Monday, October 24, 2011

Precocious Kids

I’m currently reading and enjoying immensely The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.  The book is written from several viewpoints, all connected in some way to a fictional out-of-print book called, well, The History of Love.  As the mystery behind the book’s history unravels, so do the stories of the narrators.  One of the voices in the book is that of a 14 or 15-year-old girl, Alma Singer, and she is what I’d call a PRECOCIOUS KID.  You know the ones in books…kids with adult-like stores of patience, a breadth of understanding, a biting sense of humor, interest in sundry and complex topics.  In other words, unlike any kids you’ve ever met.  Don’t get me wrong—my children are brilliant.  Any one who knows them knows that, right?  At times, they become interested in topics and want to expand their learning and understanding and yes, they can store certain facts.  The sheer number of EPL and MLB players and stats within recall of my three boys is amazing.  Getting them to remember to wash their hair in the shower, another matter entirely.

So as much as I like this book, at times I am slightly annoyed with Alma and her clichéd existence.  In a short reading session the other day, Alma waxed on about Jewish history, the method of determining which plants are edible in the wild and the exploratory mission wherein the ecosystem at the bottom of the ocean was discovered.  It was a Saturday, so we were rushing from one soccer game to the next and between, picking up my daughter at her Musical Theater class, where she’d be singing "9 to 5" for the hundredth time (isn’t there a more modern number they can try, I thought—but that’s another topic for another post, older people revering culture from their own era).  My two nine-year-old boys (pictured above) were in the backseat.  I was contemplating Alma and her considerable knowledge and decided to observe my own geniuses.  They were just finishing up a session of silly talk, where they pretend to be one stuffed animal or another, and I tuned in just in time to hear a thoughtful discussion about how it feels when you bite your tongue (stings for ten minutes, like a bee sting, then burns).  Once in the dance studio, they spent ten minutes punching holes in a bulletin board,

or one punched holes while the other punched the first in the arm, all the while making unintelligible noises.  I wondered where we had gone wrong, why they weren’t talking about tectonic plates under the ocean, the Warsaw ghetto or hydrogen sulfide.  Unable to resolve the matter with so much going on (and apparently, my own limited brain), I thought it best to return to my reading.

1 comment:

  1. Would Kafka have been stimulated by the internet bursting with fake gems? Would he have dived even deeper or played the comedian, like many bright kids today?


"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka