The New Stage Moms/Dads

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I’ve written this in my head about twenty times today and then decided time and time again to not post it.

When you talk about intelligence and kids in the same sentence, people tend to get their panties in a wad.

First off, personal experience.

I was always the child who preferred adults and much older children to kids of my own chronological age; I was always the “mature” kid.  I can distinctly remember adults asking for my advice on relationships and such when I was eight and nine.

I was tested in Kindergarten for our school system’s Gifted and Talented Program and tested off of the charts.  I participated in Gifted and Talented until 6th grade when the program was disbanded and replaced with an “every one’s special” program where all of the kids were tested and then broken up into “color groups”.  All of the kids who I had been with during GT were still together but all the kids now were participating in more enriching activities.

Our GT program wasn’t really anything special and I feel that all kids [not just the “gifted” ones] should have been getting that kind of stuff on a daily basis as part of the curriculum.

I always finished my classwork early and did my homework in class while everyone else was working on their classwork.  The result was that I was the stereotypical bored smart kid and I know now that I also had/have ADD.  To combat my boredom, I would talk to the other kids in my classes.

Literally every single report card from my grade school years show very good marks accompanied by “Amy visits too much” or “Amy needs to learn to work more quietly” or my favorite “Amy is a disruption to the class and should not help other students”.

Since I had already been labeled as highly gifted, my teachers were at a loss as to what to do with me and their only recourse [they thought] was to dock me on my “citizenship” score on my report cards.  I got tons of grief for this at home but never learned to keep my mouth shut.

During seventh grade, I took the ACT through Duke and scored better than a lot of the graduating high school seniors.  In high school, I took AP classes and recieved a full ride to one of our state’s universities.

My path to academic success was set!  I was smart.  I was going to school for free and life was good!

And then, I lost my scholarship.  My grades were mediocre because I didn’t have to do anything to get B’s and C’s and I had never learned how to study since I had never ever done so.  I ended up having to drop out of college because I couldn’t pay for it.

The point of all of that isn’t to show you how damn smart I am or to whine about how things turned out for me.  My life is pretty damn good [mainly because of Tucker] but I present to you my “smart person” story  illustrate a very important fact: intelligence is just a piece of the whole puzzle.

Being smart does NOT automatically equal success.

I see a lot of myself in Cara and I hear a lot of the same things said about her that were said about me.

Cara started crawling at like three months and walking at nine months or something.  I forget dates and would have to go back and look at pictures to give you exact dates.  She’s a remarkably quick study and picks up on things that you wouldn’t expect the average two year old to pick up on.  She started “pretend play” WAY earlier than the books say that she should have and she has moments of scary smarts.

Example: When we were in Millington stopped at a stop light, she was saying something from the backseat.  Quite honestly, Tucker and I were ignoring her since we were deep in our own conversation but Cara wouldn’t be ignored.  As the light turned green, I finally turned around and asked her what she was saying.  “PHONE STORE!!” as she pointed in front of our SUV.  My first thought was “what the fuck are you talking about?” but I looked in front of us and sure enough, there was an AT&T store in one of the shopping centers in front of our SUV.  We’ve been into the AT&T store twice with her and we’ve never mentioned that we were going to the “phone store”.  So, she made the connection of the logo and the fact that they sell phones there.  Maybe that’s not amazing, but it freaked us out just a bit.

I don’t consider Cara “amazing” or even “gifted”.  She’s just her.

Oliver is a much “happier” baby than Cara was.  He isn’t as advanced as Cara was at this age but he rolls from front to back and from back to front, has started scooting and crawling [FUCK!] and he developed his “social smile” way before he was “supposed” to.  Oliver examines things whereas Cara just dove into something.

I shy away from calling my kids “special” or “gifted” or whatever because I know what it’s like to have that label and what it’s like to not “live up to your potential”.

A disturbing trend that I’ve noticed starting to appear on message boards and on blogs is the “my kid is smarter than your kid” or “listen to how BRILLIANT!!! my kid is” and it scares me.  Let me be crystal clear here to minimize the hate mail that I’m already going to get from this.  I’m not saying that being proud of your kid is bad.  I’m not saying that bragging about your kid is bad.  What I AM talking about are the parents who are living vicariously through their kids and their intelligence.

These are the new stage moms/dads and I think that it’s sad and wrong.

There is a lot of data out there showing that some intelligence is inherited.  So, it would stand to reason that a mom who tested “highly gifted” and a dad who test “genius” would produce kids who are genetically predisposed to be smart.  But now we’re into the “nature vs nurture” land.

Tucker and I gave our kids the genetic stock to be smart and we try to provide enriching activities that they find interesting to foster positive development.  BUT, if either/both [or none] of my kids turn out to be geniuses, that DOES NOT mean that I win mother of the year.  While your children are, to a small degree, a reflection of your parenting abilities, there are severally neglected children who have still tested at genius levels.  I can guarantee you that their parents did NOT receive any parenting accolades and all the parents did was donate a bit of genetic material.

Be proud of your kids.  Whether they’re retarded, normal, smart, gifted, geniuses, whatever!  Life’s hard enough for a kid without having their parents constantly comparing them to other kids because of something that their parents are lacking.