Thursday, March 05, 2009

My Brain Hurts


As well as having my own legal homework this week, I also edited my son’s university thesis intro paper. He had the presence of mind (and the diplomacy) to note in his request - “…just check for spelling and grammatical errors. I really have no idea whether you'll be able to understand what it's all about - hopefully I do a good enough job explaining it, but it may be pretty technical.”

Pretty technical??? It’s a bloody foreign language!

But I was damned if I was going to read his paper and not try to figure out what the hell he was talking about. I studied it as though I was preparing for an exam. Granted, I would have failed the exam, but still….

I was impressed beyond words (quite unlike me) with the content. My inner voice kept interrupting my concentration to shout – “My kid wrote this!” “My kid knows what he’s talking about!”

Meanwhile, I was struggling with just about every second sentence. Has my brain atrophied with age? Does the fact he’s a Science/Psych major and I was a History/English one excuse my bewilderment?

This experience was in no way similar to looking over those public or high school papers my kids wrote – wielding my red pen and leaving such comments as, “This is a HUGE run-on sentence – fix it!”

Nope. I was out of my depth with this one - although I valiantly tried to make sense of it all. Needless to say, I did not make any constructive criticism. I was afraid to touch a sentence for fear of inadvertently changing the meaning of it – a meaning I could barely grasp in the first place.

I am comforted by the flimsy (wishful thinking) belief that I can take some credit for the kid’s smarts. I did teach him how to read at the age of four…

And I’m just fine with the fact my son is obviously way beyond me in the I.Q. department. All my kids are – they now pass on their wisdom to me.

But, my god, I feel stupid. Although it’s an okay/acceptable kind of stupid. When it’s relative to your own kid’s intelligence, it’s not quite as painful to admit.

14 comments:

sherry lee said...

Thankfully it's only in their written academic communication that we don't understand what they're talking about!!! As long as we continue to communicate verbally, I'm good with it! :)

The Bodhi Chicklet said...

Full circle. You've done your mothering job well it seems.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Isn't it awesome to see what our grown kids can do. I just marvel at the places they go.

It is full circle when you learn from them.

In fact, I totally lurve it when my kids pass on their wisdom. Except for the nine-year-old.

Beth said...

sherry lee:
Amen to communicating with our children - always.

the bodhi chicklet:
You can only guide, teach, prompt and be there - the rest is up to them!

cheri:
I marvel at the places they go and the amazing people they've become.
And that nine-year-old of yours will go far!

oreneta said...

I had this happen to me too, I was reading a friend's master's thesis in chemical engineeering. She figured I was an artsy so would recognise a dangling participle if I saw one....what I didn't see was English. OMG! I had the faintest understanding of what was going on, but this was a totally different world of fluid dynamics and I know not what else....

Like you, I marked only the most glaring errors decisively, and then we went over the rest together. Luckily she is actually a very good writer despite her outlandish scientific ability....so it wasn't too much...*gasp*

VE said...

So what was the thesis on? Now I'm curious.

Beth said...

oreneta:
It's like entering a different world (with yet another foreign language!), isn't it? To join my son in "his" world, I'd have to go back to university for another four years!

ve:
Permission was granted to write about this with the stipulations - no name, no subject noted and no thesis title.
Let's just say it wasn't English or History!

Trish said...

Along with the technicalities of written English, you've also taught your kids to think.

Beth said...

trish:
You're right - and thank you for that wonderful reminder. I hope I've taught them to think with both their minds and their hearts.

Cheryl said...

Beth,
Your such a great mother, your boys reflect that, time and time again.
XXXXX

Seraphine said...

i never thought you were stupid. so take that thought right out of your head.
because if you spent several intense years studying a certain subject, you'd be there too. you'd soak it up like a sponge.
it isn't what you know that's important. it's the ability to find the answers when you need them.
you can do that.
and wow, your kids sound very special. i can read the pride in your voice.

Beth said...

cheryl:
And they show me what great kids they are - time and time again...

seraphine:
I am very proud of all three boys.
And I know I could "get" his thesis - with another 4 years of university, studying a new discipline and a with a re-charging of some dormant brain cells!
(Thanks...)

Beth said...

I am soooo with you on this one. My kidsa re all smarter than I am...and I'm kinda proud to be dumb when its in comparrison to them! did I spell that wrong?

Bee said...

My eldest daughter is only 14 and I haven't been able to help her with her math homework for quite a long time now!