I guess I knew Kent was a genius the first time I saw him.
We were sitting in Dr. Carlson’s Morphology & Syntax class, both taking it for ‘graduate credit’. He raised his hand to ask a question from the front row, while I hid in the back frantically taking notes. Sad but true, I didn’t even understand his grammar question (never mind the answer!). I’m proud to say that I passed that class with a higher grade on the final exam than Kent, but it was him who really understood ominous grammar concepts like: Split-ergatives, copulas, and deictic centers. I just knew how to take tests.
Fast forward a year when we were off to do field research in rural Kenya where Kent sat chopping up foreign tones, vowels and verbs. Seeing him get so excited about finding a pattern in the instrumental or dative made me realize 2 things: 1) I am really not a linguist at heart. While I love many aspects of our work, I will surely never be a famous grammarian. And 2) Kent really wasn’t showing off his intellect for my benefit in Morphology class, he really does think in big words.
Years later God gave us James, who has inherited a bit of his father’s beautiful mind. To see the two of them interact lately has been a bizarre mix of awe and fright. This morning they discussed amphibian parenthood while passing a puddle of tadpoles. Yesterday over breakfast (after James asked for 2 dolphin-shaped chewable vitamins) Kent and James built a chart of all possible vitamin combinations and calculated the probability of getting the two animals he so coveted. I tried not to roll my eyes. Why should I be surprised? They had a great time, and now instead of complaining about not getting what he wants, James will check out how his probability stacks up. Thankfully, Kent let me talk him out of starting James on Homer’s Iliad just yet. After all, he IS still six years old for one more week. Sheesh! Why rush childhood??
No, what I’m really blogging about, and what has impressed me most these past few months, is how Kent can apply his genius to completely unknown and foreign things and conquer them. It’s more than the male need for spontaneous adventure. He has next to no experience with home-improvement projects (hey, we’ve never stayed anywhere long enough to fix things!). And yet he has figured out how to re-plumb this house (let’s not downplay the wonder of running water!), rewire our electricity to run on 3 parallel systems (city power, solar batteries or generator), and build furniture. Case in point: His first woodwork, our new mahogany dining table:
And all this in a place without Home Depot!
[Yes, that is a paint brush sitting in gasoline in a Quaker oats can (the local paint thinner).]
Guess this genius is coming in handy!
(‘Red-Green’… ‘If they don’t find you handsome, at least they’ll find you handy!”)
Looks like I got the best of both worlds.