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Why I Was a Brilliant Child
Everyone always oohs and awws over little children for everything they do. A child says its’ first word, it’s the next Einstein. A child draws something resembling modern art, it’s the next Claude Monet. They watch the child do something and say “oh look, she’s doing what any other child can do, except obviously better”. Now, they said this about me too but it was true and though I am now a cynical, grumpy almost adult, I still remember the days when I was a brilliant child.
I remember, for example, my third birthday where I pulled off an ingenuous plan. Almost a dozen hyper little acquaintances of mine played in a park with me while the adults chattered together about highly important things. I was quite happy; it was my day, after all, and three years was quite an accomplishment.
When it was time for the cake, my mother gathered all of us wild, sticky fingered, muddy faced savages from the wild woods of imagination. We gazed in anticipation at The Cake.
The Cake was more glorious than anything we had ever seen before, a halo of heavenly light shining around it. It had one layer, with a thick coating of the most chocolaty icing. We began to get hyper just by looking at the sugary monolith.
On top of The Cake, right in the very center, stood a rainbow colored number 3. I, being a brilliant child, saw immediately that this was the most desirable part of the cake and my mouth watered as I imagined my teeth sinking into the sugary 3D shape. But I also saw that I had to be cunning, for my equally ravenous peers would soon realize the same thing.
A genius plan entered my mind and over the clamour of a dozen sugar happy toddlers, I graciously told them they could have their piece of cake before me, pieces as big as they wanted. In fact, (I told them, trying to stifle my evil genius laugh), I didn’t even need a piece of cake at all. I would be satisfied with only the humble number 3.
I was their hero and they chanted my name as my mother cut out generous pieces of the coveted cake. Feigning modesty, I batted my eyelashes and like a sanctimoniously humble martyr, I finally stepped forward to receive the number 3.
My mother raised an unimpressed eyebrow at me but said nothing as she put the three on a plate for me and I slowly sat down in my place, pretending to be unaware of the impressed whispers around me. Waiting politely for the others to take a bite first, I then slowly raised the glorious number 3 to my mouth, trying to keep the triumphant look from my face.
I took my first bite, closing my eyes to properly enjoy the full experience of victory over far less intelligent children… and then my eyes opened in shocked horror and I stopped chewing. It did not taste of angel’s tears and unicorn’s breath as I had so looked forward to. It wasn’t remotely sweet at all, more like bitter chalk or…no…wax.
I spit out the lying, offensive substance and proceeded to cry for ten minutes straight, while the other children now viewed me as clearly a complete fool. But no, I knew I was brilliant; I had just out brilliance myself that day and soon, a chance to redeem myself arose.
We lived in a big city for the first few years of my life and when we felt adventurous (or just needed groceries do we wouldn’t starve), my mother and I would traverse the city sidewalks.
Now, a common conundrum that many children face is the evil intentions of shoe laces. Adults see them as harmless, practical pieces of string but children know better. When we run around freely in the wind as God intended, laces unlace themselves and wait maliciously for us to trip, fall, and bash our brains out on the pavement.
I had recently acquired new shoes and they had laces. I had heard all about laces from the other kids and had seen the destruction and tragedy they left in their wake. And when my mother gave me those new lace up shoes, I wouldn’t wear them, not foolish enough to tempt fate.
But one day, my mother told me we’d be going for a walk to the store and I had to put on my new shoes. Instead of turning into a lamb before the slaughter, I began to form a plan of attack against the offending string.
Outside, it was sunny and warm but I took no notice, for all my concentration was on my new and brilliant plan. As I walked behind my mother, I gazed with the utmost intensity at the laces, ready to catch the, if they tried unlacing. And they didn’t, because a watched lace doesn’t come undone.
I had beat the system! I could walk without fear! While other children would sit inside, trembling at the power of the laces, I would roam freely and all who saw me would know how brilliant I was.
Lost in such thoughts, I didn’t hear my mother call my name until the third time. When I looked up, sure she was going to congratulate me on how fantastically wise I was, everything suddenly went dark.
I woke up in a walk in clinic and a doctor was peering at me with some amusement. “Karlin, how many fingers am I holding up?”
I answered several equally obvious questions, unsure of why I was there. The doctor finally told me. “Karlin, you waked into a fire hydrant. You knocked yourself out.”
I swear I heard my laces chuckling maniacally.
Well, if the laces hadn’t cheated and enlisted the help of the fire hydrant, I would certainly have won. Still, the concussion I had afterwards kept me inside for a while and I avoided wearing shoes as much as I could for years to come.
During that time, I also developed quite a healthy fear of jeans. Also thought to be harmless by adults (poor things) my dreams had revealed the truth to me.
You see, for many nights, I had been having a prophetic nightmare. In this vision, I was standing in my darkened living room, facing a pair of jeans. These jeans stood up on their own and as I watched, a row of needle sharp teeth appeared around the waistband and the light blue denim roared at me.
Clearly, this was my sub-conscious revealing to me what my conscious eyes had seen but not understood. And so, in my ever growing wisdom and brilliance, I threw a tantrum every time my parents told me to wear jeans. And when I was sent to my room, I graciously forgave them, for I was, of course, of greater intelligence.
The great moment when my brilliance truly had a chance to shine through, however, was a few years late during the winter time. I was practicing my calling of pretending to be an animal by running around on all fours in the snow. I had made trenches along the perimeter of our backyard so I could scamper around like a clumsy deer.
To my delight, my dad came out to play with me. We threw snowballs at each other for a while and then my dad said he would pretend he was a deer hunter and try to hit me as I ran across the lawn.
I decided this would be fun and because of my awesome athletic abilities, I dodged every launched sphere of snow. Eventually, I was all the way across the yard and my dad threw a carefully constructed missile, but clearly in vain, because I was so far away.
My brain calculated as the snowball hurtled, in slow motion, through the air towards me. Smugly, I watched as it came towards me, knowing it would land in the snow in front of me. Closer, closer, clos-
BAM! I was in the snow, only seeing with one eye.
The laughter of my cruel father reached my ears but all I could see was the snow around me and the dull grey sky. Not only my body but my spirit had been struck down by that snowball (along with my IQ level) and I was still smart enough to know when to give up on the entire intelligence business.