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Obviously, the Child is a Genius

by Tyler Gilmore

My brother is really smart, and when he was young he was especially inquisitive. Once, when he was about three, he was asking our grandfather why the light inside the refrigerator came on when he opened the refrigerator door. Our grandfather showed him that there was a button that was pressed when the door was closed and that when it was released the light would come on inside. But that was not enough for my brother. He wanted to know why; why did the light have to come on at all? Finally, exasperated, our grandfather simply told him that is the way refrigerators work and that the light came on in the oven when you opened the door as well. Well, our oven at the time happened to be right beside the refrigerator. While my brother peered through the glass window of the oven door, he reached over and opened the refrigerator door one more time. Of course, that was not what our grandfather meant, and the light inside the oven did not come on. “No it doesn’t!” my brother indignantly cried, and everyone in the room laughed at him.

My family loves to tell this story. On the one hand, they are making fun of my brother for making such a silly mistake. In that sense, the story has a touch of irony to it, given that my brother was then and still is highly intelligent. On the other hand, though, it shows that my brother was always questioning what he was told and trying to dig deeper and deeper into things. When our grandfather gave an ambiguous explanation of what was going on with the refrigerator door, my brother eagerly jumped all over what he interpreted as false information. All kids are inquisitive at that age, so it may easily have turned out that this story would have been forgotten. Apparently my family felt that it exemplified certain key characteristics about my brother’s personality, though. So it stuck.

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