What If

I’ve been reading this book, Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter. It’s a thick book, both physically and in content. The rest of the post may include some bits that relate to the book, so if you haven’t read it and you intend to, you might want to avoid continuing. But then again, it isn’t really about the plot so much as what the book did to my brain, so I guess it doesn’t really matter. In any case, I do recommend the book – especially if you have any interest whatsoever in physics, astro- or otherwise.

One of the components of the book talks about these kids that are cropping up in society with super intelligence. These kids exhibit some Asperger’s tendencies, but more than that – they’re extremely smart and think about things that elude many adults. But this post isn’t really even about that.

It’s this: What if my kids aren’t smart?

I used to wonder what I would do if my kids are smarter than me, but I think I know how to handle that. Give them something to think about. Give them something to learn about. Libraries are awesome things, and when the town runs out of interesting materials, there are more colleges within reach around here than is really fair to the rest of the world. So it’s not really a concern. Extra-smart kids just need extra things to use their brain for. And the more the better. (And why this isn’t obvious to the people in the book, I don’t comprehend. Fear, I guess.)

But I don’t really like dealing with people who aren’t smart. I know, it makes me sound like an ass, but I prefer spending time with smart people. I’ve been some combination of lucky and smart about my friends choice in me as a friend and in my choice of fields. I keep myself surrounded with people who are smart and intellectually stimulating. My friends are smart. I work in a company where the people I interact with daily are more likely to be much smarter than me than not (and it sometimes gives me an inferiority complex, which just makes me want to get a masters so I can know more – but that’s for another soul-searching post). I know how to deal with smart people. I avoid “stupid people.” And I use that term generally to refer to people who may not technically be stupid, but “just” average.

Yeah, I’m an ass.

Moving on.

What if my kids aren’t smart? I can’t avoid them. I can’t make fun of them. I can’t be laughing or even frustrated at them if they can’t keep up.

Maybe they’ll be good with music. That would probably be enough. To have music in common. Or art in general. That’s something I think I could handle.

But, and here’s something far more terrifying, what if they don’t like music? Or art? What then?

I was musing about such things, while walking up the hill from the train. I finally came to a conclusion – it doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t. And I don’t have to worry about it right now anyway. I’m not having kids now. Someday, but not now. And I guess all the fear just reminds me that I’m not ready.

Thing is, I used to get creeped out by my friends having kids. And I can sense in some of my friends that they still are baffled that our friends are having kids. But it doesn’t freak me out like that any more. I know it’s something that just happens, and something that I hope some day may happen to me. (Just not now.)

I guess the introduction of this set of “what ifs” is just a part of the progression of my genetic imperative.

Either that, or this book is making me think too much.

When I finish these (there are three in the series), I think I might need to go back to Harry Dresden. He only makes me think about how cool it would be if I could do magic.

September 23rd, 2008 • 4:46 pm • dinane • Posted in Books, Life, Uncategorizable

858 Responses to “What If”

  1. Josie says:

    I have had similar thoughts.

    The next question is “what if I don’t like my kids?” There are some people who are smart and have similar interests that I just do not like.

  2. Joe says:

    I figure with all the pain of childbirth and the hormonal bonding that happens, you’re going to love your kids at the molecular level no matter what and who they are.

  3. dinane says:

    A molecular level?! Cool!

  4. Joe says:

    It’s not for nothing that it’s a *very* rare thing for a mother to hate her own children. Even before the baby is born there are biochemical signals passed between mother and child that promote bonding and well-being, in addition to conveying status information.

  5. Laura says:

    ha, i often think of these things. well, except for the baffled by people having kids part because i have one. although, i am still baffled by that one. going to walmart, by the way, kills me. i live in a bubble where the average person is very smart and it worries me when i am forced to witness that it’s not true in general. yes, i too am an ass. what i was going to say was that i think being smart is bound to be genetic and if you’re smart and your mate is smart, i think your child is doomed to be smart too. it’s just the way it is. i say doomed because i do think there is a such thing as being too smart and your brain just never shuts off. thinking can be very not good sometimes.

  6. Joe says:

    Yeah, especially when it’s late late late at night and you just cant turn off enough to catch some sleep ’cause you are constantly thinking of something.

    And, Laura, I totally sympathize with you about the “bubble.”

    Some day I love my bubble. Other days, I hate it ’cause I think I’m missing out on some larger issues of connectedness and so on.

    As for genetics, well, that brings in the whole “nature” vs. “nurture” debate. I do believe that while there will ultimately be some genetic component either in terms of neural connectivity or memory retention there is still a VERY hefty part of it that is “nurture” as well.

  7. Laura says:

    i would think that a lot of intelligence is education and therefore nurture but i think there is a lot to be said of natural intelligence, that being the capacity to be able to absorb this information as well as deduce things from that education and also create, further developing education for others to learn. if that makes sense.

  8. Joe says:

    Yeah, that makes complete sense. A simple summation to it is “not everyone is equally gifted.” A few short words that got Prince Charles in trouble a few years back for uttering. Although I agree that a general education should be made freely available to all those who wish it, I disagree with the premise that every person stands to equally gain from all portions of said education. I think that what happens is you end up with too many people sitting in classes where they’ve no talent or inclination and they’re missing out on a greater opportunity to explore and learn about things that they are interested in. I would like to see more of an ability to specialize and develop talents in the education while still maintaining some basic level of cross-platform skills.

  9. Laura says:

    here, here.

  10. Dinane, David. says:

    Hi, My name is Mr DINANE David, are we related?
    Tks and advence for you reply.

  11. dinane says:

    Mr. Dinane, I am sorry to say, that Dinane is not in fact my real name. It is a nickname that my sister made up for me when we were young. She has since shortened it to Din. My first name is in fact Diane (one n, two syllables). In retribution (or something similar), I call my sister Sa, though her name is in fact Sarah (with the h). And occasionally, seeing as she is my little sister, I call her Munchkin, which may be amusing to people who know that she is something like 5’11” tall. (I eek out another inch though, so I totally win!)

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