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Why The Final of 'Child Genius' Made Me Feel Uncomfortable

I want my twin boys to be clever and smart. But I hope neither turns out to be a child genius.

This morning one of them shat himself awake while the other spent an hour licking the sofa. It seems unlikely that MENSA will be in touch anytime soon. And I’m fine with that.

Not that I don’t want my kids to flourish or be successful, you understand. I hope they show drive, ambition and a willful enthusiasm to accomplish beautiful, remarkable things that I could only dream of.

But I hope they enjoy their childhood first. And I’m not sure they would if they were certifiable Einsteins by the age of 3.

Imagine wiping the arse of someone significantly smarter than you.

“Father, without wishing to appear rude, uncouth or in any way ungrateful I would strongly suggest that you stick to a clockwise motion to minimize the increased statistical inevitability of your index finger slipping through this competitively priced but ultimately inadequate latrine paper and becoming reacquainted with my faeces.” 

Jesus.

We all moan about kids TV but I’d rather sit through eight episodes of Tellytubbies than have to watch a marathon of classic French cinema with my boys.

Imagine taking your kid to a soft-play area when all they wanted to do was read Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde.

Fuck. That.

If you were unfortunate enough to catch the end of Channel 4’s Child Genius Grand Final earlier this week, you may still be vomiting bits of your soul into the nearest bin.

For those unaccustomed with the format, these super-brains line up against each other to answer some improbably difficult questions and a winner is declared. The whole thing made me feel very uncomfortable and not just because I didn’t know any of the answers. (Or understand the questions.)

One girl’s specialized subject was ‘Margaret Thatcher’s Monetery Policy and Tax Reform, 1979-1990.’

She was 9 years old.

NINE.

At that age my specialized subject would’ve been ‘All The Places I’ve Wiped Bogeys, 1985-88.’
She then spelled words correctly such as 'Thelytokous' and 'Eleemosynary' which look more like your Scrabble pieces when you can’t go than actual words.

The parents came under fire for being too pushy but I wondered, if my kids were in this competition would I be just like them? Nobody wants their offspring to fail.

I’m happy in the knowledge that’s an unlikely scenario for most of us. Then again, I’m someone who considers making a room full of drunk people laugh more important than nuclear fusion. I’m clearly not a role model.

The kids were lazily mocked too but it’s hardly their fault they were born with exceptional IQ’s. They wanted to learn and show off their knowledge, albeit perhaps with slightly over-zealous parents encouraging them to get in front of the camera.

The whole thing just made me feel like I did sat on my aunties wooden floor watching a pirate copy of E.T. aged 6 - sad and uncomfortable.

I want my kids to follow their dreams and be successful. I want them to cure AIDS and play for Everton and invent cheese and end global poverty and write novels and own a pub and become Prime Minister. Will I push them to do these things? I hope not but only time will tell.

First, I want them to have a childhood. And I won’t let anything get in the way of that. 

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