Tuesday, January 31, 2012

     For the next couple of weeks, I am going to "unplug."  No e-mail, no Facebook, no online gaming, no reading the news on the internet.  I am going to take a break and do everything the old-fashioned way: send cards and letters via snail mail, call to talk with friends, play board games, and read the newspaper.  When this little experiment is over, I'll get back to you on its success (or failure).

Monday, January 30, 2012

What's My Motivation?

In this age of lessons, our children don’t learn how to ice skate by going to the local pond.  They don’t learn to swim by going to the beach.  They don’t hit a tennis ball against the school wall a million times until their coordination and timing are learned.  No, they take lessons.  Diligent suburban mothers, fathers, nannies, babysitters, grandparents, and anyone else who is recruited to take part in this chauffering of small children era drive little Johnny to the local rink, pool, or courts where he takes lessons.  I admit that I did fall prey to this phenomenon myself.  My favorite memory, though, is the swimming lessons.  Living in the south, I wanted a backyard pool, but my husband I agreed that we would not build one until our children could swim.  That seemed reasonable.  Immediately, I signed them up for swimming lessons.  My older son sat on the side of the pool for several lessons, barely getting his feet wet.  As the other children splashed and paddled, floated and submerged their faces, blowing bubbles, he sat and watched.  Then one day he swam.  A gifted child.
A different gifted child:  Meanwhile, my younger son sat on the side of the pool and flatly refused to enter the water throughout the entire series of lessons.  I explained why he needed to be able to swim.  I pleaded with him to do it for me.  I bribed him with a new toy if he would learn to swim.  Nothing.  The next session was scheduled and again I signed him up.  Again he sat.  Again I explained, pleaded, and bribed.  Nothing.
The third time lessons began, I reluctantly signed him up and asked him to PLEASE try at least getting into the water. After all, Mommy wanted a swimming pool.  By this time I had no shame.  We arrived at the pool for the lessons and an adorable blonde pony-tailed, blue-eyed, tanned teenaged girl was his instructor.  Midway through the first lesson she walked through the water over to the side of the pool and cooed, “Will you please swim with me?”  That little three-year-old stinker grabbed hold of her hands and allowed himself to be lowered into the pool, never taking his eyes off her face.  She held onto him as he paddled and coaxed him to blow bubbles in the water.  By the end of the first lesson he was paddling across the pool with her.  The sun rose the next morning and before I was even out of bed he bounded into my room in his bathing suit begging to go back to the pool for more lessons.  Motivation.
Regardless of what you are trying to persuade your child to do, finding the right motivation is key.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Non-Verbal Communication
     When our children are babies, we parents interpret their needs far before they are able to communicate them to us.  Or do we?  When a baby cries in a certain way, a parent may know that he is hungry.  When a baby fusses, a parent may know that she is tired. When the baby smiles, a parent may know that he is content, and when a baby cries, a parent may know that he is scared.  The baby, then, is communicating to the parents long before verbal communication begins.  An expression, a movement, or a sound is all parents need to understand their babies’ needs.
     For some reason, though, once children begin to speak, to tell us when they are angry or sad or hungry, we forget to pay attention to these non-verbal cues that we knew so well.  Did you know that between 60% and 75% if the impact of communication is non-verbal?!  Often words contradict body language.  How many times have you asked your child what is wrong and the response is “nothing”?  You know that something is, in fact, wrong.  How do you know?  Non verbal communication.  Interestingly, when the words contradict the body language, most people will believe the unspoken messages.  Being able to interpret non-verbal communication, then, reduces confusion.
     What do we mean by “non-verbal communication”?  It is a combination of a number of things:
  • Kinesics: A man by the name of Ray Birdshistell, in the 1950s developed a definition that said that it is a combination of posture and gestures.
  • Proxemics: Pertaining to the perception of space, we can “read” a person’s comfort level with us by how far he or she stands from us.  Intimate distance (family and loved ones) is between 6-18 inches; personal distance (good friends)is between 18-4 feet; social distance (formal acquaintances) is between 5-12 feet; and public distance (strangers) is 12-25 feet or more. 
  • Chronemics: This has to do with the study of time usage, punctuality, a person’s willingness to wait, the speed of one’s speech, and the amount of time someone will listen before “tuning out.”
  • Haptics: Haptics is the study of touching, whether or not your child will subject himself at any given time to being touched, kissed, or hugged.  Also in the area of haptics would be handshakes, holding hands, back patting, high fives, fist bumping, and brushing an arm or leg.
  • Oculesics: This is the expression of one’s eyes.  Does your child maintain eye contact while talking, while listening, while observing?  What is the frequency of glances? What are the patterns of fixation?  Are pupils dilated or is she blinking at a fast or slow rate?
     So, the next time your child is non-communicative, take time to pay attention to what he or she is really telling you.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kindness Changes The World

    In our rushed world, we sometimes forget the difference a simple act of kindness can make.  I have always tried to offer words or acts of kindness whenever I can.  If I see a person struggling with a small child, trying to open a door, I will hurry to open the door for her.  If I see an elderly person exerting himself trying to unload groceries into a trunk I will ask if I can help and put them in the trunk for him.  If I see someone with a sad expression, I will find something kind to say, whether it is complimenting a colorful scarf or that I really like the sweater she is wearing.  These simple acts and words of kindness are free and I am invariably rewarded with a smile.

