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Checkers, Jelly Beans and Precocious Children

Shawnna told me some time ago that unless she watches carefully, five-year-old Cole can beat her in checkers. Since he’s been here with us the past few days, he has challenged numerous people to such games, and when he wins, he swaggers and grins. He beats 9 year old Gentry (who is very bright) frequently, but not all the time, has beat one nameless adult who lives in this house, and has almost beat his Granny a couple of times. (No one can beat 4 year old Brady though, for when he plays, he just starts picking up any checkers he wants and puts them on his stack.) Once I was ready to call a game with Cole a draw, but I was able to redeem myself, and am I ever glad I persisted. I was feeling quite embarassed. For some reason, even during my childhood, I have never played checkers very much, but, even so, I should easily be able to hold my own against a five-year-old!

Now consider this:


Math prodigy corrects Discovery Place

Exhibit pulled after boy shows it doesn’t add up


Part of the new exhibit on candy has been removed from Discovery Place. And you can thank Parker Garrison.

When the 8-year-old math whiz at Charlotte Christian visited the “Jelly Belly Presents Candy Unwrapped” display, he accepted the challenge: Use equations to calculate how many jelly beans were in a pyramid and other containers.

His mother, Donna, didn’t want to wait while he tried all the formulas. So she copied the numbers he needed, and he took the problems home.

That’s when he realized something was wrong.

For years, Parker has amazed his parents and teachers with his math skills. When he was 3, his parents could tell him which coins they had in their pocket, and he’d add the total in his head. The remainder of this fascinating article is here.

(Edit: 7:38 I am sorry, but since I posted this, the article does not seem to be readily available without signing up with the Charlotte newspaper. I’ll see if I can find it in a more convenient place.)

This story pleases me on a couple of levels:

1. The brilliance of this child fascinates me.

2. His mother’s patience with writing down the questions is admirable.

3. Parker’s confidence in his own figures, so that he would challenge a whole museum display.

4. The dad’s being willing to call the museum and report the error.


My daily devotional is here.

By Shirley Buxton

Still full of life and ready to be on the move, Shirley at 81 years old feels blessed to have lots of energy and to be full of optimism. She was married to Jerry for 64 years, and grieves yet at his death in August of 2019. They have 4 children, 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren...all beautiful and highly intelligent--of course. :)

13 replies on “Checkers, Jelly Beans and Precocious Children”

Jim, thank you for visiting my blog and for the link to more news about Parker.

Congratulations on having such a fine son.

Would you care to comment on Jonathan’s remarks? Comment 7. I would be interest to hear from you concerning this questions.

Blessings and joy to you and your family.


Jonathan, thank you for visiting my blog. Hope you come by often.

I’m not sure how this story became a news item; possibly it was the museum who told the story to the press, and indeed, I consider that a worthy story.

It is possible, I suppose, that parents could use their children’s intelligence in a negative sort of way. I’m not sure that is the situation, here.

Perhaps we will find out.


If you google it, you can go directly to the page that has the article and the video the paper filmed. You can also go to and see the interview the local NBC anchorman did on Thursday. Just type in ‘jelly beans’ in their video search box. It should be there until the 15th.

Parker’s dad


Thank you for checking on me Shirley. I was pretty much out of it for a week with a nasty bug. Ugh! Thank God it’s gone!

This kid makes me feel like a cave man. I can count my fingers. (barely!)


Whenever I read about a prodigy of any kind, I always wonder about the motives of the parents who are putting their child into the public arena.

“Living their life through their child’s eyes” comes to mind.


See if it had been me I simply would have eaten the jelly beans, divided the sum of the remainder by 2 (because I have two pockets in which to carry them away!)and calculated the distance home multiplied by the time it takes to get there and left it at that!

Smart kids amaze me – parents who let the kids be smarter than they are are even more amazing!


Hello, Jon. Glad the article loads for you, so I’ll just leave it alone.

I love that story and all its ramifications, including the response from the parents. Can you imagine the look on the face of the man at the museum who received the call from Parker’s dad? Love it!


Hmm, the article loads just fine for me. And yes, that’s quite an exceptional child, and you’ve got to respect his parents for giving him the freedom to check the problems himself.


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