Friday, February 8, 2013

Confessions of an Embarrassed Intellectual

"Whoa! I think I can see through the wall with these things!"

First, let me tell you that this was a difficult post to write. It's hard for me to actually put into words what I think and feel on this subject. Plus, I'm sure that there are those out there who are going to read their own prejudices into it and misunderstand what I am saying. Let me say that first and foremost, I love my daughter. There is nothing in the world that would make me love her less than I do now, and I love her more and more every single day. She is my life. Every thought I have involves her.

So, now it's confession time. I sometimes worry that my daughter isn't super-duper smart. In a "high IQ" sort of way. She has her own talents and gifts, but she has been a little behind the curve on the milestones, like crawling and walking and talking. I feel guilty that it's somehow my fault. I went back to work too soon. I didn't breastfeed long enough. I didn't buy the right brain-stimulating baby toys. I feel embarrassed as I listen to other parents talk about their "advanced" children and as I answer why Squid isn't doing those things yet. Then, of course, I feel guilty because I feel embarrassed. It's a vicious cycle and I haven't figured out how to get out of it.

I feel bad because I am sure part of the issue is my geekiness. Cerebral pursuits are important to me and my spouse. We're readers. We're gamers. We were both in drama. I was a in speech and debate in high school and started out as a biology major in college. I even belonged to Mensa for a short while.

Again, don't misunderstand what I am saying. It's not that I would judge Squid for not testing off the charts or for not being labelled "gifted". I just worry that she would feel bad, knowing that mom and dad are such nerds, if she isn't. I don't want her to feel that we don't understand or couldn't understand her. I don't want her worrying about trying to prove something to us and not learning to appreciate her own unique gifts and qualities.

And I am proud of who she is already, regardless of any future test scores. I mean, have you read any of this blog? She is charismatic in a way I will never be. She already shows a talent for spatial reasoning that boggles her father and me.And she is flat-out hilarious. I laugh every day at one antic or another.

I know that her attitude is going to be completely dependent on my attitude. And I am trying to formulate a game plan that covers all possibilities. But I am totally flying blind on this. I'm taking it day by day, hoping that inspiration strikes and that I will see the golden opportunities to nudge her in the right directions. At the same time, I don't want to ever downplay my own smarts, because I NEVER want her to think that women should pretend to be dumb for society's sake. I would rather her be over-confident in her self-worth and intelligence than ever think of herself as "less than".

I really want her to understand that I don't value brains above all else. I would completely give up a bunch of IQ points if I could trade them in for social skills. Plus, there is a lot of pressure on smart people to be smart all the time and in all things. And if you aren't, you are either lazy or just not that smart. I also value hard work over natural talent, because I've learned that hard work is what gets you places. Natural talent only gets a toe in the door.

But, Squid is only 19 months old. There is so much time for her to grow into the person she will become. For now, we read to her as often as she will sit still and let us. We expose her to as many experiences as we can for her age. We pepper our praises with "You worked very hard at that!" "Wow, you were able to figure that out all by yourself!" just as often as we say "You are so smart!" We take it a day at a time and try not to obsess about what the future holds.

1 comment:

  1. She's 19 months give her a couple years before you make a judgement call on her progression not all kids advance the same skills in the same way... The way she runs down the hall snags Greg's chair and beverage shows a brainy kid... so she's going to be a rogue instead of a mage they still need to be pretty brilliant bastards to survive long. We were worried about Sera she was a little behind her cousin a month and change older in letters and numbers and writing her name, but she's pretty good at being a sneaky little brat and she memorizes movie lines and songs pretty quickly and she faked being able to read the first few pages of hop on pop from rote memorization. just because she's not progressing where you're looking doesn't mean she's not flat out beating the shit out of kids in areas you're not paying attention to.