Skinny-fat. You’ve heard the term? It’s when you fit into your skinny jeans but you barely have enough muscle to pull them up over your tiny rear end. So you are skinny, but you’re fat too, sort of. (Yeah I know, I get stuck on the part where I fit into my skinny jeans too, as if anything matters after that! My youngest is 4 and I just lost the baby weight. But you get the idea.)
Smart-stupid is the same concept. I am smart-stupid. I seem smart because I know a little about a lot of things and because I use big words to distract people from noticing my lack of intrinsic cognition pertaining to convoluted and/or academic discourse. See. (This is useful at parties and work-related functions. And by useful, I mean people usually stop talking to me because they think I’m smarter than they are or a big fat jerk.) Too much fat, not enough muscle.
My practical knowledge is limited, but I use it to the best of my ability. I can tell my boys which paint colors to mix to get fuchsia (and yes, Goofus loves fuchsia). I can make anything out of cardboard and duct tape. I can, and do, answer all the “where do babies come from?” questions. (My 6 year-old, Goofus, has a better understanding of the female menstrual cycle than some men I’ve dated.) I teach them how to cook and give their bodies proper nutrition. And I will always be able to help them write term papers or analyze a piece of literature. That pretty much sums up my smarts. My stupids cover a lot more ground.
My stupids leave me powerless against Goofus and Doodlebug’s endless questions about life, liberty, and the pursuit of total chaos. I am especially inept when it comes to questions about science. I like the idea of science and I’m grateful for many of its discoveries and inventions. I’m super stoked about electricity (hey look, I’m using some right now!) and I enjoy the clean water that comes out of my faucets. I also like gravity; I have a hard enough time putting away laundry without it floating all over the place! So yeah, science is good stuff. But I’m not very interested in how it works. In high school I passed biology because I shared a table with 3 guys who did their homework and all of my labs. (Don’t read that last sentence to your children…or my parents.)
When my kids ask how rain and sunlight make rainbows, my best answers are: “Magic” or “No one really knows.” Ditto for, Where does electricity come from? and How do airplanes stay in the air? I don’t feel guilty about these lies. I’ve tried being honest. Honesty doesn’t fly:
Doodlebug: “Mama, why do giraffes have brown spots?”
Me: “I don’t know, Honey.”
Doodlebug: “Why, Mama?! Why!? Tell me!!”
Me: “Honey, I don’t know. I don’t know means I can’t tell you the answer because I don’t know the answer.”
Doodlebug: “Tell me, Mama! You have to tell me RIGHT NOW!!”
Me: *sigh* “It’s magic; fairies put them there.”
Doodlebug: “Oh yeah. Magic!” (Big smile.)
So I don’t feel guilty. Besides, I am a mom who wants my kids to believe in magic, woodland fairies and the easter bunny. I’m not into organized religion, but I like the idea that there are forces we can’t explain at work in the universe. Some things are just better without explanation, like jokes…and chicken nuggets. Besides, as they grow up my boys will find plenty of other reasons to think I’m an idiot. Mommy is perfect is one illusion I don’t want to create.