31 May, 2007

Regarding my absent children

A few days ago I wrote,

My kids? Bah. Take 'em or leave 'em.* The ten year-old is obsessed with monster trucks and the one year-old is obsessed with ripping catalogs apart. My wife accidentally lost a catalog she hadn't read yet thanks to "the Destroyer", as we sometimes call her.

*I'm kidding, of course. I'll write something serious about my kids later.
I guess it's about time to write something serious.

My son baffles me. The boy came to this country nearly two years ago, barely able to understand my English. He nevertheless managed to earn all A's every marking period over the last two years, and he informs me that he had the highest average in reading this last marking period. There's something bizarre about a foreigner outperforming native-speakers, and I do mean bizarre. It makes me wonder what's wrong with the native students. There were immigrants at the schools I attended as a child, but the top students were still American; I was the high school salutatorian, for example, and the valedictorian was a brilliant young black woman. You'd think that a Russian boy would be at a disadvantage, if only his mother insists on speaking in Russian with him. Sometimes I think it's simply that we don't have cable TV or a video game system at home (much to his dismay) but that can't be the reason, can it?

He liked playing soccer a great deal this past Spring, and now he practices outside whenever he can. He's been working a lot on perfecting the rainbow kick. I'm relieved to see that he's found an outside activity that appeals to him.

As for the girl, she is neither talking nor walking as of yet, and she's nearly one year old. All in due course. She's headstrong, that's for sure. Loud, too. She changed a lot over the last three or four months, and has grown remarkably more mature. On the other hand, she acts like an ape sometimes. Really! When she finds and grabs some toy or food item, if she grows too excited she will shake both of her fists up and down and grunt repeatedly in a way that reminds me of an excited ape. I don't recall seeing a child act like that before, and I've seen a lot of babies. Maybe I just don't remember these things.

She hates being dressed, or having her fingernails cut. She'll put up with dressing and undressing alright, and she even understands when to pull her arm out and when to push it through. But she kicks up an immense racket whenever her mother subdues her for the nail cutting. I remember not liking having my nails trimmed.

She also like open doors. They call to her. She definitely feels a need to explore whatever she can, and find whatever is available to touch and feel and taste.

Children. They're not just people; they're an experience.


Clemens said...

I don't know Jack. Is it possible that your son is, uh, brilliant?

It would be the simplest explanation (and let the native born dullards off the hook). And it might be true.

jack perry said...

Well, of course he's brilliant. :-) BUT (and this is a big BUT) that doesn't help me understand anything. What causes brilliance? Why do some people seem to be idiot savants and others simply excel in everything? What baffles me is the bit about language. I have a bit more difficulty with Italian than Italians do, even though I've been speaking it since I was younger than he. But he scores higher on English than most Americans. (This despite the fact that at home he tries to get away with all sorts of corruptions of the language.)

Even if he's brilliant, it baffles me.