This post was born out of a conversation with my friend regarding a few of my previous posts. If you’d like to check out the posts I’m attempting to explain, please check out I love literacy (and alliteration) and Parent/Teacher Conference.
I remember sitting in the parking lot outside the pediatrician’s office, tears streaming down my cheeks. My son, born 7 weeks early, had a fifty percent chance at being retarded. The doctor may have used “developmentally delayed” or some other PC terminology, but the “R-word” is the one that ran through my mind.
It wasn’t as if I wasn’t already aware of his chances. I’d already done my research, talked to the nurses in the NICU, and he was already being visited by a developmental specialist provided free of charge by Nevada Early Intervention.
The doctor most likely had the best intentions, but his presentation was flawed.
When my son didn’t start talking at the time Baby Center’s emails said he should be (based on his adjusted age – the age he would have been had he been born on his due date), I was worried. When the developmental specialist told me he was doing just fine, I calmed down. But I didn’t stop comparing him to other kids his age (both his actual age and his adjusted age).
Eventually, he started talking. People commented on his excellent grammar and diction, his amazing enunciation for a child of his age, his intelligence. He was caught correcting an adult’s grammar on more than one occasion. He was also known for correcting the other kid’s at day care when they mispronounced a word (most notably, “You are THREE, not TREE.”)
He’s 5 now and starting Kindergarten. He’s already reading, and continues to learn things very quickly. My friend taught him the basics of multiplication during a 20-minute car ride. He really is brilliant. And it isn’t unintentional. (lol)
I’ve written a few posts about his intelligence, and I realize now that I am being misunderstood. I sound like a braggart, as if I believe my son is the smartest 5-year-old in the world. And while I do believe he is very smart, I’m not as confident about it as I seem on this blog.
I worry, constantly. I compare him to children of his own age, and his adjusted age (even though everyone says I don’t need to consider that adjusted age anymore). I am vigilant, always watching him for any sign of a delay.
Now, don’t think that I don’t want to be the mother of a child with learning disabilities or developmental delays. That isn’t it at all. I just want the best for my son. If he is going to struggle, I want to know about it now. The sooner I know about it, the sooner I can step in and do whatever he needs to succeed.
It’s also true, that I judge my parenting on his success. If he started reading before Kindergarten, then I must be a great parent! If he can grasp the concept of multiplication at 5, then my struggle with depression doesn’t make me a failure as a parent. Every step of the way, I have felt myself lacking as a parent. I divorced his dad, struggle financially, spanked him out of anger at myself, sank in and out of depression.
None of that matters if he pulls through an emotionally strong and intelligent and confident young man.
He’s not a perfect child. I’m not a perfect mother. We’re just doing the best we can. And I can’t help but be proud of him.