How to Win Friends and Influence People

Jane was telling me about her day at school. They were reviewing problems in math class. When no one else answered a question, she would raise her hand.

On one such occasion, a boy started to harass her: “Well, there’s Jane with her hand in the air. Thinks she’s so smart and knows all the answers.”

She responded, with a fair amount of sass, “Yes, I do know the answers and I’m happy I know the answers, because that means I’ll pass the test and advance to the next grade and then graduate and be able to get a job!”

She claimed that that shut him right up! I didn’t bother to point out that it probably hadn’t endeared herself to him. I don’t think she cares.

In some ways, she is so much like I was. She loves to do extra problems and can’t stand to not raise her hand when she knows the answer. I was painfully aware of how unpopular those desires were and very much wanted to not be made fun of. As a result, I tried not to make a scene. My daughter, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to care what lower performing students think of her and appears to think it’s her civic duty to chastise them to do better.

A couple of weeks ago, again in math class, the teacher assigned the odd problems for homework. Jane raised her hand and asked if she could do the evens too. People groaned and said, “Jaa-aane! Stop it. You’re going to end up making us all do extra!”

Again, her response was considerably less than charitable: “Well, maybe you should be doing more problems. Maybe if you tried a little harder you’d get better grades. I like doing math.”

On the one hand, I’m very proud that she’s not afraid to speak her mind. I am happy that she is unashamed of being smart and enjoying school. On the other hand, I’m glad she’s not a boy. If she were, I think she might get beaten up a few times before she learned when to hold her tongue.

Advertisements

Wisdom Comes With Age

Daryl: “I’m a lot smarter than Hal.”

Me: “You don’t know that.”

Daryl: “Sure I do. Hal, what’s 12 times 12, huh? It’s 144. I know a lot more than he does.”

Me: “That doesn’t mean you are smarter than him. It just means you’ve learned more than him. He’s too young for us to know how smart he is. He could be smarter than all the rest of us put together.”

Daryl: “Well, I’m wiser than he is. I’ve lived some long, hard years more than him.”

Yes, son, nearly nine long, hard years makes one a very wise young man. Indeed.