. Sure, Will is only 8 and Ali is 5, but he is a solid 65lbs and Ali has these tiny fists of rage that she pummels me with. But I digress. We were wrestling when Will started trash talking. Seeing that he is only 8 (and a nice kid) his trash talk is fairly rated G. As he was about to land a kick he cried out, "Take that Science Nerd!".

Well, there are a few reasons why I was concerned about this utterance.
  1. I am not a Science Nerd. I like science and have an educated lay person's understanding of the big ideas, but I never disciplined myself to master math. I believe the dictionary definition of Science Nerd must include a knowledge of higher math.
  2. I am more of a History/Comic book/Political/and other Pop-Culture Nerd. I can talk about the causes of The Hundred Years War and then talk about Bully Beatdown (an AWESOME show). I mean, doesn't my 8 year old know me at all?
  3. Of course, I'm concerned about my boy becoming another American with a disdain for math. Math would be the first domino to fall, next would be a dislike for any multi syllabic word, and lastly he'd develop a glorification of Lady Gaga.
I played it cool. I know it's important not to over react to these things. I decided to bide my time.

A few days passed.

We were in the car (just the two of us)...

Me: Will, remember when we were wrestling the other day?
Will: Yeah.
Me:  Do you remember calling me a Science Nerd.
Will: That was funny.
Me. Right... what do you think the word Nerd means?
Will: Someone who isn't good at science.

I flushed with pride. My boy had trash talked me because he thought I was a science idiot.

Me: Nerd means someone who is smart in science,

Now it was Will's turn to blush.

Will: I'm sorry. I didn't mean it.
Me: Don't worry about it. You didn't know what the word meant.
Will: Why do some kids call other kids Nerds?

Here comes my knee-jerk response...

Me: It's what stupid people call smart people.
Will: Oh.
We got to our destination and got out of the car.

Now, this wasn't the "right " response on my part and I know it. I keep my comments to the kids appropriate a vast majority of the time. I'm lucky that Will has a kind and compassionate temperament (got it from his mum). In the future I will try to package the nasty truths in bubble wrap until my kids get to an age they can handle it.

Just another day on the learning curve...

in Purgatory.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, I think it WAS the right response. It's a truthful response. It doesn't hurt to be blunt to a child now and then, children understand those sort of statements, where more diplomatic statements may get twisted in their minds. Eight is not too young for the nasty truths, eight is where they are starting to see the nastiness in their peers.
    Your kids are going to be labelled nerds at some point, you do realise that, don't you? Because you actually answer their questions rather than palm them off with neat nothings, they have a running head start. That won't go unpunished by other children. And so long as you keep telling them unpadded truths on occasion (not all the time, just now and again), your kids will keep trusting you enough to let you know when that happens. Because they will know that you respect them enough not to lie to them.
    I have four children. My eldest is in her final year at school, and she, her siblings and their friends all tell me I'm the coolest mum they know because I give it to them straight.

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