Please stop talking about how smart your child is. Please stop bragging to anyone who will listen (and many who’d rather not!) about how Justin knew his colors at 3 months and was reading the Wall Street Journal at 12! Please don’t bore me with the details of how to teach your toddler long division before they are potty trained. I’m really not that interested.
I’ve worked with thousands of children in the last 15 years– as a teacher, as a summer camp director, and as a healthcare professional. I hate to break it to you, Mom, but although Justin may be reading Chaucer before bed, he hits when he’s angry and eats his boogers when he’s bored….or when he’s boogery…or hungry…or it’s a day of the week ending in ‘y’.
Justin is average, at best. I’m so sorry to dash your illusions! I know you were thinking that having a “smart” child means you’re a great parent. I know you were measuring your success rate by his test scores, and the speed at which he is hitting classic developmental milestones. I know you feel validated that he’s being tested for the ‘gifted’ program at school.
IF little Justin IS in fact “smart”….let’s say, for the sake of argument he’s a GENIUS (which, frankly, is unlikely), does that make him GOOD?
Does it make him kind?
Does he have self-discipline? A heart for serving others? Is he a good sport? Is he fair? Does he love or know the Lord?
Wouldn’t you rather answer “yes” to these questions, regardless of those test scores?! Let’s not forget– ‘smart’ is not a measure of character!
Please take some time to re-evaluate why you care so much about ‘smart’. Is it the culture of Baby Einstein videos? Something about your personal values? Something society tells you is most important? Stop and ponder for a moment… what if little Justin WASN’T so “smart”?
What if little Justin didn’t walk until he was two years old? What if he never walked at all!?
What if Justin couldn’t speak until he was three?
What if he was still strugging with learning his colors in kindergarten, or couldn’t learn to read until third grade?
What if?! Would Justin be less of a person? Would you love him, and celebrate the miracle of his life, LESS? Would you be embarassed at the playground, with nothing to brag about? Would you be disappointed?
I am a special needs parent. My child didn’t walk until she was two years old. My child didn’t speak until three and half years of age, and even now, at age 5, her language is sometimes unintelligible. Although her IQ is average to high, she is struggling to learn to read. She can not sit still in class. She can not control her emotions and has a hard time in gym class becuase she does not understand games with multiple rules. When the gym teacher says “knock down the other team’s bowling pin”, she does not understand why the other team keeps getting in her way, preventing her from doing as he’s asked.
Is she smart? Who can say? The truth is I don’t really care. I want her to work to her potential, whatever that may be, because I want her to be determined, tenacious, and committed, not because the test score validates her…or me for that matter! I want to raise a child who is honest, fair, faithful, generous, truthful, humble and kind. I can honestly tell you we’re not there yet. She is some of those things, and some of those things need work. She’s in kindergarten, after all!
Today in gym class, Little Scribbler and her two buddies from the special ed kindergarten were having a hard time understanding the rules of Steal the Bacon. They participate with a general ed kindergarten during art, music, and PE. Little Scribbler also joins the general ed kindergarten for Math and Reading. She and her buddies don’t understand Steal the Bacon. They break the rules. Other “smart” children yell at them and belittle them for not understanding. They get indignant that LS and her buddies stepped across the center line of the gym. They are angry that their team didn’t win, because LS and her buddies don’t understand. These kids. These ‘smart’ kids.
And then, in the middle of 45 screaming five year olds, a little girl in a white hair bow steps across the line, from her side of the gym to LS’s side of the gym. She picks up four balls, and hands one each to LS and her buddies. She shows them how to play. They cross the line again. She retrieves the balls, guides them back to where they belong, and repeats her explaination. It goes on for 20 minutes.
THAT is a child who’s mother should be bragging. That child is kind, self-donative, patient, compassionate and loving. That is a child who can’t stand to see other children suffering, even in this small way, and takes matters into her own hands. That child has character worth bragging about. I wonder who that child will grow up to be. I bet she’ll be someone I’d want to know.
Food for thought.
The Faithful Scribbler