Child Prodigy

August 24, 2022

I don’t remember explaining entire made-up worlds to my mother and father. I was not a fantasy book reader, for one thing, and for another, the internet had not been cooked up yet. My parental units and I shared a (very limited) knowledge base, and Mom and Dad knew about Tweedledum and Tweedledee, that Charlotte was a spider, and that Superman and kryptonite were not a good combo.

But now! Aiden so very earnestly recites the many whimsical characters in “Prodigy,” his favorite computer game that (ostensibly) Makes Math Fun!!! Sister Mary Alphonsus (Alphonsus Mary? My memory doesn’t serve) had zero interest in Making Math Fun for us, even had Prodigy or its ilk been around in the 1960s. Math, like going to confession, was a trial you just endured, something that would, somehow, at some point, make you a better person.

As the Nana-of-the-Year Wannabe that I am, I’ve been watching Aiden play, and learned the following: there are dozens of pets with catchy names like Bluefury Magmayhem and Shivertusk, which are monsters until you battle and catch them (maybe?), epic battles and quests. Aiden has told me the names of his pets approximately one million times and, again, memory doesn’t serve. I don’t even understand how math figures into this! But my grandson has been yearning to become a “member,” and finally this week he achieved that high honor. I assumed it came upon reaching a superior level of aptitude, but (SURPRISE) “membership” is a paid opportunity (the game is otherwise free).

And even if there had been intricate online worlds of wonder for tots to explore, my folks would have been no more intrigued by them than the average parent of that era was (which is to say, not at all). I believe it was my generation that was the first to rewrite the old saw “Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard” to “Children!! Always Seen and Ever Heard!! Be Quiet, Grownups, Little Susan is Speaking!!” As long as we let them adult in peace, Joanie and Tom didn’t know or care what soap operas we were watching (say, boys and girls, can you spell “illegitimate”?)

By the time my five kiddos entered the picture, we parents were expected to rattle off every single Sesame Street character, and have more than a passing acquaintance with the GoosebumpsAmelia Bedelia and Magic Tree House series. Sadly, this knowledge came at the expense of the various wisdom-nuggets we’d accrued before having children. Seems I cannot recite Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess” anymore, because that brain-space has been permanently invaded by the entire TV lineup on “TGIF.”

Thanks mostly to Ya-Jhu, the boys are not spoiled rotten, so I feel we can indulge them from time to time. And it is very cute to see Aiden bursting with delight when playing his beloved video game. Will he use these finely honed skills to become an astrophysicist? Doesn’t matter. To me, he (and Peter) will always be Child Prodigies.


    I am an author (of five books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a retired director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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