Sunday 04 Dec 2016

The First Sign
AJ Robinson

Many parents think their kids are smart, but it isn’t often they get confirmation at age one. A number of years ago, my wife took our daughter to her physician for her one-year check-up. The physician did all the usual checking and then asked if she was talking, yet. My wife said yes, she was talking. She was saying a few words. The physician asked what she was saying. My wife kind of shrugged and said, “All kinds of things.” She held up a baby bottle and asked our daughter what it was.

She replied, “Zats my bubba.”

The response caught the physician off guard. He said that that wasn’t just talking, that was using a full sentence. As my wife said, “Well, I knew I’d never have a dumb kid, but what’s the big deal?” The physician explained that speaking at that level at her age was quite unusual. He asked what else she knew. My wife tugged at our daughter’s shirt and asked her what it was.

“Zats my lellow shot,” she said.

Now the physician was amazed. She knew her colours at age one. Again, my wife was unimpressed. As she and I are the youngest of our families, we haven’t been around many toddlers for a long period. I have a number of nieces and nephews, but all I ever did was visit with them for brief periods. We’d get together for holidays and over the summer, but it’s not as if I was paying attention to their intellectual level.

The physician snatched our daughter up in his arms and raced off through his office, my wife hot on his heels. Her attitude was: Where is this fellow going with my kid? He proceeded to show her off to his entire office staff. They asked her questions, pointed to different things in the office and asked her about the items, and in general tested her ability to speak and reason. The physician told us to expect great things from her.

We didn’t have to wait long. Once in regular school, it was clear she was smart. She sight read in no time and she would finish worksheets in record time. Yeah, it was time to challenge her. We moved her into accelerated classes, advanced placement classes, where she slowed down a bit.

Just a bit, mind, and not for long.

In kindergarten, we had her participate in the science fair, something usually reserved for older children. She created a cat toy. It was a simply piece of plastic with some feathers glued inside it, but it actually worked. Our cat, Snow White, found it fascinating. Ergo, it was a good invention, especially for a girl-child.

Over the years, my daughter took more such classes, participated in science and intellectual challenges and, in general, tested at every opportunity. By the time she went off to college, it was clear she had the potential to do anything she set her mind to. Now, she is preparing to graduate, and I can’t help but wonder where she’ll apply herself. I tend to think, whichever field of human endeavor it is, she’ll do well.

Good luck, kiddo, reach for the stars.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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