Smarter by Far

Two realizations came slowly, delayed, perhaps,by the enormous physical fact of the Pacific Ocean. I lived on one side of it. Each of my offspring was on the other. I’d long since slowed in the area of intellectual development, each of them had begun to sprint, each a calling far different from my own. Each has also far outstripped the whatever graduate study achievement I’d reached in my 20s.  

Yesterday afternoon I sat in an audience listening at my son’s doctoral dissertation defense. His field is Chemistry, and his school is Northwestern University in Illinois. Following the “public” part of the defense most of us were dismissed and a professors questioned him directly. After an hour of that he was told, “congratulations Doctor.” 


Before yesterday distance allowed me to pretend that though his achievements in Chemistry far outdistance anything I’ll ever make in any field, I was still OK. I’d been willing to grant him superiority here or there, but I felt that having 40 more years of life experience counted for a greater “breadth of accumulation”.  I can no longer maintain that facade.


The other Dr. Alexander in the family took her advanced degree in East Asia Languages and Cultures 3 years ago.  I’d probably told myself that my additional 35 years of accumulation PLUS being residence in East Asia likely had me ahead of her, for a while. That’s been thrown into re-evaluation, too. Another facade falls.

They’re smarter than me, smarter by far. They’ve been so for a long time. God love ‘em. 

Now I can relax.


David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.