Little professors

There are two kinds of kids. The first kind, when they meet me for the first time, hide behind their moms and start crying. I don’t know why. But when the initial shock wears off, we become best buddies.

The other kind develops an instant desire to get on my nerves and drive me up the wall. They do this in various ways, using methods akin to medieval torture techniques. I met one such kid when I was visiting a colleague. The brat was about 4 years old, showed above average reading and torturing skills for his age.

When I entered the house, he looked innocuous enough, playing in the corner with his flash-cards. But as soon as he spotted me, he carefully approached his pray and camped near where his parents and I were trying to have a conversation. He started interrupting our conversation repeatedly by showing me the flash-cards of animals, which mostly looked Martian to me, and provided gratuitous information on their names and habitat.

After a while he figured the game was not interactive enough for him so he took the game up a notch. He started showing flash-cards and asking me to identify the animals. I identified them with ease. When I confidently announced “Ring-tailed lemur,” his father helpfully informed the brat, “Uncle is just reading off the flash-card.” The brat went, “Hey, you are not supposed to read off the card.” What? Are you expecting me to recognize a ring-tailed lemur? Do I look like an expert in… whatever subject that studies ungodly animals like ring-tailed lemurs?

Round three of the game constituted the brat covering the name of the animal and asking me to identify. At this point, I made my intentions not to be part of the fun clear by ignoring the brat. But it is hard to ignore him when he stood between me and his parents shoving a card in my face. I looked expectantly at his parents hoping they would say “Let uncle talk to us kanna.” But no. They were actually looked at me expectantly to answer the brat. After a brief to and fro exchange of expectant looks, they won.

Brat: OK, what is this?
Me: Deer

The brat smirked. I didn’t even know kids can smirk.

Brat: No, it’s an impala

I don’t know. They all look like frikking deer to me.

Brat: You don’t know the difference between deer and impala?

I wanted to tell the brat how much I care about the difference between impala and deer but I was afraid the brat may not understand the reference to rat’s ass. I looked at the parents hoping they would come to my rescue. They looked very amused, smiling proudly at the brat.

The pop-quiz continued.

Brat: What is this?
Me: Rhinoceros
Brat: No, rhinoceros

He corrected my pronunciation. Alarmed, I looked at the parents. Of course they are going to sternly admonish the brat not to be rude. Nope. They had their proud smile plastered on their faces.

Brat: What is this?
Me: Horse
Brat: What is it called in Telugu? (Telugu is my mother tongue)
Me: It’s called “gurram”
Brat: No it’s called “gurram” (Pronouncing it like an American)

The parents laughed out loud at the cuteness. I was not laughing. I was not mad at the brat. I was mad at the parents. I felt sad for the brat. He will grow up with the reinforcement that it is okay to be rude and it is okay to insist that he is right even when he is not.

Of course, a few minutes after that I suddenly remembered a very urgent matter I needed to tend to.

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