Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Am I Stupid or What? What?

Intelligence is a difficult thing to measure. My father-in-law, retired high school tech teacher, non-professional violin player, ten-dollar Canadian, and very smart guy in spite of those things (Ha ha) is a big fan of the IQ test. He got both of his kids IQ tested back in the glorious '70s. However, I don't believe those results told the whole story. The kid who tested very high did finish high school, aced college top of the class, and went on to work in an industry that demanded 100 hour weeks but only paid for about the first three days. (I wish I was exaggerating.) The other kid tested very low. Sadly low. That kid gave high school the middle finger at age 16, became a hairdresser, and had a half decent job for almost 20 years, after which that unsuccessful student finished high school by correspondence, discovered a nagging little dyslexia problem, went to university for a year, and is now a high school tech teacher. (Hey! Deja vu!) The salary in the first year was equal, roughly, to what the high-IQ kid was earning after 13 years as a professional.

Now you tell me: which one of those kids is smarter???

I am not a professional anything. I'm technically a housewife but I hate that term because I didn't marry my house. Even so, I am a terrible housekeeper. It's been worse since my doctors started experimenting with prescriptions on me, but I never could maintain a level state of neatness for any length of time. I love writing but have never gotten paid for any of it. Please believe, not for lack of trying. I love horses but I have no qualifications for competition or training. I quit college after a year and never made another clay pot again. I have not had success with the old 9-5 office gig, nor have I ever been able to stay stable at a clock punching factory type gig. As for mothering, well, you can't be an expert on that until your own children become parents and then beg your forgiveness for all the hell they put you through. Ask my mom!

Notice I've had a few career changes in my life. Now keep in mind that most of those happened more than 11 years ago. All of this indecision can really mess with your sense of identity. What am I good at? What do I do? What the hell am I good for? Am I stupid?

Our 11 yr old Girl has attention deficit disorder, and let me say that I hate that term too. It's not a deficit, technically, because one of the characteristics is the hyper-focus. She can't pay attention to what's going on in class but if she locks onto something, you can't reach her. I know the feeling! When I get my focus happening, it takes all my brain power to lock into it and you better not break the tractor-beam! I think I have it too. I'm still uncomfortable with the concept because it suggests that there is something wrong and that we who uh, think differently, you know, "differently focussed", should get our act together and be on the ball like everybody else. And while I'm at it, being "height challenged", I should wear platforms all the time so I don't have to pull a chair over to get to the high shelf.

Blah blah blah. I read an interesting theory. Adults who grew up with an undiagnosed ADD end up with low self esteem, depression from believing that they never quite measure up, and anxiety from always feeling left behind. It's just a little too simple an expanation to a much more complicated set of conditions, but I had tears in my eyes when I read this. That's me. Maybe I'm not stupid. Maybe I'm just really, really...scattered.

Now that I'm off the anti-depressants (and I've got more things to say about that!) I've been doing a lot of brain work, in that I'm attempting to change my thought patterns. It is astounding how many times each day, each minute, I tell myself something very negative. And not to be cruel to me, but truthfully, I'm full of crap. Sure, my eyes glaze over as soon as people start talking politics. Does that make me stupid? Bored, that's all. And when the talk turns to RRSPs and stock portfolios, I start thinking about Johnny Depp instead, well that doesn't make me stupid, does it? I think not. Can't keep up in conversations about world events with "Smart People?" If I'd quit filling my brain with People Magazine and actually read the news, you know, the real news, not the entertainment section which I consider news, but the actual news, maybe I could keep up.

I remember being five and wondering what the hell was going on in my classroom, why the other kids knew what was going on and I didn't. But, I also can think of many times when I couldn't believe how incredibly unthinking my peers were. Just a bunch of idiots copying things down and not questioning a sweet thing. And how many times, all the way through school, I wanted to stand up and yell at everybody, "don't you people have brains of your own???" And I also suspect strongly that stupidity makes life easier to get through. I haven't made anything easy for myself.

So I still don't know exactly what intelligence is, or how to measure it, or how to increase it. But at least now, I feel like I'm ready to allow myself to have a little piece of it.


Smartypants said...

My brother has ADD and he's just learning to cope with it now as an adult. Not sure what causes it but it's extremely challenging. He's very bright but only does well in subjects he's interested in and then he does brilliantly.

Oh, by the way. We were pre-destined to meet. I just reread your profile and saw that you liked A Horse Named Doodlebug.

Girl, I read my copy of that book to rags. I always hated that bitchy neighbor, Myra, and loved it when she got her setdown. The illustrations rock and I always wished for my own beautiful black stallion. (with flowing mane and tail)

Heidi the Hick said...

Wow! NOBODY else has read that book! Except my kids. When I got that book I had two beautiful black pony mares (with bushy manes and tails). Guess what I wrote about all day in Grade 4??? I still have that book. I choke up every time I read it!

Smartypants said...

I love the part when she tried to ride him. Great illustration.

Yes. We were totally pre-destined to meet.

Heidi the Hick said...

I was the model for that picture! Too bad I got no bizness in Texas.

Notsocranky Yankee said...

My answer: What.

Have you read any of the ADD books by Dr. Hallowell? "Driven to Distraction", "Answers to Distraction" and "Delivered From Distraction" are all good books on ADD. They are a good source of info on ADD.