Sharpest Tool in the Shed

Yesterday, as I walked into the living room after work, Oliver greeted me with a question. I did something I typically don’t like others doing to me. I answered his question with a question.

Oliver: “Mommy, can I have permission to watch FGTeeV?”

Me: “Are you done with school?”

Oliver: “Yes, I am!”

Me: “Ok, so tell me first what you learned in school today.”

Oliver: “I learned that I should… change shirt every day… and…”

He looked at me with big twinkling eyes and a shy smile. Knowing my son, this means, he had already forgotten what he’s learned for the day. Mind you, we homeschool and it had only been a few hours since class had been over.

Earlier in the day, while inside my home office, I vaguely heard Hubby’s passionate tone. I couldn’t make out what he was saying but I could tell he was “lecturing”. I went to see what was going on. He was having a serious conversation with Oliver about keeping himself tidy. Oliver was holding a napkin in his hand.

Hubby explained that Oliver was having a hard time focusing with school stuff. And since he got impatient, the child started crying. When he went to get the napkin, he blew his nose and then wiped his face with the same napkin. So now that the crying was over, it was an opportunity to teach him how to clean up his face properly. I thought to myself, “Oh good. Nothing major. Just the typical father-and-son/teacher-student conversation”. I try not to interfere a lot because I want to be respectful of Hubby’s role as the primary teacher. So I went back to work.

I do enjoy asking Oliver how school was. Although, I have learned that the quality of answers I get will always vary. It can literally range from mind blowing to mind boggling to hilarious to nonsensical. But, Oliver is only six years old. He’s a child. For the most part, focused conversations can be difficult especially at a time when he’s supposed to be having fun and relaxing.

Later that night, while Hubby and I were watching TV, I asked Hubby if he thought Oliver wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Hubby looked at me and said, “Yeah, sometimes.” And after hearing that, it hit me – Oliver may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but my goodness, for the things that he enjoys and are interested in – he shines so bright!

Oliver can read very well. He can retell stories of FGTeeV videos. He can tell you about Dinosaurs all day long. He can figure out Nintendo Games where I (as an adult) cannot even make sense of it. He will do things to help us without us asking. He can spell, and write, and draw. He’s pretty good with math too. He dreams of one day owning a family restaurant. He can recite dialogues of his favorite anime’s or shows and be lost in his own imaginative world where he’s a super fighter. So what if he forgot what he learned from school today? So what if our conversations take a detour every once in a while?

As parents, it is very tempting and often easy to set expectations of our children. We want (and expect) them to do well. But in reality – what does doing well mean? Is it so bad to not be the sharpest tool in the shed? Honestly, I’d like Oliver to just keep being a kid. And even if he doesn’t grow up “smart” by societal or academic definition – as long as he grows up with faith in God and kindness in his heart – I will be the happiest mother. I know in my heart, this boy will make me proud in ways that truly matter.

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