Mom Confessional: The Moment I realized My Kid was Smarter than Me

Mom Confessional: The Moment I realized My Kid was Smarter than Me

They grow up so fast — and learn how to outsmart us just as quick.

By: Andrea Updyke

I am still in the throes of early parenting with a 4-year-old and a toddler. I’d like to think that, at least for this stage of their lives, there are some clear boundaries dividing the parent from the child: I am older, wiser and with more experiences, you see. I am the Mama.

I play the role of mom, boo-boo kisser, hug-giver, snack maker and toy finder. I provide and encourage and discipline and teach. I shuttle and bathe children and clean up after them. I work hard so we can do fun things and make memories.

My children do the things children should do: They play and discover and learn. They laugh and cry and test their limits. They fall and get back up. They love unconditionally. They express frustration and disappointment without restraint. They learn. They live each moment to the fullest whether the fullest means they are running around the yard pretending to fly or imagining what the moon is made of. They are watchers, and they don’t miss anything.

It’s when they start to use their powers against me that I know they are smarter than I am.

I am not sure when it happens exactly, but it happens. When my 4-year-old is engrossed in an activity, you would think he has tuned out the world, yet he hears everything. He knows my words and what my tones mean. He notices the heavy sigh when I am tired or the under-my-breath mutterings when I am frustrated. He knows what makes me laugh and how to make me smile.

Day in and day out, I am being watched, learned, and emulated. The operation is so smooth that I don’t even know it’s happening until, one day, I realize that I bought all the toys and watched all the shows and never once realized that it was happening.

I’m telling you, he’s good.

Every child seems to reach what I like to call, “The OK Question” stage. It happened to me as a babysitter before I had kids — and now as a mother. It goes something like this:


Become a member of P&G everyday and get exclusive offers!

Become a member

The child will ask, “May I watch a movie?”

You reply with what you think is a statement showing you understood the question:

“You want to watch a movie?”

The child then excitedly answers, “OK!”

And now you have yourself a date for the next 119 minutes. Bring popcorn.

Once this works a few times, the child will move on to bigger and better forms of manipulation disguised as adorable kids-will-be-kids type stuff. Prolonging bedtime is the classic tale that seems to stump even the most diligent of parents. Our current routine with the 4-year-old has morphed into a 30-minute session that starts and ends with Daddy while Mama makes a few appearances throughout:

Daddy reads stories, mama sings. Daddy talks about the school day. Mama tells a joke and gets one last drink of water.

The 4-year-old is winning — and we’re coming to terms with the fact he probably always will.

Andrea is the founder of Lil Kid Things and also writes for the Babycenter Blog. She lives in Raleigh, N.C., where she spends her days caring for her two sons, Oscar and Calvin, and learning how to balance work, kids and marriage.

Complete your personal information

Please fill in the information marked with an asterisk to proceed; if you want to get tailored offers and content, don't forget to fill in the optional fields.




Loved this piece. Hilarious. I wonder if you could use this trick with a second language as an adult.

  • Report it