Friday, January 25, 2008

Ten Reasons Why My Children Are Smarter Than Me!

Today's list was inspired by my friend Chuck Sigars. His column appears weekly in our local paper, the Mukilteo Beacon. This week he wrote about our nostalgia for the simpler "black and white" days when we did not have to wear bike helmets and nobody worried about e coli. I suggest as he does that we are much safer today with a few more regulations and polio vaccine.


Frequently, I have thought about my potential. Both of my children are much smarter and more capable than I am when it comes to brain power. I heard the other night on TV, that intelligence is passed through the mother. I am not certain I believe that because genetics is complicated and huge numbers of DNA things combine from both male and female to create a new human being. But assuming this is true, I must have passed some good "smart" genes along.

Don't get me wrong. I was a good student and an early reader. I finished college in three years and made Law Review in law school. Still, I worked hard. My kids accomplish projects and tasks with little effort that I know would have been beyond me. What happened? Have they had better nutrition? No, I had a healthy diet as a kid....for the most part.

Here are my unusual suspects:

1. Could it have been the crusty reddish orange areas of mining and smelting waste in vacant places where I played near Deer Lodge while wearing shorts and a t-shirt ?

2. How about when I would eat duck, sage hen, pheasant, or goose and I would come across those little lead beebees stuck in my food only to be crunched unpleasantly in my mouth?

3. What about the lead smelter in East Helena I could see from my house spewing junk up into the air?

4. Maybe it was that pregnant women back in the 50's did not know they shouldn't smoke or drink alcohol?

5. Or what about the time I went flying down an icy hill on a toboggan and hit my head so hard that I was not sure I could remember my times tables?

6. Remember the Pepsodent toothpaste back then that came in easily squeezed lead tubes and sometimes when you smooshed it onto your toothbrush there would be streaks of gray?

7. Perhaps it was that my Dad was a science teacher and he would bring home mercury so we could play with it with our bare hands and observe its liquidness on our kitchen table?

8. In the middle of winter when garden vegetables were not available and frozen vegetables had not yet made their debut at the grocery stores, remember how we would eat all sorts of things out of "tin" cans made of who knows what melange of toxic metals?

9. And what about our little toys including soldiers and brightly painted trinkets with undoubtedly lead-based paint? Or the tinsel on the Christmas tree all silvery and shiny?

10. Yes, the culprit in my house? My Dad made his own lead sinkers for fishing. He had molds of all different sizes and the lead would melt in a small ladle on the kitchen stove in our small house with the low ceilings. On the kitchen table, he would pour the melted lead into the molds all while little Janet watched....and breathed......and watched as he opened the molds and then I would play with the bright new shiny sinkers of all different sizes with my bare hands.

Yep, the dangers of lead and the connection to learning disabilities and lower IQ's in children has been clearly established.

Who knows? If I had had a different childhood, I might be giving Hillary a little competition. Oh, wait a minute. Maybe it doesn't matter. I wonder if Barbara Bush bought Pepsodent toothpaste for her kids? I bet that's it.