� Blind Date | Main | Bernstein �

November 04, 2003

Baby Brains

Every once in a while, I get those pangs of guilt and envy. This happens most often when I am reading Brad DeLong's blog and he speaks of his children's exploits. As anyone who reads Brad knows, he's got some embarassingly bright kids. Embarassing for us.

I'm not a total slouch, however. Like most parents, I try to keep the denial to a minimum and on occasion I find myself very pleased with the way the genetic cookies are baking. Of the three, there is only one who is behind and only in one subject. The rest is, as they say, As and Bs and black-eyed peas. F8 is my middle child's codename. She's a third grader and although she doesn't hate math, she doesn't have the aptitude right now. But this is not about her, it's about F6.

F6 is smarter than I was when I was a kid and my IQ was 136. I think she's way smarter. How many first graders do you know who play Monopoly? In fact she's a huge Monopoly fan and beats her older brother and sister on a consistent basis. We played chess last night and she's progressing nicely. I have promised to play my kids very hardball when it comes to chess. I am teaching it as a merciless game. I was never very good but I never lost until the 10th grade and I beat my father for the first time after a year of playing. So I'm thinking of new ways to challenge the puppies and I hit upon something interesting.

I suck at dominoes. For my entire life I was at the mercy of all country cousins when it came to games of chance. Spades, tonk, spoons, crazy 8s, bid whist, blackjack and poker? Ha! I was a loser's loser. I could only play gin rummy, a sissy game. But the scariest game of all? Craps. Although I could pitch pennies with the best of them, shooting dice has its own mythology of evil that I could not overcome. My parents' puritanical injuction against gambling of any sort formed a insuperable mental block. No matter how I tried to think clearly about the rules of the game, its association with knife fights and cheating made my stomach drop. But most of all was that it was about money. How could games be about money? This underinvestment by my parents is something I am loathe to pass on.

There is perhaps nothing so subversive as a woman whose understanding of a man's game surpasses that of men. So while there are real educational advantages in having F6 grok the subtleties of craps probabilities, I'm also looking forward to her scaring men. But most of all I hope to show them that some parts of life are indeed a crapshoot, and the more comfortable you are dealing with the odds, and even putting your money where your brains are, the better off you'll be. In that, I think I will be teaching my kids something about economics and character, which is a good lesson for all baby brains.

Posted by mbowen at November 4, 2003 09:53 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Teach them backgammon. It's a wonderful game of part chance and mostly skill.


Posted by: Fred Boness at November 4, 2003 11:13 PM