Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dumber Than A Fifth-Grader

I like to think that I know a little about a lot of things and a lot about a few things. But today, a nine-year-old put me to shame.

While at work, I had a young man as my twelve o'clock patient. As he followed me down the hall to the treatment room, he explained the intricate origami figures he had brought with him. Now I'm a big fan of origami, so I listened closely as he showed me the Hydra, Chimera and oh dear, I've forgotten what the third one was, I was so taken with the Hydra.

First of all, the Hydra was red, my favorite color. Secondly, it had three heads. And finally, it was made from a single piece of paper and it had more folds than a chubby baby's legs.
He said his dad had made it last night.

Then Nathaniel* asked me, "What is your favorite mythological character?" Up to this point, I had deduced that what we had here were creatures from Greek mythology, and while this isn't an area that I have a particular interest in, I was doing pretty well keeping up with the new information I was hearing. It really was interesting - did you know that a Hydra has poisonous breath? I was being a good listener and I had responded with an occasional "wow" or "uh-huh" or "cool." But now he'd called my bluff.

Not wanting to appear to be totally in the dark, I answered, "Uh, I don't really have a favorite. What's yours?" What followed was a dissertation on his favorite creature that would likely qualify him for his doctorate's. And it was at this point that I knew I was way out of my league.

From there, we moved on to the world of dinosaurs. When Nathaniel was two, I remember him accompanying his mother for her dental cleaning, and while most two-year-olds have their blankie in tow, this one brought a dinosaur half as big as he was. As I worked on his mother, he entertained me by reciting the names of half a dozen dinosaur species without missing a consonant or a vowel and telling me what each one looked like and what it was capable of doing. Mom took a snooze. I imagine she had heard it all before, but I was in shock. He was two.

Nathaniel is now nine and it takes about thirty to forty minutes to complete a dental cleaning appointment for a child this age. But when you have to allow for such long words as spinosaurus, pachycephalosaurus, and acrocanthosaurus, you need a few extra minutes. (Did I mention that Nathaniel was only nine?)

As the appointment wore on, we discussed Jurassic Park III (no, I hadn't seen it, in fact hadn't seen Jurassic Park Two) and Arthur. ARTHUR! I KNOW ABOUT ARTHUR! My kids had the Arthur books! I even know who D.W. is! Now we're getting somewhere. But Arthur's vocabulary was different, sadly. The Arthur of my girls' childhood never used words like "vomitrocious." Such language, I swear.

And how many nine-year-olds do you know who use the words appendages and simplistic and use them correctly? I know one.

By the time we got out the floss, my brain needed a nap and I felt like a Dumbasaurus. Shown up by a nine-year-old. I'll bet Nathaniel knows a lot about comets, too.

*Name changed to protect the intelligent.

Hydra graphic from ThinkQuest
Dinosaur graphic from Dinosaur.org


Rosengeranium said...

We all do from time to time. On the other hand, can he pronounce "paradontitis" or "gingivitis"? (On second thought, let's hope not.) If you ask, you'll probably find his knowledge in flowers pretty poor.

Kim said...

So...um...what was his favorite, anyway? (I *love* Mythology...'twould be interesting to hear about another mythology-fan's favorite.)

Or was it the Hydra? Scary beast, that. Try and kill it by the time-honored "OFF WITH ITS HEAD!" and it doesn't work. That's just not right.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Kylee, this is so funny, I love the "*Name changed to protect the intelligent." and the "Dumbasaurus" comments. Very cute.

Garden Lily said...

It's pretty neat to see kids like this pursue their interests, and really excel at what they love. I am happy that my 8 year old son could beat me at chess years ago, and now can beat me at tennis too (I don't know where that natural talent came from!). My 10 year old daughter is amazing at picking up tunes - her vocal abilities are far better than mine. Neat.

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