Milestones

My Child Is Officially Stronger Than Me (And Probably Smarter, Too)

There comes a time in every parent’s life when their children outshine them. For me, that moment arrived when my son recently surpassed me in a feat of strength – and in other ways, too.

I was trying to open a jar of fancy nut butter (the kind that comes in a glass jar with a metal lid), and I couldn’t get it open for the life of me. The fact that I had recently hurt my neck, probably doing something dangerous like carrying groceries or a 5-minute “core strength” exercise video, didn’t help. My son, now 11 years old, was eating his breakfast while I grunted at the jar and tried not to swear.

Apparently, declining hand strength is a common complaint in adults as they age. So I really am losing my grip on reality (okay, maybe just jars and cans).

“I got it, Mom,” my son said. He tapped the lid of the jar a few times with a butter knife — a trick his father often uses to open jars, but which wasn’t working for me — and then twisted. I heard that telltale pop. He’d successfully opened the jar with minimal effort on his part. “Here you go,” he said, proudly handing the open jar to me.

Suddenly, I knew how my mom felt when my sister and I were kids and figured out new-fangled technology like the VCR.

But now? My child is officially stronger than me. Not to mention faster (actually, he could outrun me when he was only a toddler — although, to be fair, I am very slow, and he could outrun most people. There is a guy from my town who plays football for the NFL, and my son once ran faster than him at a local track).

He’s more adept with technology: He’s currently learning coding in his technology class, and he knows how to use the television in our house that requires three separate remote controls.

He might even be funnier than me. When I got a new egg cooker recently and started cracking jokes about it being egg-cellent and egg-citing, he said, “Mom, you need to egg-spand your repertoire of egg jokes.” Zing!

The kid is definitely better at math than I am, and he’s probably smarter than me in general. When trying to explain some things in the news to him recently, I was astounded by his knowledge of both current events and world history (“I read about the fall of the Berlin Wall in a book,” he told me). He’s talking about joining a stock club at school, where the kids pretend to invest in the stock market, but honestly, whatever he picks, I might just invest in for real.

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they see their children surpass them in large and small ways. It’s the natural order of things. As parents, we hope that our children will be as happy and successful — however you, or your kids, define those things — as we are, if not more so. Each generation hopes the next generation will have it all (solving global warming and figuring out how we can all earn good salaries while only working four days a week).

I want my son to surpass me in as many ways as he can.

As for my ability to open jars? When we were in the supermarket the other day, my son spied something called the “Mighty Gripper,” a rubbery pad that promises to make opening things easier. “Get a grip!” the package said.

“That looks like something you could use, Mom,” he said to me. Indeed, I do need to get a grip.

The four-pack of Mighty Grippers was only a couple of bucks, so I bought it. Now I’m opening jars left and right with the assistance of the Mighty Gripper. But I know that if there’s a jar I can’t open, even with the assistance of the mighty Mighty Gripper, I can turn to my son for help.

As he and I get older, I suppose I’d better get used to looking to him for answers rather than the other way around. Time flies, and before I know it, I’ll be asking him to turn on the teleportation machine for me in the old folks’ home because I won’t know how to work that newfangled technology.

I bet he doesn’t know to get a VCR to record a TV show, though — okay, so I never quite figured that out either. But there’s still hope, right?

Janine Annett is the author of the humor book I Am "Why Do I Need Venmo?" Years Old. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Real Simple, Parents, and many other places. She lives in New York with her husband, son, and dog.