Dear Journal: Common Sense

I heart Common SenseDear Journal,

My oldest child is turning 9 on Saturday, and I honestly can’t tell you where the years went. What I can tell you is that she’s too smart by half when it comes to some things, and not quite there when it comes to others. That’s how everyone is. It’s only the specific things that separate us from each other. For example, when I was her age I was really good at figuring out adults and what was really going on in life, but I was horrible at the common sense aspect of things. I trusted way too many people, most of whom gave me reason later to regret those decisions.

And I think that problem is one that many people have, that lack of common sense: knowing who to trust, which situations to avoid, etc. If it were really so common then why do so many people lack it? I guess I realized a long time ago that I didn’t know how to combat it myself, but it still drives me insane that it’s something I have no control over. See, I’m someone who needs to compartmentalize things, to put them in neat, tidy little boxes that I can open when I need to and tuck away when I’m tired of them. I can’t do that with common sense.

I think I read somewhere once that common sense can’t be taught, that it can only be experienced, that usually it comes about by way of an epiphany, a life-changing experience that breaks through the wall we constructed to keep us away from it. Common sense, that is. My mother has an awful lot of it, and it’s one thing I have always envied her for. My wife too is brilliant at common sense, recognizing what’s what, and doing things about it. Maybe that’s not a coincidence, either, that one of the biggest things I lack happens to be something the two most influential women in my life have in spades. I’ll admit I ask my wife a lot of common sense questions, and she rarely shakes her head anymore at me.

So when I knew we were pregnant (yes, I do the “we” thing) I just prayed to god that our child would have common sense, that it wouldn’t be something missing (or very low) like it is with me. I don’t wish that on anyone, much less my kids, but I think god has a sick sense of humor (thank you, Depeche Mode) because so far it appears the oldest has inherited that from me. Luckily for us the youngest appears to have gotten a good dose of common sense from her mother. Now I have to work hard to instill something in my child that I lack. Good thing my wife’s around, and not making fun of me for it anymore.

At least I don’t still put lasagna in the oven with the plastic still on. Oy.

Sam

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