“You know that this next one might be normal, right? And that’s ok?” I’ll never forget sitting in the doctor’s office with our daughter for her eighteen month appointment and hearing those words come out of our doctor’s mouth. He repeated them 6 months later after reading what has become a novella of Becca’s skills and abilities. We have yet to know if our tiny Little Bear will be blessed/cursed with his sister’s brilliant mind. Heaven help us.
And yes, I said it. Her brilliant mind. Boo is smart. Not just smart, but brilliant. There. I’ve finally been brave enough to say it. I skirt around the truth with even my closest friends because I don’t want them to seem like I’m bragging, or Heaven forbid, putting down their kids because they don’t have the same skills she does and they are 10-12 months older. I have recently found a FABULOUS resource in a woman named Colleen who writes over at Raising Lifelong Learners. And reading some of her posts has empowered me to quit hiding behind the phrase “Becca is really smart.” To finally say “Becca is gifted,” and to not worry about what any one says. I’m going to hold my head high and admit to it. Because maybe then I’ll finally one day meet a parent here in San Antonio who can actually relate to the wonderful, horrible thing that it is to be the parent of a gifted child.
I guess I first started noticing it when her vocabulary took off, but some kids are just verbal. I noticed it when she loved to sit and pour over books for LONG periods of time, but some kids are just really into picture books. I noticed it when she loved watching tv and would spout back the correct answers or repeat things from the show hours later, but ALL kids love tv. Somewhere in there, though, the Elementary Education teacher with Elementary and Early Childhood certification, 5 years of teaching experience, and a masters degree in curriculum development with emphasis on data and testing analysis started seeing things that just weren’t right.
Not that it isn’t great that she could recognize the planet Saturn at 19 months and at 23 months looked at the sky and said “I see Saturn, Mommy? No, not see Saturn. Is too far way. Need lelescope.” But the fact that she knows what Saturn looks like, knows it’s out there in the sky somewhere too far away to see with the human eye, and knows that to look into space she needs a telescope… well, that might be a sign. I can almost hear Jeff Foxworthy now: “you know your child is gifted when…here’s your sign.”
She knows her instruments by sight and sound – LOTS of them. You can ask her “what instrument is that?” and she’ll look at you like “why did you ask me that?” and say “trumpet, Mommy.” (insert a duh! here.) She knows her colors, and wants to know more. She knows that the letters on the crayon wrappers are words that will tell us the name, and will now hand me a crayon and say “Is not bweuw. What is it? Looks bweuw. But not.” Welcome to the world of crazy Crayola colors, young Grasshopper.
She knows her shapes. All of them. She knows that all the “agons” are confusing, so she’ll say “is octagon? No. Not a stop sign. Is hexagon? Less count, Mommy.” And will count the sides. Her one-to-one correspondence isn’t quite there yet, so she’ll end up counting the sides of a pentagon twice and will say “what called when has ten sides, mommy?” Cue mommy googling “ten sided shape name” because it’s been a while since I taught it, and honestly folks, it was in the teachers’ guide! When do I need to know that a ten sided shape is a decagon? Not important in my world. Until now. Because she cares. And she wants to know. And I’m sure she’ll remember. Because she remembers EVERYTHING.
She can recognize and name almost all of her letters – in ANY order, and wants to know all the sounds they make and searches for them on street signs and billboards. She can spell “stop” and is quick to tell you that an octagon is always supposed to be red and say “s-t-o-p.” She watches the show Super Why (geared toward 4-7 year olds) and has amazed me by starting to show that she recognizes basic sight words. She’s two, folks. Barely two. 25 months old in two days. And she’s reading and spelling and devouring everything we can teach her, and everything the tv (via PBS and Disney Jr) can teach her. It’s amazing.
And yet it’s agonizing. Because while her brain and mental abilities are at the level of a four and a half – five year old, and her body looks like a four and a half year old, her social and emotional skills are right on track. She’s definitely two. All day long. And then some. She’s like a brilliant train wreck, just waiting to happen. Take her toys away? Look out. Tell her it’s time to clean up but she wants to play longer? Sometimes she’ll reason with you and say “I play two more minutes, set timer?” or other times she’ll just start cleaning up. But many times, she’ll just run off into the other room with her favorite toy to attempt to extend her play time.
How do you discipline the child who will do something, look straight at you and say “no time out”? You give her a swat and put her in time out anyway. Because she clearly knows she just did something wrong, knows the punishment for it, and is testing to see if MAYBE this time you will let her get away with it. It’s a daily struggle for control in our household. It’s almost like she can see the future and knows that in just a few short years she will have sucked both of us dry for knowledge and will be our mental superiors.
God entrusted us with this child, and we will do the best we can with what knowledge we have been given. We will discipline, we will teach, we will succeed, and we will fail. But most of all, we will love – because some days, that’s all we know how to do. And I can do that with 500% accuracy. I love this little angel with all my heart – even when she’s far from acting like an angel.