Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? If You’re a Parent, You’re Not

I will go on the record and tell you that I’m not smarter than a fifth grader. I know this because I have a fifth grader and he graciously tells me each and every minute of each and every day that I am not smarter than him.

I haven’t been smarter than him in the fourth grade, the third grade, the second grade or the first grade. And, frankly, during preschool there was only one month – I think it was April – when I was smarter than Junior. Otherwise, I’m just a parent and we all know what that means – I’m dumb as a stump.

In fact, I have a theory that we should send all kids out into the world right after they’re toilet-trained. That way they can get jobs while they’re still smart. Because you know once those very same kids are parents, they become the same as the rest of us: old, used up and stupid.

Oh, it’s true. Maybe you were the smartest person in your class. Maybe you are the smartest person on Earth. It doesn’t matter. Once you become a parent you become stupid. Oh, please. Don’t deny it. We all know it’s true – after all, how smart did you think your parents were when you were a fifth grader?

Do you see what I mean? Now, at one point in time, I could add, subtract and do most of my multiplication tables without peeking. I could even read really big words, the kind that you have to look up in the dictionary. I knew better than to eat paste or pick my nose in public. But that was before I became a parent – and before I watched the new Fox show called “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”

Five minutes into that show I realized that I am the stupidest person to walk the Earth. Even worse, I’m not alone. Most of us – and by that I mean adults – are not smarter than a fifth grader. In fact, sadly, many of us are not even smarter than a first grader. And you know what that means, don’t you?

It means your kids are right. You are stupid.

Of course, just watching the show wasn’t enough to prove my stupidity to me. I went on to take the “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” quiz. I failed. Turns out I’m only as smart as a first grader. I had to take the stupid quiz three times until I reached fourth grade. And, if I’m honest here, I cheated. I looked at the answers after I failed the second time. Oh, please. Like you wouldn’t have cheated? Unfortunately, even with cheating, I didn’t get the answers right. How the heck do I know where a stalagmite hangs in a cave? It’s not like I’m Uma the Cavewoman.

And I didn’t get very many right answers when I watched the show, either. OK, I knew that red and blue made purple – which made me as smart as your average, art-loving, first grader. But I didn’t know how many sides are on a trapezoid – in fact, at first I thought it meant trapeze. I couldn’t figure out what a giant circus swing had to do with math. And I certainly didn’t know what constellation the Big Dipper was in. I’m lucky I can pick it out when I look up at the sky at night. Or can I?

But I have managed to make myself feel better. After all, I may not be able to remember Ursa Major right away, but chances are I did learn it – 3,000 years ago when I was a fifth grader. And now, my head is all congested with all the things I’ve learned since then, not to mention all the stuff I do each day. Look, who has a brain big enough to store information about trapezoids, when there’s important stuff to remember like paying the PG&E bill on time or trying not eat paste or pick your nose in public?

And frankly, I’m convinced that the fifth graders on the show aren’t your ordinary, average, everyday fifth graders. I think they’re super smart, PhD candidates that are really short. And by short, I mean tiny enough to pass for a fifth grader.

And if they are your ordinary, average, everyday fifth graders, that’s just fine. Because I know that one day, those smarty-pants kids will be parents. And then they’ll be just as stupid as I am.

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