When Your Kid Is Smarter Than You Are

Photo 43

Many summers ago, our family went to a local art festival, and while I visited another booth, my son found a turquoise and green glass pendant and, though he only had eight dollars in his pocket, he convinced the vendor to sell it to him.

We coined the piece of jewelry my “compliment necklace” because every time I wore it, I received kind words from strangers who gushed over the glass that glowed in the sun.

I loved my necklace like nobody’s business, and I wore it every day.

Recently, while we were vacationing in Florida, the glass pendant slipped off its silver chain and smashed on the bathroom tile.

Screen shot 2013-04-14 at 9.47.15 PM

“NoooOooooo!” I wailed, falling to my knees. “NoOoo! No! NoooOooo!”

Carrying the jagged shards in my open palm, I showed the pieces to my son who happened to be sitting in his brand new rocking chair, reading a book, and eating a slice of pie.

Standing, my boy put one hand on my shoulder. He’s taller than I am now, so he looked down at me a little. Stepping aside, he pointed to his new rocker, not 24-hours old.

“Come. Sit down. Have a little pie. You’ll feel better.” He offered me his plate.

I shook my head. Because I didn’t want any pie.

I wanted my glass pendant back.

“You bought it for me when you were 7,” I complained. “Every time I wore it, I thought of you.”

My son settled back down in his rocking chair. “If we didn’t lose people and things we love, we wouldn’t know how important they are to us.” My son shoveled some pie into his mouth and pointed to his chest. “Anyway, you don’t need a necklace to think of me. I’m right here.”

At home, TechSupport doesn’t let me tuck him into bed anymore. But, the night my pendant smashed, my son let me cuddle with him for a few minutes. As I stroked his spiky crew cut, I saw a silver thread in his hair.

I tried to pick it out, but it was attached.

Turns out, my 13-year-old has a gray hair.

My husband and I have said our son is an old soul. To us, he’s always possessed the understanding, empathy, and kindness of someone with more life experience.

As a youngster he always shared his toys. He was comfortable with rules, and sometimes, as I explained things to him, he eyed me suspiciously, as if to say: Of course we don’t write on walls, or touch hot pots on the stove, or stick fingers in electrical sockets. Of course, we don’t bite our friends. Or push them. Duh.

Over the years, I’ve complained when he’s been overlooked for awards. It kills me each Friday when his middle school publishes its list of “Great Kids of the Week,” and his name never makes the list. Meanwhile, he doesn’t care. He tells me he doesn’t need his name announced over the loudspeaker or his picture posted in the hallway. He knows about his good deeds, and that’s enough. A stellar student, he doesn’t like me to mention his grades. When he was bullied in elementary school, he refused to retaliate. Even when his father and I gave him permission to kick the bastard who was bugging him in his cahones, our son told us he believed in nonviolence. Like Gandhi. How did he even know about Gandhi in 5th grade? Though middle school can be an unhappy time as teens jockey for popularity, Tech has maintained a core group of smart, kind people who are loyal to each other.

Our son has never been interested in material things.

He has simple requests.

A bed.

A book.

A rocking chair.

A slice of pie.

That one single silver strand of hair on his head confirmed it for me: proof positive that my kid is an old soul — unusually understanding, wise and empathetic beyond his years.

Don’t get me wrong: he’s a teenager, too. He eats constantly, hates putting away his laundry, and making his bed. He laughs at dumb YouTube videos and would play Minecraft all day, if we let him.

But he knows how to talk me down when ants are crawling across the kitchen floor. Or tonight, while I held my stomach as I listened to the news, crammed with voices, the President talking about justice and violence and terror — again.

This is the world I brought you into, my son. A world where things are always breaking. And nothing is solid.

But he has the right words. Reminds me that most people are good people. That G-d hears prayers and love transcends zip codes and time zones.

“Kinda makes you realize your necklace wasn’t such a big deal,” he said.

What will I ever do without him?

Have you ever lost a sentimental something? Do you put on a strong front for your children? Or do you let them see you cry?

tweet me @rasjacobson

79 responses to “When Your Kid Is Smarter Than You Are

  1. That’s a wonderful story. And not even a story, because it’s true. Great son, great parents!

  2. Wow, your son sounds like a great kid and a lot wiser than me😉

  3. This my favourite post of all time!!

  4. I am struggling a bit with my response. I do let my children see me cry, and I try my hardest to let my vulnerability show through. Especially with my boys. I want them to know that it is OK for men to cry. I also very much want my children to grow up to be empathetic and compassionate souls. Your TechSupport is totally that child. Love this post, Renee.

