It’s quite strange when your son reaches an age where he is not only taller than you – but is also smarter than you. And probably always will be. Being an average Generation X mother to an exceptionally bright Generation Z is quite the eye opener.
I’ll break it down for you.
I stopped being able to help my 15-year-old son with his maths homework years ago. Embarrassingly, I think he was in about grade seven at the time. I’ll admit I am somewhat mathematically challenged. But in my defence, he was doing an accelerated program. He asked me if I could help him solve one of the problems. Well, sadly, it was numerical gobbledegook to me. So I had to admit I was literally unable to help him with his homework. Oh, the shame.
At 15 I was discovering boys, alcohol and the joys of spending school hours at the beach. I was all about brand names, thinness and doing what everyone else was doing. I was a study in teenage angst and rebellion. Rebellion against my mother, mind you, not society.
At the same age my son gets consistently glowing school reports, excellent grades and knows what career path he wants to pursue. If I had received even one high school report that read like his, my mother would have wept tears of joy.
My son simply likes what he likes, thank you very much. The universe, black holes, physics, time travel and artificial intelligence are subjects that pique his interest. He’s not interested in wearing the right clothes by the right designers. While I battle a chronic Zara addiction, he seems immune to marketing. I don’t know what happened. Sometimes I think they sent me home with the wrong baby. Wasn’t I supposed to end up with the brat?
It’s made me realise that parenting may have little to do with how kids turn out. I’ll confess I’m now inclined to agree with Judith Rich Harris who, in her 1998 book The Nurture Assumption, argues that parents have little or no influence over the long-term development of their children’s personality. Obviously her book went down with child psychologists about as well as a new mum turning up at playgroup with two litres of Coke for the toddlers to share.