My son is brilliant. I know most people believe their children are brilliant and bombard complete strangers with pictures and statuses about how their children’s brilliance outshines the brilliance of the average star…but my kid actually is. Trust me on this, I’m a professional. I know kids. They’re my genius.
So with my genius kid radar on FLEEK (yep I used fleek in a sentence), I can say with authority that my kid is brilliant.
Now I’ll quantify, I believe that every person is a genius. It’s one of the lessons I teach in the therapy I practice with children and youth. The goal of childhood and latency adolescence is to identify and bloom your genius. The role of the caring adults in your life is to nurture and feed that genius so that it blooms for good and not evil.
So you see, when I say my kid is brilliant I’m telling the complete truth. Your kid is brilliant too. And that is also the truth.
But back to MY genius. He’s brilliant in a way that totally eludes me as his mother. His genius is in relationships. I’m #TeamIntrovert. My kid is the quarterback for #TeamExtrovert. Wherever we go, he makes a friend. No matter where we are, no matter what we’re doing if I blink he’s in conversation and has developing a close personal relationship with a complete stranger. Nope, it’s not like that. He’s not that kid who’s like, “You wanna be my friend?” And then gets all clingy and attached in ways that make other people wonder, “Does he get out much…or at all?”
No. My kid is the kid who walks in a room and 3 seconds in is like, “So do you like pepperoni on your pizza cause I do and if you don’t like pepperoni on your pizza it’s fine because when you order pizza you can split what goes on it and then everybody can have what they like? Pizza is my favorite. What about you?”
See what he did there. He instantly engaged you in a conversation that not only gave you insight into who he is as a person, pepperoni pizza connoisseur. But he drew you in because now you’re thinking about what you eat on your pizza and maybe you even have a memory of sharing a pizza with someone who picked a different topping from you and bam, you’ve got a new friend. My kid.
I’d love to say that I taught him this skill. That he does this because he’s watched me doing my social work thing in regular life. But that’s not true because in regular life I’m all like, “Dude can we just go inside the store and get this list done and go home…cause got coco.” So he didn’t get this from me (#TeamIntovert don’t roll like that). It’s his genius.
He’s brilliant with people. All people. When people don’t like him, it completely throws him off. Like there’s this kid in his class, who I just think doesn’t like my kid. Their personalities just don’t mix. But my kid’s genius is all on FLEEK and this other kid’s got no chance of maintaining his dislike for my kid because his social skills are like magic.
Which leads me to my point…as much as I appreciate his genius, I also want him to be about learning and school. He kind of sees school as a great big birthday party. All the lessons and stuff that pop up in school to him are just things he has to do in order to get to recess and group ‘work.’
I stress about that. Like my kid not getting his work done wakes me up in the middle of the night with the sweats. I was so the opposite of him in school. I LOVED the work of school. I still get a high from warm copies and spelling words and SILENT READING!
Him…not so much. So here we are near the end of 3rd grade and getting him to appreciate the importance of learning multiplication tables and cursive writing is like exchanging asparagus for pepperoni on his pizza, he ain’t having it.
Enter complete panic attack from the over achieving student in me.
So today I took a tour of Hogwarts. Well it’s not actually Hogwarts but it totally could be. It’s a private independent school that takes an alternate approach to education. To simplify their philosophy, they view education and learning as intrinsic to child development and allow the principles of human development to guide the school’s pedagogy.
Their theoretic approach assumes that every child is a genius and their unique genius should be nurtured in an environment that celebrates each child’s individual magic…Hogwarts.
I love the idea of sending my son to Hogwarts. But he’s been living this muggle life since kindergarten and muggles get iPads and technology class while young wizards must learn knitting and violin.
The other thing that my tour of Hogwarts made me completely cognizant of…my son is 8. Remember the part where I said kids are my genius…well living with a kid you sometimes forget the developmental psychology of it all because you want the damn toys off the floor, NOW!
Well, Hogwarts reminded me that an 8 year old’s gross and fine motor skills are not the same as a 9 year old’s. In addition an 8 year old’s world view is also a lot smaller than a 9 year old’s. Developmentally at 8 you’re only 2 years post training wheels and 1 year with mastery of the 2pt pencil. In addition, you’ve just started to make associations between the dollars in your pocket and the video game you want to buy. You’re also only 1 season past the great Santa Claus doubt.
So…it’s not fair to hold an 8 year old to 9 year old standards. I’m making this distinction between 8 and 9 year olds because 8 year olds are typically 2nd graders (every where BUT the US since the earlier 80’s) while 9 year olds are 3rd graders. My son is 8 and in the 3rd grade. 3rd grade requires task mastery over tasks that are age appropriate for older 8 year olds or 9 year olds. Teachers teaching 8 year olds skills that require the dexterity of a 9 year are fighting a uphill battle. Some 8 year olds will master the skills anyway because that’s their genius, but most of their classmates must make an illogical developmental leap in order to meet the ‘standard.’
Deep inhale. If I’ve set inappropriate expectations for my 8 year old, who could possibly be a wizard, how do I shift gears so that I honor who he is where he’s at? And is Hogwarts the best place for his genius to bloom?
I don’t know but I sure do love magic and the possibility of him being a wizard.
2 Comments Add yours
Wanda, you’ve eloquently described the dilemmas and fears of motherhood. I love how you brought it around to full circle with the developmental differences. All of parenting is doing the best you can with what you know at the time.
Kids are resilient. And one of the blessings we realize as parents is they are forgiving. We’re gonna make mistakes. They are gonna bounce back. They are gonna forgive us. Another of the circles of life. xoA
Thank you! It’s reassuring to know that I haven’t inflicted any permanent damage.