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Once when my son was 5, we got into a prolonged debate about whether the saxophone belonged in the brass section or the woodwinds section of the orchestra.

I was really confident about my answer, because, after all, saxophones are made of brass and look very much like other instruments in the brass section. Also, because I’m an adult and he was a child and adults are traditionally right, or so they think.

But would you believe the saxophone is a woodwind? It’s absurd and clearly I’m not wrong, whoever categorized it is wrong, but the point is that he was technically right.

He’s incredibly intelligent, and not just in a my-kid-is-smart way, but in a verifiably tested what-the-heck-do-we-do-now kind of way. He also collects knowledge like others collect action figures — the more rare or obscure, the better.

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After a few more incidents like the woodwinds vs. brass debate, I started to doubt the veracity of everything I thought I knew, and definitely lost my confidence in correcting him. Once I was adamant about how there was no gravity in space (this one I knew because astronauts were always floating around up there) and he very patiently explained the concept of microgravity to me, using real world examples of roller coasters and trying to clarify how and why gravity is different on different planets. I don’t really remember how or why, because I wasn’t at all sure that it was true, but he was so certain that I finally just accepted it.

Now he’s 14, an age for being a know-it-all in general, on top of actually knowing a lot. He’s also started to realize that I accept his intelligence at face value, having lost all confidence in my own. And he takes advantage of that.

“Did you know dabbing is illegal in Thailand?” he said recently, referring to a dance move.

“That’s absurd!” I said. “It must be cultural. I wonder what started the need to legislate that?”

He often drops these little tidbits of knowledge into random conversations, it’s like living with a walking, breathing trivia game.

“Did you hear they’re making a reboot of 'Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,' but about him dealing with PTSD after the Gulf War?” he announced on another day.

“Are you serious? That’s ridiculous — this whole Hollywood reboot thing is out of control. Who would even want to watch that?” I went on a rant about what Ferris Bueller and his carefree antics meant to my generation and how disappointing it was to invite tragedy into that.

“How weird is it that turtles can temporarily share a shell while mating?” he stated casually one day after I picked him up from school. That one stopped me. We have turtles and they seem very attached to their shells.

“Are you sure about that? I mean, hermit crabs, probably, but turtles? Think of how Salmonella looks in her shell, she couldn't leave it…” I trailed off, considering the logistics of that but not entirely discounting it.

He screwed up his face and laughed. “I’m kidding, mom. I’ve been making this stuff up for days. Dabbing isn’t illegal in Thailand, there’s no Ferris Bueller reboot, and of course turtles can’t leave their shell — how on earth do you believe these things? You’re a reasonably intelligent adult and you’re like, yep, maybe turtles can leave their shells!”

It was an important — and entertaining — lesson in critical thinking and not believing everything you hear. The sort of lesson the parent is supposed to teach the child, and not vice versa. But honestly, I was just happy to be called reasonably intelligent, and to know that Ferris Bueller won’t be forced to grow up after all.

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Ashley McCann editorializes the messes and mayhem of motherhood as a columnist and blogger. Named to Ignite Social Media's "100 Women Bloggers You Should Read," her candid humor and frank advice puts a fresh spin on modern family life. 

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