    • Thanks, Naomi. I think my son is starting to see me as weak and needy. That’s a lot to put on a kid. I worry about this sometimes. But he is a compassionate soul, and if it helps him to deal with some chick when she is totally PMS one day? My hysteria will have been worth it. Oy.

  5. Wow. Imagine what a good man he’ll be for his wife one day.

    • Right, Jim. That’s my plan. If he can deal with his crazy mother now, well, he should be able to handle his whack-a-doodle wife one day. Hopefully, he’ll find a wonderful life partner who supports him emotionally, too.😉

  6. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    Aren’t you lucky you have him? And isn’t he lucky he has you? Because he wouldn’t be who he is without his parents, and they wouldn’t be who they are now without their son.

    Your story brought a tear to my eye. Reminds me of how valuable our relationships with others are, especially our children.

    Wayne

    • Wayne: It’s crazy. I hear these storys: Newtown and the bombs in Boston, shootings in Toronto and Aurora movie theaters and I think: My son is so good. I worry about this heart. I want to protect it. But, of course, I ship him off to overnight camp each summer for 7 weeks, and he seems to hold his own, so… maybe he isn’t as innocent as I think. I assume he knows how to work those bunk dynamics, too.

  7. You can be forgiven. Just don’t drop the pie too, OK ?

  8. I am so not trying to earn I’m-sorry-I-haven’t-visited-in-a-while brownie points when I tell you your son sounds amazing. Besides, if you showed the comments him, he’d likely shrug, say “you wrote it, I didn’t”, and take another bite of pie.

    Of all the poignant and funny stories I’ve read about kids, this one now tops my list.

    Vacationing in Florida? Son sitting in a new rocking chair? Does this mean your get-away home is finished? If yes, ska-weeeeet! Best intentions sat back, crossed its arms and let procrastination take the game when you posted the picture of your rug. I love it! It’s so vibrant and alive. BONUS! I’ll bet it would be perfect for an impromptu game of Twister.

    Have your son put down his pie, move his rocking chair, and modify a twister spin wheel with symbols from your rug. ‘kay?

    • Hahahahaha! Gloria, if by “finished,” you mean we now have beds and a couch and a rug and plates and cutlery and drinking glasses, then yes, we are finished. It’s going to take a long time before this place is “finished.” But it is user-friendly. One day we’ll get some window treatments. You know, so we stop grossing out the neighbors.

  9. What a beautiful post. What a great, smart son you have! I gave my daughter my great-grandmother’s walnut bed to use for her daughter. The thing was important to me. It was well over 150 years old–older than dirt and hand-made. Well, one night it collapsed under my granddaughter. It had outlived its usefulness. It was time to let go of it despite how much I loved it. The headboard (a huge solid piece of walnut) and the footboard are still in her garage but it needs slats (they broke). I doubt they will ever be replaced and nobody wants a double bed anymore. So for me it was time to let go of my great-grandmother’s wedding bed. I can understand your pain at the demise of your pendant. But your son is oh so wise. You are so lucky to have him. Hold him close.

    • Maire: Don’t get rid of it. Slats can be purchased at a Lowes — and yes yes yes people do want double beds. My son sleeps in a twin at home. When he was offered the opportunity for a bigger bed, he refused saying his bed was cozier. I’m telling you, someone would buy that bed.

      But of course, this post isn’t about the stuff. I’m so glad your granddaughter got to sleep in the 150 year old bed that your great-grandmother used with her own daughter. That is beyond special. Beyond.

  10. Such a wise young man you’re blessed with. Lovely story to hear this morning. Thank you.🙂

    • Thanks, Ellen. I started to write about this in Florida– after the necklace cracked into three pieces and lots of little shards. I didn’t know how to fiish it. Last night, when Tech referenced it again. It all came together, and I stayed up (too) late to cobble it together. I’m so grateful that you came over to read it. When will I learn to write a shorter post?

  11. Your son is amazing. He is so much of what I hope for my son who is about TS’s opposite in every way.

    He said just the right thing too.

    ((HUGS))

  12. i cried. i love your son.

  13. Well damn. This made me cry. Again. I’m not sure I have many tears left at this point. There has to be some sort of limit, right?

    Your son is indeed an old and wise soul. He has an inner strength that most lack, even as adults. You are very fortunate to have raised such a caring and compassionate young man. I am sorry about your necklace. I have broken or lost many pieces of jewelry that were significant to me in some way. But your son is right . . . you don’t need an object to think of him. He will always be in your thoughts and heart. It was a beautiful necklace, though. Shame.

