Nerds in the Family

November 26, 2008 at 2:33 am | Posted in Book Blather | 2 Comments

Who knows how it happened, but in my family my 11-year-old nephew Li’l Brain and I are the only first-borns.  His mother is the only child of two only children, and everyone else in three generations is anywhere from second-born to seventh in line.  There really seems to be something to the birth-order theory, because as soon as Li’l Brain was old enough to walk, he started clutter clearing:  carrying dishes to the kitchen, picking up single leaves off the lawn and carrying them to the compost… It wasn’t long before, like me, all he wanted to do was read, utterly confounding his daddy, my youngest brother and definitely not a book person.  By the age of eight, he had already read Moby-Dick.  Unabridged.  I teased my brother about how much his son takes after me.  He said, “No, because he’s good at math, too.”  (And popular, and athletic).

I guess I asked for that one.

Rocket Scientist, likewise, has a bookish niece.  She’s eight and a home schooler.  The first time we met, she leaned over to me and whispered, “I’m a bookworm!”  I leaned toward her and whispered back, “Me too!”  You should see this kid.  With her round face, glasses, and straight dark hair, she’s like the little sister Harry Potter never had.

The strange thing about these young relations of ours is that they’re both the dark-haired older sibling of a same-sex blonde child who isn’t very interested in books.  You have to wonder, does this have anything to do with anything?  Is it just that parents have less time to read to each successive child, or is there really something behind the old saw that blondes have more fun (i.e. less page time)?

Anyway, the reason I’m introducing the junior nerds in our family is to relate an anecdote.  My brother took his boys to the library recently to get library cards – to my shock, he takes them five days a week after Boys and Girls Club.  My brother?  Goes to the library?  More often than I do?  There is no onomatopoeic expression to relate the sound my brain makes when I think about this.  But he is a good father, and a frugal one, and I’m sure he’s already realized that buying all Li’l Brain’s reading material would require him to take on a second job.  Here’s the kicker:  Li’l Brain was so busy showing off his new library card at school that he inadvertently misplaced it.  My brother explained to him how, if someone used the missing card, they could check out CDs and DVDs and steal them, and guess who would be liable?  Therefore, Li’l Brain would not be able to check out books.  So about a week and a half went by, when lo and behold, the poor kid found the derelict card in the bowels of his backpack.  He ran up with it, saying, “Now can I check out books?”

Who says reading has declined among the young?  Hmm?


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  1. As the dark-haired oldest child and sibling to a blonde sister who reads maybe 5 books a year, I’m thinking you’re right that there must be something to the theory. Li’l Brain and I would get along very well, and I’m so glad to hear he found his library card. Great story!

  2. So cute! I’m a first-born, but I’m blonde. I’ve always been a bookworm while my little sister (also blonde) isn’t.

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