A Little Ray of Sunshine

Monday, May 15, 2006

IQ does not count common sense

I grew up in a family of geniuses. Literally. So I am quite sure that I can say that IQ has nothing to do with common sense. Or communication ability. Or observational powers.
Last night, I found myself explaining to my mother, who has been married to my father for 34 years, that the reason why he didn't feed the new type of dog food to the dog who was supposed to get it was because he was talking to my husband and I at the same time, and was therefore feeding the dogs on autopilot. "Dad only thinks about one thing at a time, Mom. We were picking apart the problems with socialism. He was feeding the dogs by habit. He wasn't thinking about what he was doing."
My mother cannot believe that her husband does not multitask. Dad does not multitask. He has NEVER multitasked. If he is doing anything, ANYTHING, and you ask him if he could please do some task when he gets a chance, he will blow up because you have just distracted him. He is not capable of keeping two different subjects in his brain at once. If you sucessfully get him to think of the other subject, he will be unable to return to the first without someone else referencing his last comments. As in, Dad is talking about the exoskeleton of crabs. I spot a rare and unusual bird at the feeder and point it out. When the bird has flown away, Dad does not even recall that crabs were the subject of conversation.
Dad, on the other hand, is just as incapable, in his own way, of understanding Mom. Thus he says he will never cook dinner again for them. "Why?" "Because if I leave one dirty dish on the counter she throws a fit." Well, first off, Mom does not throw fits, she throws snide, manipulative, nasty little comments. Dad is the one who throws fits.
I glanced at my husband, who looked confused. Dad's definition of leaving one dirty dish on the counter would match anyone else's definition of leaving not a single clean plate, bowl, or utinsel anywhere in the entire house, and scattering dirty items over every flat surface available. My husband, having never lived with them, does not understand this. I clarified later, in private. We had a good laugh. My husband: "I'm glad I didn't ask him why he didn't wash that one dish when he did all the others. I almost did."
Back to Dad:
"Mom cleans up everything when she cooks. So she thinks that if you cook, that's her night off, and she shouldn't have to clean up. You don't clean up when she cooks." I explained.
"Well, if she won't clean up, she won't get any nights off." Dad says. Dad completely misses that it is less actual labor for Mom to cook dinner and clean up afterwards than it is for Mom to clean up after Dad cooks. Dad is a very good cook, but everything is left a disaster. Mom is a big fan of the one pot cooking method.
My husband said, last night, after we got home: "You know, when your parents are talking, I can't understand what they're talking about. And you know, I don't think they know either. I think they're having two completely different conversations and thinking they're talking about the same subject." Me: "You didn't know that? I'm sorry, I guess I didn't think to tell you. They've always done that. That's why they always have the same fights, over and over again."
Somehow or other, they've managed to make this work for 34 years. It's a habit, now. Mom will keep sniping at Dad for leaving messes. Dad will keep throwing temper tantrums when Mom snipes at him. Then they both complain to us about how unreasonable the other one is. It used to be just me, but now they include my husband in the complaints.
We're very careful about how much time, when, and where the boys spend time with them. It's going to break Mom's heart, because she's just dying to have the boys do sleepovers at her house, and go out camping with them, but unless my folks learn to bite their tongues, that's not going to happen. Not until the boys are much, much older.
But trust me, these people are really, truly, far above average intellegence. So are/were their parents, and so are my mom's siblings. I'm left with the conclusion that while intellegence is wonderful, it isn't enough by itself. I'm sure my children will be in that same intellegence range. Whatever the genetic component of intellegence is, those genes run in the family. I just hope we can impart some common sense and some abilities to observe and communicate with others to go along with it. (Incedentally, my husband's IQ has never been tested, unless you count those little online tests, which I don't, but since he does just fine keeping up with me . . . He likes to claim he's just a dumb African, and I tell him I'm not dumb enough to marry a man who isn't smarter than me. One of those little married-people rituals we have.)
I suspect that someone possessed of an average IQ and a healthy dose of common sense is more likely to suceed than someone with a high IQ and no common sense, less likely to be misled, and more likely to be content.


  • At 10:56 AM, May 16, 2006, Anonymous Res Ipsa said…

    People with high IQ often have difficultly relating to other people. Sometimes the high IQ will coincide with strong left/right brain dominance. Other times the high IQ person assumes that other people can perceive the same things that they do and that they take for granted, so they leave out little pieces of info that normal people would include.

  • At 12:49 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger CrazyJo said…

    You're right on. I read an article a while back on EQ vs. IQ. EQ is Emotional Quota, or how you relate to people. They said that IQ was no indication of success, and that people with lower IQ but good EQ did better in life than people with higher IQ but low EQ.

  • At 8:53 PM, May 23, 2006, Blogger Arielle said…

    Y'know, my husband and I have those conversations in which neither understands the other - hopefully it isn't naive of me to hope that we'll be better communicators than that in 34 years!


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