At lunch recently, a friend said that her adult children will sometimes look at her condescendingly and say, “You didn’t know that?” That makes her feel foolish and inadequate because of not having a college degree when they do. But that happens to all of us at times—not knowing something everyone else seems to have known forever.
College degrees mean nothing when it comes to truly being educated. My mother was so self-educated that only her family realized she never went to college. In fact, after she died a woman said to me, “I just wanted to extend my sympathy. Your mother was my lawyer and helped me so much.” Yes, she worked in my brother’s law office and often counseled with his clients, but we were amused that the woman never realized Mother was not one of the Bradley lawyers in the Bradley Law Office.
I’m constantly surprised at what people know and what they don’t. Age matters not. From my grandchildren to my grandparents, knowledge and lack thereof is startling.
When one grandson was four, something happened as we were in the car together. He said, “Well, that was awkward!”
With true sisterly scorn, his older sibling said, “You don’t even know what ‘awkward’ means!”
“It means ‘uncomfortable,” he answered. Yes, it does. But not a word a four-year-old often uses.
When she was younger, she would also surprise us with vocabulary at times. At age four, she called when we were out and had to leave voice mail. She said, “Well, I recognize that you aren’t home, so I’ll just say hello and I love you!” The “recognize” cracked me up.
When our son first learned to drive, I was surprised at how often he needed directions to get to a familiar place. His academic skills were outstanding, but he’d never paid attention to how we were getting places.
I clearly recall going up to my second grade teacher and asking how to spell “was.” “Why, Lanita Bradley!” she exclaimed loudly. “You surely know how to spell ‘was’!” Talk about humbling. Right in front of my peers. I think my southern pronunciation was more like “wuz” and yet I knew I’d never seen that in print.
Of course that’s extended into adulthood, where I’m often learning something others have always known—or maintaining silence about my ignorance. A dear twenty-something friend loved a Footlocker commercial that I only understood part of. I know who Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Dennis Rodman are. The others featured are obviously icons, but I don’t recognize them. Have to love the Tyson-Holyfield part, though!
People surprise me with what they do and don’t know about scripture. When a young woman said, “Well, wasn’t it Jezebel that washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair?” I couldn’t help but laugh.
When a reserved person suddenly spoke up in Sunday class and said, “Well, isn’t that referring to the bronze serpent in Numbers 21?” I was startled. Just as though we all know exactly what stories are in Numbers 21!
So what are some other examples of surprisingly knowing or not knowing?