When I was in grade school, they made us all take an IQ test, and I scored at a genius level, way above the so-called genius mark. I didn't know about it until I got to college, when my father showed me the report and then asked me why my college grades were so poor.
I tell this story as background to you and a reminder to me, because according to my family, I am really, really stupid.
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My kids tell me I am stupid all the time. Not in a mean way, more in a "I can't believe what you just did (or said)" way.
I am not offended, because I know they don't mean to offend me. Often, I am amused, because my stupidity is really nothing more than being a dad. There are times in which I am intentionally "stupid." If I talk to any of my kid's friends, what I say is always stupid, according to my kids, even if it is little more than a hello. And sometimes, because I am who I am, I go out of my way to be "stupid." I don't mind embarrassing my children in front of their friends, as a payback to the fact my kids are embarrassed by me.
That'll teach them.
But much of my stupidity is inadvertent, and often resulting from a lack of information.
Thankfully, my wife, Janice, usually makes the kids' lunches, because when I do it, I always make a stupid mistake. I apparently do not get the memo when my daughters switch from liking goldfish to hating them, or preferring Ruffles to Lays.
"Dad, I don't eat that!!" I hear. "You are so stupid."
I'm stupid about technology, although I personally think I handle technology updates pretty well. I make my mistakes with technology referencing more than anything else.
I rarely take photographs with my cell phone, because, as I tell my kids, I don't know how to call them up. "Call them up" is the term I use, and it comes from the early days of my computer life, when I had to "call up"' stories or information from computer files.
Apparently, the kids today don't "call it up." I don't know what they do, terminology-wise; I just know that my terminology is wrong, and I am therefore "stupid."
I'm really stupid about clothing. My son, Dan, does not wear a belt, although he has one, and his jeans droop in the back, so that the whole world knows he wears boxers and not briefs. When I suggest he wear his belt, I am told I am stupid, because, "Nobody wears a belt."
That kind of statement makes me want to go to school and take belt attendance. All I need is one to put a hole in Dan's story, and I can throw that "stupid'' remark right back in Dan's stupid face.
When it comes to the girl's clothes, I am beyond stupid. I am a moron because I can't tell Haley's white T-shirt from Lindsey's white T-shirt. I'm stupid because I don't know which Uggs are Haley's Uggs and which ones are Lindsey's, and I 'm stupid because I want Kyle to wear a sweatshirt on a cold day when "everybody" is going to school without a jacket of any sort.
I'm stupid about modern music. About this, I do not care.
There are two examples of my stupidity that are most important to me.
I am "stupid'' about time. I admit to having a pathological need to be early wherever I go. I always assume I will run into a freight train, even if my planned route does not intersect any tracks.
But I temper this need when dealing with my kids because I know it bothers them. When we get someplace early, I was "so stupid'' to make them leave the house before it was necessary.
However, they also hate to be late to things that matter (practices, movies, school functions), and if something happens that makes them late, it is always because I was "stupid'' to leave too late.
The fact is (and don't tell them this when you speak to them) I don't mind teaching them the value of proper time management and the need to be respectfully timely. They need to know there could always be a freight train.
The other most significant moment of stupidity that matters is when I really am stupid.
Haley, a high school junior, was studying for her American history test last week, and she sat in my home office with me and we studied together. I was stunned, happily, to find out that she knows WAY more than I ever did on the subject of the American presidency, and I was once interested in being an American history teacher.
"How could you not know that?" Haley asked when I admitted surprise at a fact about FDR.
So, for the moment, I felt a little stupid. But it was the good kind of stupid.
• Kent McDill is a freelance writer. He and his wife, Janice, have four children, Haley, Dan, Lindsey and Kyle.