Apparently when I come out of the shower I smell like ‘melted butter on toast’. This is according to my 9-year-old son, and I’m not quite sure how to take it. I think it’s a compliment because he adores toast with melted butter. Yes, I think I’ll go with compliment.
I love when kids just say what’s on their minds. They don’t understand the consequences, they don’t care about how it sounds. They just say what comes natural. Like when he used to say ‘Can we watch Pirates and the can of beans tonight?’ (Pirates of the Caribbean of course!) Or my eldest daughter could not get her head around calling my parents Nanny and Granda Ger, so she just opted for ‘Ger’ and ‘Gerry’. Kids really do say the funniest things.
I had to remind myself of this last night as I watched Channel 4’s programme ‘Child Genius’. I watched the series last year and remember being slightly horrified at some of the parents, but I decided to give it a whirl again this year. And it hasn’t disappointed. Dear God, how I would love to slap some of those parents around the head. (Excuse the outburst of violence!). I don’t have a child genius, as far as I know, and I was not one myself. And thank the heavens for that. In my world kids are meant to be kids. Kids need to have fun, to express themselves. I understand the world needs genius, and it needs the next Einstein, or Marie Curie. But I have to wonder, for every 10 of these kids, how many will actually make a mark in their field, and go on to live a ‘normal’ life? Last night there were kids who’s relatives think they are Mozart re-incarnated, whose parents blend vegetables into smoothies to ensure they get enough ‘brain food’ and kids who spend their free time doing chin-ups under the watchful eye of a parent. They are all very nice kids and I really feel my heart go out to them when I think of the hours they could be out getting Vitamin D in the sunshine, much better than any blended carrot juice.
As with a lot of these programmes, for me it always comes down to the parents. Parents who live their own dream and ambitions through their kids. There were the parents last night who admitted to organising THEIR lives around their daughter, not the other way around. They home school her and do lessons as and when SHE wants. She told them after day one in school that she didn’t learn enough, and didn’t get nice food. So they ‘listened’ to her and never sent her back. I’m sorry, don’t all kids say NO after day one? How will this child ever succeed in life if she does not learn to co-operate with others, to have some structure to her day, or simply know that sometimes you will be told no?
The final straw came with 9-year-old Tudor who was competing in the competition along with his big sister. It was at the end of the programme, as Tudor did not make it to week 2 and his sister did that his parents true colours were revealed, in particular his father. Sitting, ignoring his son’s presence, he simply spoke to the camera about how after all the ‘preparation and work’ that to realise it still wasn’t enough was ‘disappointing’. My heart sank for the poor child who looked up at his father with desperation in his eyes. Desperation to be told it was ok not to be in the top 15, that it was ok because he tried his best, that you love him just as he is, and you are NOT disappointed. A desperation that was going to go unattended; by an overgrown, ignorant, self-righteous bully, namely his father.
It was then that I smiled at my own 9 year old son, my 12 year old daughter and thought of my 11 month old asleep upstairs. And I thanked my lucky stars that instead of having university level mathematics quoted to me daily I am being told I smell like melted butter on toast. To me that is genius enough to make me happy.