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


  1. I'm with you on this one. For the life of me, I couldn't remember if there were 100 or 1000 centimeters in a meter the other day (so embarrassing). Had to look it up. Also, I keep telling my son (4th grade) that they are much more advanced than I was at the age of 10. Doesn't seem fair. They'll be beyond my HS grad requirements in about 3 years.

  2. The Donga Need Food.

  3. I totally forgot my pin number to my debit card and after 3 weeks gave up and got a new one. I had that same number for over 3 years. I get a new pin, look at the card once and that it is, normally. Now, after 3 years of use,*poof*, it's gone, and my little ones aren't old enough to be in school.

    I'm afraid.

  4. i had to google perpendicular lines for my eldest child yesterday. embarrasing.

  5. Sorry to add salt to the wound, but it's "Damn Mom! I got my HEADGEAR on". Ooops, now you just forgot your address...lol

  6. Oh, McLovin. Best. Comeback. EVER.

  7. I took an IQ test when my oldest was a year old. The results were embarrassing, like in the low 80s embarrassing. And I went to an academically rigorous school and graduated from college in three years. I used to be really, really smart. Now I'm lucky if I remember my kids' names.

  8. I also forgot my pin number recently. I looked like I had stolen my own card. When the cashier asked if I wanted to run the card as credit, I said to her, straight in the face : "What do you mean run as credit?"

    I need a nap.

  9. I'm the one who walks into a room and forgets what I needed in that room. I leave the room and remember, then I go back into the room and forget AGAIN. This happens several times before I actually am able to get the object. I used to blame pregnancy, then having a newborn and a toddler at the same time...now I can only blame myself.

  10. My husband makes fun of me for this constantly. I used to have a pretty good memory, then I had kids. Now, I will try to tell a story or explain where something is and the results are a long line of: it's in the place with the thingy at the whats it called" I'm no longer allowed to try and give directions to anywhere. :)

  11. When I was in high school, someone made me learn how to calculate the diameter of a circle. I could foresee no practical application or that information, especially since it was printed in lots of books where I could look it up later if I needed to know it. But I learned (or not. I did really bad in math.) it anyway because someone assured me it was important.

    Fast forward 10 years. I was studying for the GRE and got a question about calculating the diameter of a circle. I knew I once knew how to do it but I had forgotten because in the 10 years since I'd been forced to do it, I HAD NEVER ONCE NEEDED TO CALCULATE THE DIAMETER OF A DAMN CIRCLE!

    Now I realize that not only did all that math bring down my GPA in high school, but it probably also crowded out something really important like the name of Emilio Estevez's character in "The Breakfast Club". Fark.

  12. Brilliant! My husband and I are over 50 and we grasp for words like kids grasping for candy, guess I'll have to take up Suduko, if I can learn how to spell it.

  13. I've done the pin thing too. I had the same number for years and years, and one day I went to the ATM in the grocery store 4 kids in tow, and couldn't remember the number. I had to go into the bank and have it changed. I thought I'd remember the number 3 days later, but I didn't. It was just gone forever.

  14. Kate, remember that day I emailed you all worried because it took me 45 minutes to put together a 15 piece Elmo puzzle? Yeah. That was a *good* day. Becoming a mom made me a freakin' moron.

  15. I'm on my second MAT leave. I'm a 5th grade teacher when I go back to work. I'm so screwed.

  16. SO comforting to read all these comments!!! Clearly, I am in good company. Wait, what are we talking about?

  17. Oh, thank God I'm not the only one with this problem!

  18. Once, I was trying to find a business, and I called them twice, wandering in the street, because I couldn't find it. Turns out the problem was that I forgot that the even street numbers are on one side of the street and the odds are on the other. And I had this problem twice. Sigh.

  19. My husband says that I duped him. He thought I knew everything when we got married (how ironic). We now have 2 kids and he keeps trying to teach me all sorts of trivial facts about Def Leopard, the BG's and other "significant" music type stuff. If he keeps it up, I'll forget how to breathe one day.

  20. I find myself just saying a casual, "OK?" when someone brings up something in the news that EVERYONE seems to know. Like, "HEY! What do you think about Egypt?"
    Um. "OK?"

    How about the Republicans? CAN you believe that?

    You heard about that kid in Canada? Who would have believed that?

    It is my only weapon. And it sucks.
    --kate in michigan

  21. Kelly aka DivaMomMarch 8, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    I finally found out the clinical term of preganancy/childbearing absent-mindedness: DIPs.--Dumbness Induced by Pregnancy. Yep, I'm a DIP, I'm not afraid to say it. That, and husband and I were asses for naming our children with all "A" names, so it's really a sport trying to figure out which child to beckon to us. Great.

    Even better than that...my sister would chastise me for "forgetting" things when I was preggers. Cut to present day...she a new mommy of a now one-year old, and will often leave the house to take him to a sitter's withOUT a diaper bag. Oh I how *love* screaming "I-told-ja-so! and welcome to DIP-land!"

  22. Not the only one with the pin #? Awesome. After having the same pin number for 12 YEARS, I interrupted my husband in a meeting because I was at the pump, out of gas and forgotten the pin number.
    Whenever I cannot remember stuff, my daughter mocks me and tries to remind me to take some B complex vitamins. Really they REALY help. THe problem? I keep forgetting to take them....I will be an mindless ninny forever, I guess.

  23. Helping my 2nd grader has caused me to lose the names of those two funny women that sing awesome songs on youtube. It's forever gone as are all the names of the songs that made me laugh!

  24. When I was young, I never understood why my mom always said "Look next to the thingamajig under the blue thingamajig". I thought she was nuts! I don't know what thingamajig your talking about crazy! Well then I became a mom and find myself doing the exact same thing. Whenever you can't think of the proper name for something...insert "thingamajig". Works everytime!

  25. So glad I'm not the only one! Problem is, I can recall all of the kid stuff with total clarity (like all the words to the classic Winnie the Pooh songs, you know, important stuff), but all of the information relating to my work as a student and teacher goes away. Ever been in front of people, talking about something truly interesting and important then completely lose the ability to think and speak mid-thought? Yeah. My students so respect me after those moments...

  26. Kate - I gave up trying to remember what The People on the Bus do years ago. I just make up my own lyrics now. If they ever have to sing that song at preschool they are so screwed.

  27. Out of alllllll the bajillion tidbits of information that are buzzing around in my brain – ONE thing (OK – TWO things) I can never-for-the-life-of-me-remember are what size my kiddos’ feet(s) (LOL) are. Whenever I buy new shoes (or slippers – like I just did for Christmas) for them, I have to guesstimate based on what I *think* the measurements might have been last time we hit up a StrideRite and…………actually got their feet measured.




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