The Day You Realize Your Kid Is Smarter Than You

Cookie: Mommy, I figured out what the “x” means.

Mommy: Oh?

Cookie: Remember when you said you’d teach me multiplication?

Mommy: Yeah, after you’re better with your addition.

Cookie: I figured it out.

Mommy: Oh really?  Are you sure? What’s 2 times 2?

Cookie: 4.

Me:  That’s the same as addition.

Mommy: What’s 3 times 2?

Cookie: 6.

Mommy: What’s 4 times 2?

Cookie: 8.

Mommy: What’s 5 times 2?

Cookie: 10.

Mommy: What’s 6 times 2?

Cookie:  I need to borrow your fingers.  No, wait. 12.

Me: Mommy, you’re just going up by 2.

Mommy: What’s 3 times 3?

Cookie: 9.

Mommy: Whats 3 times 10?

Cookie: 30, and 4 times 10 is 40, and 5 times 10 is 50, and 6 times 10 is 60, and 7 times  10 is 70, and 8 times 10 is 80, and 9 times 10 is 90, and 10 times 10 is one HUNDREDDDDDDD!

Mommy: Who taught you?  Did you learn this in school?

-Side note:  the Pre-k 4 you’re attending is really glorified daycare, where the only things they’re actually teaching are how to raise your hand and how to stand in line: so, no.

Cookie shaking her head: I figured it out myself.

Crap.  Now what am I supposed to do with you, Cookie?

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You’re Not Normal. We Had You Tested.

It’s only natural for all parents to think that their kids are geniuses.  One moment, you’re holding a stinking poop machine that isn’t even smart enough to eat properly and can’t be trusted not to seriously injure itself.  The next moment, there’s a miniature human being asking questions that can’t be easily answered.

As part of the craziness in getting you into kindergarten in New York, we had to get you tested, Cookie.  IQ tests for four-year olds: absolutely, utterly, annoyingly crazy (and useless and meaningless and arbitrary).  Due to a scheduling problem, your testing date was inexplicably moved up a month, and we didn’t get a chance to even show you the sample problems, let alone prep you.  You were even sick on the day.  Nevertheless, we told you that you were going to play games with a special teacher and dropped you off at the psychologist.

A month later, we received your score.  Due to the craziness of New York competition for kindergartens, I have to apologize, Cookie, for being initially disappointed: your score was borderline for the school.

Sorry.  I’m very proud of you, Cookie.   You scored three standard deviations above average.

Crap.  Now I still have to figure out how to keep up with you.

Edjukashun: We’re Doing It Wrong.

For the last year, Cookie, we sent you to a Saturday morning Chinese language class at an aftercare center near home.  One hour.  Full immersion.  Short.  Easy.

Too easy.

Mommy and I wanted something a little more challenging for you (you wanted something more challenging for you), so we signed you up for a three-hour weekend class in the middle of Chinatown.  Unlike, the local Chinese class at the non-Chinese aftercare center, the Chinese class in the heart of Chinatown is taught in English.  The teacher speaks mostly in English to teach a handful of words to kids who speak English because of the fear that parents might complain that their children won’t understand what the teacher is saying.  Immersion?  HAH.

Yes, Cookie, Mommy and I made a mistake.  Next time, we’ll head back to Chinatown… and sign you up for an ESL class.  At least that class will be taught in Chinese.

The Craziness of a New York Education

When looking for private schools in New York, the three-hour interview for a toddler to enter a pre-k 3 (that’s pre-kindergarten for three-year olds) class isn’t even the craziest part of the process.  Actually, that bears repeating.  The application process begins a year in advance, so that’s a three-hour interview for two-year olds to enter a class for three-year olds a year later.  Let the craziness begin.

First, there’s the parent essays.

What is your child’s greatest accomplishment?”  Not pooping her pants?  Talking?  Walking without face planting?

What are your child’s occupational aspirations?”  Seriously?  She’s two.  Her idea of a work day consists of nap time and finger painting.

What does your child want to study in college?”  Hey, she still a year away from her first day of pre-pre-kindergarten, and she hasn’t even had her first day of school, but let’s skip right to college questions.

I have no idea how I managed to write the required essays (paragraphs, with an “s”, as in, several paragraphs on the supposed academic credentials of a two-year old) for each those questions, but I filled in the questionnaire and sent it in.

On the big day, after the teachers called the students in, Mommy and I sat with a small group of parents when the Director of something or other with an overly fancy title appeared.

Director:  Good morning, parents.  I wanted to thank everyone for coming, but I don’t want anyone to get their hopes up.  As I’m sure everyone already knows, this year we have over 5,000 applicants for just fifty spots.

That’s… a lower acceptance rate than Harvard.  For pre-kindergarten.  Makes… sense.

Director:  Blah, blah, blah.  Tuition this for this year is $42,000.  Blah, blah, blah.

Holy…  This pre-kindergarten class is more expensive than Harvard.

Four hours later, the teachers brought you back to the waiting room.

Me:  How was it, Cookie?

Cookie:  It was fun, Daddy.

Me:  What did they ask you, Cookie?

Cookie:  They asked me to read a book.*  Then a different teacher came to ask me questions in Chinese.

Me:  Did you answer in Chinese?

Cookie:  Yep.  Then another teacher asked me questions in Korean, and another in Spanish.

Me:  What did they ask?

Cookie:  Silly questions.  Then they asked me to count to twenty and look at shapes and colors.

A week later, we received a happy phone call.  I’m proud of you, Cookie.  You were one of the fifty.

Me: Wonderful, so what will you teach in this class?

Director:  Letters, numbers, colors: the Common Core

Me:  But, with that many applicants, you’ve presumably selected only kids who can already read.

Director:  Yes, and I think your daughter will fit right in.

Me: So you’re still going to teach letters to kids who can read?  You’re not going to teach them anything they don’t already know?

College tuition for glorified day care?  No, thank-you.

_________________

* Fortunately, it was Good Night Moon.  You have that book memorized, Cookie.

Tiger Mom Parenting

Sorry, Cookie.  Mommy is a Tiger Mom.  As a kid of another Tiger Mom (your Grandma), I know how it feels.  To be fair to Mommy, you did ask for it.  You did tell Mommy that you weren’t taking naps during nap time, and you did ask for a grid for you to practice writing Chinese.

I’m quite torn.  You’re in a pre-K 3 class with other three- and four-year olds where the teacher has been teaching a letter a week, but you’ve been able to read English before you turned two, and you’re now writing complete sentences (you get your messy handwriting from me).  The problem you’re going to face is the repetition as pre-K 4 and then kindergarten will teach the same letters and numbers all over again.  Skipping grades will only mean that you lose years from your childhood, so rather than let you get too far ahead, Mommy taught you to read and write Korean.  Now, since you’ve become as proficient with Korean as you are with English, we switched to Chinese.  In my defense (I swore never to be as pushy as Grandma), I never pushed you, but I also couldn’t discourage your wish to learn.  If you wished to read a book, well, who were we to say no?  If you wished to practice writing, how could we refuse?

Yet, there’s something inherently wrong sending “homework” to school for a four-year old to complete during nap time in pre-kindergarten, but what could I do? I couldn’t even tell you to put aside your little grid and play with your friends, because the teachers prohibit playing during nap time.  I know you won’t nap.  You could read during nap time, if you wished it, but you did ask for the grid to practice writing Chinese.  I can’t discourage your wish to learn, can I?

Mommy was quite angry when you ended up doodling all over the little practice grids instead of filling in the characters, and I couldn’t tell you how happy I was that you did what you did.  I’m proud of you, Cookie.