Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Becoming Stupider. Stupider? StupidIER? Gah!

There's a finite amount of knowledge in the world. This is a good thing. It implies that, with enough time and dedication, it's possible to know everything. I like this kind of goal. It's lofty. And big. And, strangely enough, it wouldn't be my first time in this here rodeo. I've already been the smartest person in the world once in my life. It was about the same time that my parents were the dumbest people in the entire universe. Good thing I was there to tell them all the things they were doing wrong. How did they manage before me?

Then a few years later -- the universe does love its balance -- my parents suddenly became overnight geniuses and maybe I stopped learning or something, because they totally caught up with my brilliance. They must have spent my college years reading. A lot.

After college, I kept up my learning at a pretty good pace. Lots of books, newspapers, documentaries. The Learning Channel is super handy for all that learning stuff. And then I had kids. And learned that, while there may be a finite amount of knowledge in the world, there's also a finite amount of room in my brain.

And I've spent the greater portion of the last dozen or so years mastering things that I already knew. The alphabet, colors, letters and shapes. Where Thumbkin Is. What says "baa" and "moo" and "neigh" and where my nose and eyes and ears are. Which means that basically any new information since 1999 has blissfully skittered past me and into the welcoming brains of people who don't go about their day singing "The Wheels On The Bus" and getting upset when we [Editor's Note: OK...me. -Kate] can't remember what the people on the bus do.

Now I'm about as smart as my hair dryer.

Lefty had a test on the Sioux Indians last week. I spent all that time learning about their crops and their homes and their contributions to the world, which surprisingly didn't include the silent X to go hang out with silent K and silent G. That bothered me a little. For that matter, I was a little annoyed they didn't take credit for the silent I and O as well. At the end of the week, Lefty came home with a really good grade, even though he got marked down for spelling their name as "Su" which may or may not have been my psychosis fault influence.

McGee also had a test on dividing decimals. I'll admit it - I became that parent that said, "Really? You just never use this in real life. The last time I divided decimals was when I was your age. Maybe on the SAT, but that also has multiple choice." I also may have told her that B is her best option when she has to guess on a multiple choice test. [THAT I remember from college. When I was doing all that learning and busy being the smartest person in the world. It's a statistical fact. It's also a statistical fact that I failed Statistics.] She reported that back to her teacher. Teachers don't really appreciate it when parents say things don't have a practical use in the world. But, to be fair, I've made the same argument about Ryan Seacrest.  

I told McLovin all about it that night, about fractions and the Su Indians and then he says "So, Lindsay's going to jail, huh?"


Me: Lindsay who?
McLovin: You know, that [censored] one with the [censored] and who [censored censored].
Me: You mean Lindsay --uhhh. Lindsay --the hell is wrong with me?
McLovin: Yeah, her. The [good Maude I can't repeat any of this part].
Me: I can't remember her last name!
McLovin: So what.
Me: This is information that. I. am. losing. because I'm busy having to recall useless stuff about adobe buildings and long division. [plops down on bed] This is disturbing. I'm not getting any new information to replace the stuff I'm sluffing off.  
McLovin: So, why don't you go get an US Weekly?
Me: GAH! Because, what if I pile too much information in about the Grammys or something and then forget how to drive? What if I've hit the apex of information my brain can hold? And everything I learn from now forward means I lose something else?
McLovin: Oh, you know, I think that's called something. I read about it in the N--
Me: NO! Don't tell me anything new! We have no idea what could be lost. My pin number on my debit card. Our phone number. [gasp!] I could forget my shoe size or something.
McLovin: You're being ridiculous. And you could look at your shoes.
Me: And then what would I forget, if I relearned that?
McLovin: Well, I'd like to forget this conversation. Can you learn enough to make that happen?

The past week I've avoided reading the paper or watching the news. Happy had a little song he learned in school and wanted to teach me, but I was afraid that I'd forget something really good. And the problem is, I won't know what little tidbit fell out of my brain until someday when I have dinner guests over and I have to ask someone what goes into a Gin & Tonic. 

Is this how it happens? Our kids come home and say "Guess what! We learned that it rains for at least an hour every day in the rain forest!" and then we suddenly can't mouth along every word to "Sixteen Candles" anymore? I spent quality hours learning that whole movie, and it's just going to get wiped out with one little ditty about the rain forest?

Look brain, I worked long and hard to gather this vast empire of trivia and superfluous facts about starlets, hair and footwear. The percentage of that information I'm willing to give up just to know what quadratic equations are hovers around -- let's see, carry the four, subtract seven, that gives us...OK got it. - zero percent.

I think I just forgot how to tie my shoes. Good thing my children are about to become the smartest people in the universe. I imagine they'll be telling me all about it in about two hours.

Right after I finish watching "Sixteen Candles." 

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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