    • Misty! I wish you had a chance to meet him in person. It’s so hard to explain. He’s like a 98-year old Jewish man in the body of a 13-year old boy. Seriously, what 13-year old wants a rocking chair? When I was 13, I wanted to go to the beach, slather myself in baby oil and walk around in my bathing suit. I didn’t want my parents to come with me. In fact, I would have preferred to go on vacation with someone else’s family. You know how that goes. My kid? Soooo content to just BE in the moment. Maybe he is Ghandi? You think?

  14. I love your kid. And this is the type of story I needed to read this morning.

  15. Beautiful post.🙂

  16. Ya’ got a good kid there.

    • Hi Madge. He really is. You’ll have to meet him someday. He’s the 13 year old who sounds like a 98-year-old Jewish man. Someday, we should drop him off at the Summit. I think some of his best friends could be elderly men. Wait, that sounds creepy…

  17. Dalia Sobol-Ratner

    Beautiful post.

  18. Beautiful. Makes me think about the person (or as I think of her…the evil vampire thief) who stole my engagement ring right off the counter in the bathroom of an Italian restaurant when we were celebrating our anniversary. I took it off to wash my hands (don’t ask me why), turned to dry my hands and she picked it up and walked out and straight out the door of the restaurant. The owners were so upset they paid for dinner. In the scale of things it’s nothing. So I let it go. Almost.

  19. Thanks Renee. You did it again. Magnificence!!!

  20. He sounds like a great kid. You have to take some of the credit. Wonderful story.

  21. Love this post, Renee! Really beautiful. We’ve long called both our girls “old souls” for many of the same characteristics you described in Tech. (C’s first gray hairs–she has a cluster of about 6–showed up when she was around 5. My pediatrician teased me about “stressing her out.” I like old soul much better.)

    I didn’t see either of my parents cry much when I was growing up–not when my sister was placed on the transplant list or their parents died, or my uncle, or …And, crying over things lost was simply acceptable. I learned that when I was 7 years old and lost my purse with a brand new walled and one whole dollar in it at the bowling alley. Stiff upper lip, and all that.

    The first time I saw my mom cry, really cry, in a primal way, was the night my dad died. It hit me then that I wanted to teach my girls that it is OK to mourn but not to stay in a place of mourning, whether our loss is a material item, a loved one, or the end of a season in our lives. In many ways, my children have been the better teachers.

    Loss, of any kind, can be tough to handle, but it is a part of life. We hold things for a season, and often loss is a way of making room for new things/beginnings.

    • I agree with you. It’s okay to mourn as long as we don’t linger there too long. Words to live by. Thank you. I would hate for him to have to be my rock. That’s a lot of pressure for a little guy. (Or a younger guy who’s taller than his mother, but you know what I mean.)

  22. You have a VERY special child- which you know. And you’ve also done a great job raising him based on what you’ve said.🙂

  23. Love this post, Renee. Love your son! Kids like that are the reason that hope for the future still exists even in the face of tragedies like yesterday. Thanks for sharing Tech with us!

  24. Reminds me of my 4 yo. I hope your son can stay the kind and compassionate old soul throughout his teenage years. Isnt it wild the things we learn from our young offspring. Gives me hope in a time of need.

  25. This is lovely! And your son reminds me so much of my son. There’s nothing like having a smart, sweet boy.

    • I love to hear that there are so many gentle, kind boys out there in the world. The trick is keeping them that way so they grow up to be strong men with gentle hearts. So far, so good on this end. Fingers crossed for both of our sons.

  26. Sounds like a terrific kid. You’re very lucky.

  27. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He has a wonderful mother and, I assume, a wonderful father also, since you picked him.

  28. A wise old soul indeed, that TechSupport. Where do they come up with this stuff? My mom says that certain children have a direct line to heaven, and they just bust out the wisdom, for our benefit. Because it is confusing and scary to be an adult and a mommy (hello, there are BRIDGES out there. That we have to drive over), so I guess we can use some divine assistance via our children sometimes. I know I appreciate it.

    • You know I’m with you about that bridges thing. But somehow, they help us make it over them, don’t they? They really do. Your post really helped me this week. It helped to know it’s okay not to be devastated. It’s okay to mourn the loss of life but then rejoice in continuing to live. Thank you for that.

  29. Great post! Sounds like a kid who is well grounded which will go a long way in life. I let my kids see me cry all the time, during movies, during events like happened yesterday, whatever gets it flowing. I’m not trying to prove anything to them by showing that guys can cry too, but in the long run, maybe that’s something important for them to see.

    • Well, it’s not like I’m Dawn on Survivor or anything, weeping every second. But I do have my moments. Like when I look at photo albums. Or watch Shawshank Redemption for the 9 millionth time. Okay, I guess maybe I’m a weeper. Maybe I need to think about that. I don’t want the kid to think he has to be my rock. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid.

