There's a popular TV show Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader? If you've ever watched it and are like me, it's amazingly disheartening how shockingly dumb it makes adults look. All these cute little kids, 5th graders, rattling off answers that we adults have long forgotten, or truth be told, never knew.
It was about 5th grade when I could no longer help my children with their math homework. Not because I didn't know the answer, but because they had to show how they arrived at the answer, and I arrived at the answers differently. I still remember the look of disbelief on my children's faces as they patiently explained how they had been taught. And so it began, at that moment I bet my kids thought, "My Mom's not smarter than her 5th graders." Fortunately, life is not math homework or a game show. We, as parents, have life experiences, we have WISDOM and that makes us SMARTER than any 5th grader.
My son's depression surfaced clearly during middle school. His sleeping and eating patterns changed. He no longer enjoyed sports or any family activities, and suddenly he had a new social circle. As his mother, I really wanted to believe this was normal teenage angst. My son repeatedly told me everything was fine. But there were clues, unexplained cuts and burns in his clothing, missing alcoholic beverages, doors and windows frequently open and unlocked. I knew something wasn't right but not until a routine blood test was administered did I realize the extent. My son rolled up his sleeves and revealed forearms that had been self-mutilated. He told me his friend's cat scratched him, and thankfully, because parents ARE SMARTER than their teenagers, we immediately sought psychiatric help. My son was dealing with insomnia, he heard voices, was suicidal and tried to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, self-harming and finding solace in music.
Like so many, my son's journey to wellness began with a slow and painful dialogue that resulted in an attempt to find medication therapies to help him cope with and manage his mental disorders. As he got into counseling, he saw he wasn't alone, he found comfort in a community of young people who dealt with the same issues and adults who were knowledgeable and caring. The more he opened up and was exposed to the world of behavioral and mental health, the less isolating his disease felt.
I often wonder, “What if I really believed I wasn't smarter than my teenager?” What if, when he told me, "Mom, everything's fine" I said, "He's a smart kid, he knows when he's not doing well" and just left it at that?
Here's my message to the adults of the world... Don't believe the hype just because we're tech illiterate, not on the latest social media and need our kids to explain new-age 5th grade math. Big Deal! We are still the WISE ONES. If you suspect something's not right or well with your child, trust your gut! Our kids are bullied, preyed upon and scammed by the exact things they think they're experts in because they're smart, not WISE. As adults, we've seen, done, experienced and recovered from much over the years. You need life experiences to gain wisdom. And that, my friend, is why your 5th grader can REALLY never be smarter than you.
Contributed by Gail Holmes