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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Smarter Than Who?

I can’t resist blogging this.

An email we received earlier in the week informed us that auditions for the TV game show, “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” would take place this weekend. They are looking for, well, fifth graders. The selection process began this morning in the Dairy Queen parking lot.

Well, as he is now a 5th grader, Jack qualifies. He is both smart and easy on the eyes, so I encouraged him to give it a go. After consulting with his cul-de-sac buddy, Hayden, Jack agreed. None of us has ever watched the show, though our neighbors have the board game, which we played once. It was a bomb. Bruce and I won the $1 million in one turn. Apparently, that means we are smarter than Jack.

Anyway, in order to participate, we had to sign-up inside the Dairy Queen. Sign-ups consisted of a list on a clipboard. We had to wait in the food-ordering line to get to the clipboard. So, for us, sign-ups consisted of putting Jack’s name down and then ordering five meals. It cost us $22. Jack was the tenth person to sign up.

There were maybe thirty or so kids auditioning this morning. I’m guessing that a number of kids who signed the list didn’t come to the actual auditions. We lined up according to the order in which we had originally signed up, so Jack went towards the beginning.

There was a panel of four “judges” sitting together under a tent, and in a separate tent, far enough away to not be intimidating, was a television camera.

There were three rounds of questions. Between rounds, we ate French fries and read our books. No one else was reading books. Honestly, not a single parent, 5th grader, or sibling. Jack was working on Charlie Bone number three, I was reading “Dreamers of the Day”, the new one by Mary Doria Russell (fantastic so far), and Sabrina was working on “Fantastic Mr. Fox” by Roald Dahl. Honestly, I couldn’t understand why we were the only three people there with reading material. Doesn’t everyone know that the word “audition” is synonymous with “waiting”? Hey, and don’t smart people read?

Anyway, Jack made it through the first three rounds. The questions got progressively “harder”.

The first one was: “How many kids would there be at a party attended by three sets of twins?”

The second questions: “Which field of play is the longest: a) soccer, b) football, or c) lacrosse?”

The third question was: “Which of the following shapes is not geometric: a) rectangle, b) cylinder, or c) sphere?”

(If you don’t know the answers to these three questions, then you are not smarter than a fifth grader. Apparently.)

Jack was the first kid to get through the third round, and though we probably should have stuck around to see who else made it, we split right after to go to Costco.

Jack, Sabrina and I were very excited. While we were getting ourselves buckled up in the car, we observed some of the other kids who didn’t make it. They were crying and upset, their hopes of fame and fortune dashed in the soggy Alaskan DQ parking lot. Meanwhile, Jack’s nose was already back in his book.

Finals are next Saturday from noon to 2pm. I have no idea how many kids Jack will be competing against. The “producers” were hoping for 20 or so for the final round. Whoever wins that will be flown down to Los Angeles on June 28th for the real finals. Like, in a television studio. I’m aquiver just thinking about it. Those aren’t impossible odds, are they?

Ignorance is bliss, I guess. When I got home, I finally Googled the TV show, which is on FOX and hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy. (An aside: did Sabrina positively jinx us when she was reading “The Fantastic Mr. Fox?”) When I pulled up their homepage, I saw there were photos of five kids on the webpage. For the first time the question popped into my head: “What, exactly, does one do on this TV show?” I was told that the kids are like this panel of “experts” that the competing adults can consult. I also heard that the team of kids competes against the adults. Any clarification would be appreciated. But the biggest question was this: “Do the kids who get through the selection process only go on one show, or is it for a whole season?” That changes things. Interesting.

Clearly, this isn’t a logistic problem for the moment. My head knows that the odds of even making the cut next week is slim. Bruce is, as always, reliably philosophical. Even making it through three rounds is a fun thing. And it’s a fun process, too. Fun to watch Jack do something very different and outside the norm, and fun to watch all the other kids and parents. But my heart, my poor dreamy little heart, it’s in my throat.


At 5:54 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Linda,

I lose. I don't know the answer to the sports field question. Shucks. Ever since sixth grade I had always assumed I was smarter than a fifth grader.

I wonder what that question has to do with intelligence, though?

My family has watched the show maybe twice. I've never seen the kids compete against the adults; they answer the questions, and then the adults can use their answers in various ways to get help.

Good luck to Jack (and to you).

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoo hoo! Way to go Jack! We've watched the show a couple of times. There is an adult trying to win money and 5th graders trying to help along the way. Not really too much kid against adult. More like adults looking dumb and kids saving the day. It's a fun show-Tyler enjoys it when we manage to catch it. Anyway, Good Luck to everyone! We know how auditions can be :-) BTW- I would have been one of the dumb parents who didn't think to bring a book :-) Love you all-K


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