Wednesday 30 July 2014

I got around to seeing a couple of episodes of My Kid’s Clever as Fuck (Channel 4).

First’s thing first: there are some dicks here. Some of them are parents and some of them are (young) children. But they are dicks and it needs to be acknowledged. You know who else are dicks? Almost everyone. So, let’s not pretend some intense parents setting hard targets for already over-achieving kids are the monsters some people would have you believe.

But it is hard not to think that as parents who have TWO children in the competition qualify for the second week deliver rhetoric to their offspring about not trying hard enough. The boy of this family will later cry after remembering about 65 playing cards in sequence because he didn’t do enough. There seems an issue with balance here: we all want our kids to be clever. But surely they should enjoy remembering playing cards in sequence and not see it as something to get upset about.

Incidentally the last sentence of the previous paragraph WAS sarcastic. Remembering playing cards in order seems a fucking useless skill to me. Apart from that one time when the plane was going to crash into the Queen’s palace and that man remembered the playing cards in order and the plane landed safely.

I did like that the worst kids there were the ones who got upset that they didn’t get everything right. None of them did anything aggressive or impolite. And when the ones who got upset got upset – the kids around them were putting a literal arm around them and trying to cheer them up and telling them that they were great. Emotional intelligence that innit – perhaps more important than being able to say the squiggle that was third was the odd squiggle out of the five squiggles. Or that if a wheelbarrow is to Normandy what is Normandy is beef is wheelbarrow?

A pair of psychologists are perhaps the most irksome parents. Their daughter seems to be relatively normal. But this seem in spite of, rather than because of, their input. That’s harsh. They clearly played a role. And the mother helps the daughter after she is eliminated, sitting her on her knee and asking her if she can forgive herself.

The documentary catches up with the family a week after the contest has ended for them and they have had a chance to evaluate it. “No matter what kind of harsh filter I put on it there is nothing we could have done better,” says the mother. Adding bizarrely, “or even just differently to get a different outcome.” Which is an odd thing for a scientist to say.

Fortunately dad is on hand to explain their post-evaluation thoughts in a more meaningful way: “It’s like she is a Formula 1 driver who has done everything right and then on the finishing straight she has…crashed the car.” Which it wasn’t like. “That’s a good metaphor,” says mum. Which it wasn’t. Apart from being inaccurate, it’s a simile.

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