The other day, I said to Sullivan, “You are SO smart!”
“I’m not really THAT smart,” he said, “actually, I am kind of dumb.”
“No you’re not! Who said that to you?” I demanded. My mama bear claws were already out.
“Nobody,” he said, “I just think I am dumb.”
I spent the next ten minutes quizzing him and when he answered me correctly every time, I asked him if a dumb kid would know all of that.
It floored me to hear him talk like that. I thought we were raising very confidant, well-adjusted kids. In fact, I thought they were maybe a little TOO confident. When I asked Brady if he was nervous for his first spelling test he told me no, he was not, because he knows he is a “smarty pants” and it does not matter if he gets one wrong. Sullivan is known to look in the mirror and say, “Hello, good lookin’” and he often tells me that his job is to make people laugh.
The only thing I can think of is that there is much ado about Brady being smart and Sullivan must be feeling like he is living in big brother’s shadow. It is not just me, anyone who hears Brady talk looks at me and exclaims, “He is SO smart!” The other day, one of Brady’s classmate’s mothers walked up to me to tell me that she volunteers in the class and that Brady is “wicked smart.”
“Yeah,” I said awkwardly, ”he is a really bright boy. We didn’t do anything special, though. He was just born like that.”
(I am not bragging about my kids. I have done nothing to contribute to their ease of learning other than supplying genetic material. They really were just born like this.)
The thing is, Sullivan is just as bright as Brady, he is just not as obvious about it and maybe people just do not notice or comment as much about it. Actually, when I went to his end of the year conferences last year, even I was surprised by all that he knew based on his assessments.
Or maybe he just has middle child syndrome, despite my best efforts.
Either way, I have been making a point of telling him every day how smart and creative he is and, today, when I had an unexpected morning off of work, I surprised him by picking him up from preschool and we had a special lunch together. And while we were eating lunch he said, “I like it just being us two.” I agreed. And on our way home, when we drove past a cemetery, he said, “Mom, when you die, I am not going to bury you. I am just going to carry you around everywhere.”
Sweet and smart (and maybe slightly creepy). You can’t beat that!