Advanced, Or Not?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Children all excel in different areas.  Some take longer to accomplish things than others, and some are strikingly advanced, others are pretty average in everything.  And I think most, like Miss Rose, are a mix of all three.

Today Miss Rose spent some time with the health visitor.  She was weighed and measured, 33lb and 105cm, and she had some conversation with her.  It was very relaxed, she was watched playing and chatting, and she was asked questions in a very casual way.  Just about what she likes doing, what food she likes to eat, and the people in her life.  A strop was witnessed, a negotiation about what she could do outside was observed, and how she interacted with her baby sister.

The conclusion?  In vocabulary, reasoning and imagination, Miss Rose is advanced.  Very advanced.  The word “incredible” was used more than once.  When I expressed the challenges of giving her enough stimulation and challenges during the school break, it was met with a laugh and the assurance that I couldn’t possibly do that because she needs more than I could give her.  This was both reassuring and seriously annoying.  Just because I’m right and not just being lazy doesn’t mean the challenge isn’t still present daily!  When complaining about the way she tests every boundary you set up for her, and challenges every rule, I was told emphatically that she does it to the extent she does because her brain is processing so much and she wants to understand her environment.  Again, nice to know… but doesn’t stop the fact I lose my mind dealing with the constant testing!

However, that’s not the real subject of my thoughts on this.

Miss Rose is advanced.  It’s not been a surprise to anyone.  Indeed, the comments I’ve had after updating my Facebook friends about this have all been that they could have told me that themselves.  But being advanced in certain areas brings with it huge challenges in others.

Because Miss Rose is tall for her age, walked and talked early, and has a far bigger vocabulary than other children her age, she is always assumed to be older.  And she is not advanced in so many other areas.

She is not advanced in her emotions.  Sure she has great empathy, and she is great to chat to, but she’s still just a three year old.  When she tantrums she is most definitely a three year old.  She stamps and shouts and rages.  But she looks older than she is and people judge her to just be a badly behaved child not a normal little kid doing what normal little kids do.

She is not advanced with numbers.  Her step brother Z is most definitely advanced with his numbers.  He is five months younger but recognises all of the numbers, can count consistently higher without error, and knows how to put two numbers together to make a new number.  Miss Rose, bless her, tries.  And fails.  She misses numbers out, puts them in the wrong order, and confuses numbers for other numbers.

She is not advanced with drawing.  I see pictures my friend’s children of the same age have drawn, some absolutely incredible and some normal child creations, and Miss Rose is most definitely not advanced.  Usually she just scribbles and draws wobbly lines.  She’s starting to make basic face shapes but nothing remarkable.  She loves art, don’t get me wrong, and wants to paint and craft every day.  But she’s not advanced.

We have known for a long time that she has a fast brain.  She reacts incredibly quickly to things, both in good and bad ways.  She knows when she’s unsupervised and will take advantage immediately for mischief, but she will also see if you’re feeling sad and rush to comfort you, or see that you’ve finished your drink and seek to replenish it immediately.  We also know the challenges that brings in raising her, she is EXHAUSTING.

But what I need to remember not to get ahead of her.  I need to not get too excited by her brain.  I don’t want to be a pushy parent, a stage mum.  I’m not getting her extra classes or making her study all day to enhance the areas she’s clever in.  And I don’t want to put pressure on her to perform.  She is advanced now, but she might not always be.  She could level out and be average, or she could discover strengths in areas she loves that are unexpected.  I don’t want to squash her down with efforts to boost her up.

I also don’t want her siblings to feel negatively compared beside her.  As I said, her brother Z is far more advanced in numbers than she is, and could well be advanced in other comparable areas too.  But currently little Baby B is just a baby so advanced in nothing except foot size.  I hate the idea of Miss Rose growing up feeling superior to her, and Baby B feeling inferior.  I don’t want B to feel less special or less important.  I don’t want her to feel she has to “live up” to her sister.  All she has to live up to is herself.

Miss Rose is an awesome, if completely draining, little human and I’m so proud of her.  She’s funny and kind and loving and wonderful.  And stroppy and demanding and exhausting.  And I love her.  And  I will continue to brag about her, continue to be amazed by her.  But I will also continue not to be blind to her.  To celebrate her strengths whilst being aware of her weaknesses.

And I shall regularly end the day with a big glass of wine and a happy dance that it’s bedtime and I can finally get some peace.

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