We are a society of chest thumpers, rah-rahers and ”We're No. 1“ finger-pointers. And it's enough to make one sick.
Oh, you think I'm talking about Americans, right?
Nah. Try parents.
While I've been a member of the ‘club' for more than a year now, it's only been of late that I've been able to try on my foam finger and scream to the high heavens, ”MY KID'S A GENIUS.“
Heard that one before?
Modesty and parenthood don't seem to come hand in hand, do they? Like strained peas, it has to be force-fed until you realize it's for your own good. So far, I can admit that it's been a tough, tough taste to acquire.
Think of a fellow parent you can't stand, and they probably have a child that's been bragged about until your ears bleed. You hear, ”My little Johnny knows his ABC's,“and ”My little Johnny can write his own name,“ or ”My little Johnny is potty trained.“
Great, so is my third grader.
In reality, I can only hope when my 17 month-old reaches that age that daddy has come off of his high hobby-horse. But lately, it's been hard not to brag.
My mom and dad made the 14-hour voyage from Long Island, N.Y. last week to Atlanta and of course, I knew seeing their son was not the No. 1 item on the menu. But no sooner had they laid eyes on their only granddaughter, daddy wanted to show them just how ‘smart' little Mary Ellen has become. In that same moment I transformed my child into ‘Bingo the Wonder Dog.'
Go give grandma and grandpa a kiss, Mary Ellen. SMAK.
Point to Elmo, Mary Ellen. Good girl.
Do a double handspring with a quarter twist through the flaming hoop ...
OK, OK, you get the picture, but what can I say? I'm a proud father.
It seems magical to me that my daughter can understand my words, or can point to what animal goes ‘quack' or ‘moo' or ‘BOING' - even though I've never heard the sound of a bunny rabbit hop across grass. I'm amazed that she knows Dora from Boots and Grover from Oscar the Grouch.
I think this has to be how Earl Woods felt when young Tiger sank a five-foot putt while he still was in diapers. Or how George Bush Sr. felt the first time junior rigged, er.. won student council president. (Easy folks, I'm a Republican).
Reality, however, can set in quickly. All it took for me was a phone call from my sister.
While my only sibling is also a loving aunt and godmother to my child, my sister also has a Masters degree in speechology. But I had to chime in about what a whiz the kid was. She walks, she talks, she even julianne's fries. ”MY KID'S A GENIUS!,“ I exclaimed.
”Well, she should know about 200 words by now,“ she said.
Suddenly, the image of me watching Mary Ellen address the Harvard Law School Class of 2025 went ‘poof.' My daughter was average, at least in psychological terms. Two words came into my mind - Community College.
So what's the point of my rant? Maybe that parents need to try and walk the tightrope between promoting and encouraging their children. While it's hard to believe, I'm sure there are 17 month-old children who are further along than my daughter in their development. I guess everything's not always a race.
But you ought to see how fast my kid can run ...
Chris Goltermann is a page designer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org