When Mrs. Happy and I lived in Texas, we had an opportunity one day to visit
a traveling art exhibit at the Amon
Carter Museum in Fort Worth.
The exhibit explored the personal and artistic ties
between Picasso and Matisse. At one point during our tour, I was examining
one of Matisse’s masterpieces when a young man holding a baby approached and
a foot away from the painting. I thought it strange that he wanted to examine
the painting that closely, but I thought it even more strange that he seemed
more interested in the baby than in Matisse. I heard a female voice behind
me say, obviously through clenched teeth, "What…are…you…doing?!"
The young man looked up from the baby, slightly startled. He looked confused,
but said, "I’m getting him close so he can see the colors." The woman quickly
stepped forward and grabbed him firmly by the sleeve. "No!" she said, yanking
her husband several feet and screaming quietly at him while trying unsuccessfully
to not draw any attention. "At three months he can see the colors fine from
six feet away."
I couldn’t believe
Here were two young parents hoping to stimulate their baby’s brain and pave
his neural pathway to artistic genius simply by exposing him to two twentieth-century
masters. As if that would do anything. What a couple of freaks, I thought.
I gave the woman credit for at least having the presence of mind to be embarrassed
but still—what a freak.
Since then, I’ve seen parents pushing their kids into insane activities. I’ve
heard of parents doing even more insane things before their babies are even
born just so that the kids will grow up brilliant and talented. I have always
rolled my eyes (inwardly, at least) at such shenanigans. Let children be children,
I think. There’ll be plenty of time for accomplishments later.
So I’m sorry to say that I’m slowly becoming one of "those" parents. Oh, my
child will redefine brilliance and talent. He will be the neural surgeon/architect/novelist/triathlon
champion/concert pianist that the world has been anticipating ever since Thomas
Jefferson and Leonardo Da Vinci failed to live up to their true potential.
He will be the superhero who calls himself Renaissance Man. And I’m
not just trusting in genetics for this. I have strategies for building mind,
and irrational that I will not speak them aloud for fear of derision and
laughter from friends and
passers-by, on top of the inevitable objections from my own wife. I’m afraid I will have to execute my plan in secret. I, at least,
have the presence of mind to be embarrassed about the whole thing.