Tag Archives: Musings



In the late 1970’s Popular Science ran an article about The Next Decades Up- and-Coming Young Scientists, or something of that nature. At the time I was busily engaged in the trenches rearing three small children. Our eldest son had scored very high on an IQ test (I almost want to say here that he was “diagnosed” with a high IQ), which was no surprise, but it did increase our insecurities about how best to meet his needs.

The author of the article in question interviewed several of the men and women scientists who had been recommended for the magazine’s honor. Some of the questions asked and the answers were very illuminating.

When asked when they knew they were “smart”, over half said they had no idea until they took the SAT and/or entered college. They thought of themselves as “just one of the guys” until they went away from home. There were very few who said their parents told them or any of their siblings they were smart or praised them for it. Some of the respondents still sounded shocked that they were considered smarter than average.

When asked what they considered their biggest advantages in growing up,  the answers were almost all along the lines of:

My parents made me do my homework, and they checked it.

I had responsibilities at home, but learning was a priority.

My mother took me to the library at least once a week to get as many new books as I was allowed to borrow, and made certain I both read the books and took care of them. My parents questioned me about them.

Both of my parents were interested in what I was doing and what I thought. We ate dinner together and discussed everything under the sun.

All of the respondents said their strengths started with their parents and being taught to work.

The article also quoted one top scientist as saying, “You can learn anything in the world if you have an IQ of 120, anything above that number is just so much gravy.”

I’m still not convinced that we know enough about intelligence to “test” for it. What is considered intelligence in one culture may be totally irrelevant in another. Is a Polynesian explorer steering his canoe by his knowledge of the ocean and heavens any less intelligent than a book taught scholar at Cambridge? Would some of our present day educators have enough knowledge to survive if dropped into a wilderness? What kind of IQ would survival take?

So, does IQ matter? I read once that after Richard Feynman won the Nobel Prize in Physics, he and his wife visited his old high school where he asked to see his school records. Upon leaving he turned to his wife and said, “Winning the Nobel Prize didn’t seem like such a big deal, but now that I know my IQ it seems huge.”

I have watched the trap that parents of “smart” kids can fall into when they think that their child “has no peers”, as I heard one woman say. It’s an easy trap to be caught in. When our son skipped sixth grade and began Middle School he left his friends behind and felt lost without them. He came home one day and happily told me he had made a friend. Without thinking, I asked, “Is he smart?” My son, wiser than I, answered, “I don’t know, but he sure is nice.” I mended my ways.

Remember, we should be engaged in the business of rearing good people first, geniuses if we have to. Now that I have watched my children become adults and begin families of their own, I have learned a few lessons that, in the real world, seem important to me in growing those good people:

All children should be taught to work at a young age. They should also be given some moral and/or religious instruction.

All of your children, whether genius or not, will have different strengths and weaknesses. Other children are their peers.

All children will fail, and need to be told they failed. Their feelings will recover and their self respect will be strengthened when they master what they failed at.

Never be afraid to tell your children “NO”, and mean it.

Unless they are infants or ill, never clean up after your children. They need to clean up their own messes and mistakes.

All children should learn a skill or trade, but not all should go to college.

Your child may be a “late bloomer”, cut him or her some slack.

All children, no matter how “smart”, will have troubles and heartache. It’s called the human condition.

At some point, earlier than you might think, you lose the right to be your child’s boss. They’re on their own.

As long as your children know how to work and love God and learning, chances are, no matter what they do, they’ll be fine.

One more thing. If I were doing things all over again today, I would home school in a heart beat.


(This is a poem I have written in response to the Holocaust Deniers who make a mockery of and deny the reality of historical Truth)

Of late the faded photograph, grainy and old,
Intrudes upon my mind
And sears my sleep.

The women – naked, exposed –
Led helplessly to an open grave,
Striving still, to shield their beauty,
Hands covering breasts and mounds —
Enclosed by encircling arms, one protects her child
Now never to be born.

Nearby with rifles stand
Who think they are men,
leering at the capturing camera,
Bearing witness forever to their unholy glee.

In the vast economy of God,
Whose loss is worse?
The women, whose beauty is only transformed,
Or the unthinkers who destroy themselves?


I feel such a sense of foreboding for the Jewish people worldwide and for the State of Israel.  Our amazing president has managed to fail all of our strongest allies. Will Israel stand alone? Prophesy says so. The Lord has said He will bless those who bless them and curse those who curse them.

Where will we stand?


“Those people get cold and hungry, too.”  Henry, my father

My father was a young man during the real Great Depression. He was a “hobo” who “rode the rails” all over the western United States, sharing boxcars with other men also in dire circumstances. He drifted from place to place looking for any work he could find and working hard for every penny or food he earned.

He also made life-long friends, both among those who helped him and those he rode the rails with. He and his friends referred to each other in racial terms that are totally unacceptable today and they thought nothing of it. In fact, they were terms of endearment for his group. Dad was known as “that hard-headed Finn”, usually accompanied by some other more colorful expletives, and almost all of those he knew referred to themselves by their pejorative racial identities.

Daddy finally found work in a copper mine, married and settled down a few years before World War II began. Times were still tough but with the beginning of the war the depression officially ended and dad found what was considered a defense job as a night shift switchman for the Denver and Rio Grand Western Railroad. He still loved being around trains and worked for the Railroad until his death.

When I was a child there was only one black family in our community and we children never met them. They were spoken of by the adults we knew in terms that today would be very derogatory. I think we children heard every racial epithet in the book. By today’s standards, daddy and his friends would certainly be considered “racists” by referring to all groups in such language.

Coming from the Depression generation, money was a huge factor in dad’s life. He never wasted a penny if he could help it and he lived by the maxim “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” So when he came home from work one extremely cold winter morning and announced that he had “lost” his winter coat and “broken” his thermos my mother was completely baffled and kept trying to get him to tell her how in the world such a thing had happened. He told her to stick to her own problems and just get a new coat and thermos for him.

The next payday mom took me with her while, as usual, she went to railroad accounting to pick up dad’s paycheck. One of dad’s co-workers was also there and came out to our car laughing and said, “Henry nearly froze to death when he gave that black hobo his coat and thermos and fed him his lunch.” He also said dad brought the man into the switchmen’s shed to “warm up and hide from the railroad dicks until the train left and then he even helped him get aboard a boxcar without being seen.” When mom told daddy what she had learned he looked embarrassed and muttered, “Those people get cold and hungry, too.”

Since I had never met any black person I had assumed daddy didn’t like them. But what I heard that day left me with a very different perspective about my father.

My youngest brother, Dave, told me about our father taking him to the airport when he left for Vietnam. He said that everyone leaving on the flight had family and friends seeing them off except for one young black man from out-of-town. Dave walked around greeting friends when he realized dad was no longer with him. He found him sitting with his arms around the black kid, who was homesick, lonely and scared. Our father and Dave stayed with the boy right up until the boys boarded the plane and daddy hugged and kissed them both goodbye.

So, tell me, did my father’s words make him a racist? If so, what did his actions make him?