  30. Your boy – he’s a gift. Truly. I know that you cherish him, but I thank you for sharing him with all of us, out here. xo

  31. excellent. Some times we need a child to explain the big things in life. Good job mom😉

  32. Awwww!! I’m so teary eyed right now! What an amazing young man you have raised!

    The world needs more of those!

    Hugs!

    Valerie

    • You’re telling me I made you tear up? Val, you are like…the Queen! Thank you so much. And he is a mensch. (If you don’t know what that is, Google it.) But you’re so right, the world needs more old souls. They see the big picture when the rest of us get caught up in the dumb ole details.

  33. I’m glad you have him! I’m too attached to things myself, and like you I associate them with people or special times. It’s hard for me to let go emotionally, but I know that Tech is right. I do like that kid🙂

  34. You not only have an old soul, you have a wise one. There is a subtle difference.

  35. I’m crying, Renee. What a kid, what a mom, what a story. Beautiful – and just what my heart needed tonight. xoxo

    • Mary, I tweeted your piece. I’m glad you had your toes done. We don’t have to be ruined by these events. We really don’t. That means the bad guys win. We can mourn and then go on and do our normal things — like getting those toes painting — because that means life goes on. Maybe you can remember to paint your toes green every year at the time of the Boston Marathon. Just to remember that even when horrible things happen, there are always good people around to help. Always more good people than bad. I believe that.

  36. What a beautiful written piece about your wonderful son. He is one of a kind. I love that he is a rules man. He is a true gift from g-d. Treasure and cherish him.

  37. Your son is a beautiful old soul, loving and peaceful. What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing this story, it is a reminder of how precious our relationships to our children are.

  38. Wow … just WOW! I’m not one for leaving lengthy comments … none of mine would ever be as superb as yours! I hope you are saving these particular posts for your son because they are priceless. I also hope you saved that beautiful glass. Take it to a silversmith and get it set into a pendant again, that will last forever … as will the love you have shared here. Thanks once again, Renée, for taking us into such private places in your heart!
    p.s. I’m excited about lunch today too! I’m in Orlando and Amber West is coming to the hotel … in the flesh! Woohoo!

    • Patricia: Thank you for your kind words. I thought you were in France, but then I saw a tweet that you got to meet Amber! I am beyond jealous! She is one of my FAVES — as you know! But I’m hoping to meet up with her this summer. And, of course, I missed you in Orlando by 1 week. LOL! Will we ever get it together?

  39. I think I’ve just discovered one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read. I don’t even have children and yet this post touched my heart in a way I would never have thought possible. Thanks Renee, for warming so many hearts and giving people a reason to smile.

  40. My daughter O made me a neckerchief slide for my scout uniform and I couldn’t find it and was freaking out! I re-traced my steps but couldn’t find it. I was upset because it meant to something to me. It was nothing – a PVC pipe segment with a sticker wrapped around it – but she made it at a scouting event and gave it to me. I wear it often. Fortunately, I found it the next day – it had fallen into the back of the car and I couldn’t find it in the dark. I was glad and I think O was, too. It is those little gifts that make the biggest impression. I always enjoy reading your posts! Thanks.

    • Clay. I love this story of the neckerchief slide. That’s exactly what I was looking for, those little remembrances — little things that don’t have any really monetary value but you treasure. I’m soooo glad you found it. And I’m sure your daughter could tell how much it meant to you. That is LOVE right there, mister. I think you should take your comment and turn it into a post! *hint hint*

  41. Love, love, love this post. Can’t wait to digest more of your blog.

  42. Hi Renee, I stumbled across your blog when I visited Catie Rhodes and have enjoyed my visit here. Sounds like you have a great, mature, intelligent son. Be proud ! If you still have the pieces of the pendant, super glue works wonders for those things and if you’re really careful, the break will hardly be noticeable. (done it many times for my wife). Best to you. I’ll be back to visit again.
    Paul

    • Hi Papa Bear! Nice to meet you! My husband has glued the back on this thing many times. SuperGlue was my friend. Though you can’t tell from the photo, my pendant lost a lot of tiny pieces when it fell on the tile floor: minute shards that were just too small to pick up and had to be thrown out. The 3 pieces can’t be glued together again. It’s okay. There are 3 of us in our family, and I’ll hold onto the 3 pieces. I just can’t wear it as a necklace anymore. And given all the atrocities of this week — bombings in Boston and explosions in Texas — I was happy to reminded that things are just that. I still have my peeps.

  43. This is a gorgeous, gorgeous post, Renée. My immediate thought was “if techsupport ever has any kids, he’s going to be an absolutely brilliant dad to them.”

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