Is Your Kid “Clever” or “Criminal?”

Is Your Kid Clever or Criminal?  It's a fine line, people - a FINE line! #funny
So then…she says, “He’s a very bright boy.”

I beam.

She says, “And so creative!”

I glow.

“And I’m so impressed that he’s only 7 and he types his spelling homework! Everyone else just handwrites their words.”

Oh. Hmm. Now I have an ethical dilemma. I shift on the miniature chair in Tucker’s classroom and examine his Second Grade teacher.

Should I just graciously accept the compliment – or reveal the reason that Tucker types his spelling homework?

So far, the Parent-Teacher conference has been going very well. She’s very complimentary, focusing on his virtues – “bright, creative, funny.” We both know he can also be “fidgety, chatty, and tardy with homework,” but I can tell she’s the sort of teacher who likes to put a positive spin on things.

To ease my conscience, I say, “Well, about that. You know how you give them 12 spelling words a week to alphabetize? Then they’re supposed to write each word three times so they can learn how to spell the words?”

“Yes,” she nods encouragingly.

My chair makes a tiny squeak as I shift my weight. I need to tell her my 7-year-old has recently gained access to a laptop.

“Well, um, Tucker figured out how to type the words into an Excel spreadsheet. Then he copies and pastes them two more times in the column. Then he hits ‘Sort’ so the words are automatically sorted into alphabetical order. Then he copies the words into a Word document and submits it for his homework.”

As I speak, her cheerful smile wavers and slowly disappears.

“Oh.” She looks uncertain.

I look contrite, awaiting judgment.

She concentrates. I can tell she’s trying to decide whether or not this constitutes an “unauthorized shortcut” (i.e. cheating) – or if this demonstrates Tucker’s “clever resourcefulness with technology.”

After a pause, she takes the high road. Smiling brightly, she says, “Well, at least he’s learning to spell the words as he types them in, so that’s the point of the task!”

I look down. “Well, um, he does hit ‘Spell Check’ before he prints the sheet.”


Awkward pause.

“Yeah,” I say to fill the silence.

A moment passes.

She sighs, then girds herself up for the final spin. “Well, he is certainly handy with a computer, isn’t he? What a bright, creative boy!”

I smile gratefully and exit into the bright sunshine.

— Darcy Perdu

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11 replies on “Is Your Kid “Clever” or “Criminal?”

  1. Tina said:

    That’s awesome – we should all be so positive!

  2. Ha ha I work with adults in an accounting firm and I wish half of them had the Excel skills that your son has. Be very proud.
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  3. Cindy said:

    So then . . . the kindergarten teacher at my child’s Catholic school leans across the table towards me, and (even though there is no one else in the room) drops her voice to a whisper, “Mrs. M, I think I should tell you. Heather has been telling people she was the flower girl in your wedding.” I lean across the table toward her and whisper back, “Mrs. K, she was. Would you like to see the pictures? She was very cute.” She says, “oh,” straightens up, and in a normal voice continues with the regularly scheduled program.

  4. I’m impressed! With the teacher mostly, because she tries so damn hard to stay positive, and also with Tucker, because he really does seem clever :)
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  5. Mary L. Waitt said:

    That is really cute.

  6. Cute story. I have not had anything like that happen at a teacher meeting. I do have to say that my 11 yr old tried to forge mine and hubby’s signature so he could get a prize. I have to add that he is high-functioning autistic and seeks adult approval. He could care less about other kids, but does get his feelings hurt on occassion by the kids. But he did confess to us that he tried to do it. I think my 8 year old tried to do it in primary school.

  7. I vote for bright, creative, clever resourcefulness with technology and damned handy with a computer. Spelling is the least of his concerns. He’s seven and he is reading and writing like an adult. He already knows how to spell the stupid words. He’s just getting through the logistics of the homework in exceptionally good time.
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