Nancy Roman

Smart Is Smart

Everyone always says how they are constantly amazed by children.

Everyone but me. I almost never say that.

Oh yeah, I think kids are cute and say cute things. Except of course when they are bratty and say bratty things.

But for the most part they are predictable. Kids learn, and when they learn something, it’s kind of cool the way you can actually see the light bulb going on over their heads. And I admit that it’s also cool to watch them interact and try to figure out grownups.

But there is a universality in children that you must admit sometimes loses its ability to inspire awe. I mean, EVERY parent thinks her kid is amazing…and most people watching think “not so much.”

We were all kids once and learned to talk and dress ourselves and read and count and not pee in our pants.

And your kids learns that. Wonderful. He’s normal, not a genius.

Once in a while though, I am impressed.

Last night my husband and I joined our friends in that classiest of entertainment – the Demolition Derby.  I had been there was before (Renaissance Woman) and surprised myself by enjoying it tremendously. It’s not the ballet. But in it’s own way it’s almost as good.

Next to me on the bleachers was a young boy and his buddy. This kid was maybe eleven. The age at which most adults start to dislike even their own kids. But for some reason, I’ve always liked pre-teens. They are able to have a real conversation with you, but are still young enough to have interesting opinions.

He was a pretty big kid – chunky and red-cheeked. And loud. He loved the demo derby  – and knew a lot about cars and destruction.

This was a Double Figure Eight Race  – a combination race and demolition derby – with six to eight cars in each round racing around the track in a kind of DNA helix pattern – which lends itself to smash-ups as they cross paths. The winner of each round then goes to the finals. And after the finals, they just completely demolish each other in a last-car-standing free-for-all.

And this kid picked the winner in almost every round. A couple of laps in, he’d say to his buddy:  “Number 24 can really drive – he’ll win!” Or “Look at how Number 41 takes those corners.” Or “Sixty-five is on his rims, he’ll never last – sixty-six will pass him for sure.”

If I had been able to spot a bookie (I’m sure they were there, but how the hell do I know what they look like?) – I would have jumped up after each prediction by this kid and put some money down. Maybe I’d have even bought the kid a hot dog.

I believe that SMART has three components: Knowledge, Observation, and Imagination. The ability to draw accurate conclusions from what you see and what you know.

And this kid had it in spades. He knew cars, he watched the drivers, he evaluated the situations. And he knew who would win. Round after round.

That kind of SMART can be applied to everything.

Just from sitting next to him for an hour, I can draw my own conclusion:  That kid will make good informed decisions his whole life.

It was all I could do not to ask him:

“Hey kid, I just heard some disconcerting news about my doctor, and now I am questioning my diagnosis. Would you be available for a second opinion?”

After all.




  1. Forrest knew the opposite to be true with ‘Stupid is, as…’ Why not run the equation the other way? You are on to something.
    Dan in Chicago


    • I think we may have a lot more experience with Stupid than with Smart.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with your three components of “smart”. And knowledge isn’t always the most important of the three.


  3. LLove this! Thanks for sharing. You are a gifted writer.


  4. Dana

    Smarter than me!


    • I hope that kid realizes how smart he is, and doesn’t squander it!


  5. The kids that impress me these days are the ones that are polite, kind, repectful and not spoiled. Most of the kids (other than your derby savant) all know the same stuff, can do the same stuff and are all spoiled rotten and wouldn’t give an adult the time of day. I’ve spent time with a ten year old and and a twelve year old (different families) recently that impressed the hell out of me. I don’t know what their parents are doing but they’ve got it right.


  6. Andrew

    I used to be a Boy’s Brigade leader years ago and I agree under 10’s are worth listening to, cutting honest perceptive whatever but no b/s!


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