    We wonder if our actions are making an impact on our children.  They are.  My children have seen me performing random acts of kindness for their entire lives and I now see them doing the same.    
    When my son was 6, his class had a Thanksgiving feast.  Each child was to bring a turkey sandwich and the parents would be on hand to prepare everything else.  On the day of the feast, the children were sitting in a circle on a mat, their plates in front of them.  They took out their sandwiches and put them on their plates.  One little boy did not have a sandwich.  Seconds later I saw my son break his in half and put half on this boy’s plate, without a word or a look.     
    When my other son was 10, we were shopping on a brutally cold Minnesota day.  As we approached the store, we noticed a very cold man ringing the bell for the Salvation Army holidays collection.  When we got into the store my son turned to me and asked if he could please buy one thing in the store.  Since he usually did not ask for things, I agreed and followed him.  He walked directly to the snack bar where he bought a cup of hot chocolate and took it out to the Salvation Army bell ringer, who accepted it with gratitude.  (To this day, I often buy cups of hot chocolate for bell ringers on very cold days.)
     These are just two examples.  Know, though, that when you make it a habit to perform random acts of kindness, your children are watching.

Friday, January 27, 2012

6 Rules for Parenting Success

Rule #1:  Mean what you say and say what you mean.  
     It’s very easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and say, “Do your homework or you won’t play video games for a year!”  Now we all know that you will crack before the year is up . . .
     In a paper presented at the annual convention of the Council for Exceptional Children in Minneapolis back in 1998, the author suggested the use of Gossen’s Restitution Model when all else fails.  A child who is easily bored or has highly oppositional behaviors and refuses to change needs to take more responsibility for his or her actions.  This model switches the loci of responsibility for change TO the child rather than trying to instill a sense of responsibility ON the child.
Rule #2:  If a child is struggling, but capable, do not lower expectations.  
     Lowering your expectations may silently communicate a vote of no confidence in the child.  Instead, keep your high expectations (if the child is capable of meeting them) and offer lots of empathy, support, and encouragement.  Instead, say things such as:
  • “I can see that this is tough for you.  I’m proud of the effort you are making.”
  • “I know this is a difficult time, and I’m confident you can do it.”
  • “This is hard and we’ll get through it.  We’ll help you all we can.” (from Neihart, Peak Performance for Smart Kids) 
Real-life story:
“Our 11-year-old son, Jonathan, came home in a near panic over a complicated assignment that was due in 3 weeks.  He wanted to do very well on it and was frantic about how much he would need to do to complete it.  We had him sit down with a calendar and break the project down into specific, doable daily goals.  When he finished, he seemed genuinely surprised that each of the daily goals was easy, and even more surprised that the assignment could actually get done ahead of schedule.  He has a chapter test coming up in math in a few weeks and we saw him attack this in the same way, filling out his planner with daily goals to prepare.  This helped us realize that he needs to learn how to break things down into smaller tasks; otherwise, he gets overwhelmed and avoids doing anything because the projects seem too huge.  (from Neihart, Peak Performance for Smart Kids)
Rule #3:  Establish goals that can be quantified.  
     Rather than saying that Johnny needs to get his homework done, tell him he needs to get his Reading done by 4:00, his Math done by 5:00, his Spelling done by 6:00 . . . and actually let him check them off as he completes them.
     Instead of saying that your child needs to be more responsible, be specific about what you consider responsibility to be:  Sally needs to put her toys away after playing with them or Johnny needs to write Spelling words 10 times each day in order to be ready for the test on Friday.
     Instead of saying that your child needs to work harder, tell him what that means to you: only take a 30 minute break when you get home from school and then get to work on your homework – not stopping until you are finished, at which time you may play a video game for 30 minutes.  Work first, reward later.
Rule #4:  Provide your child with the tools for self-management.
     If you want your child to improve his or her self-management ability, make sure that he or she has the tools needed (both physical and emotional).
Physical Tools: 
  • Planner of his or her choosing
  • A cool pen or pencil to use just for the planner
  • Highlighters or colored pens or pencils
  • Post-it Notes
  • Bulletin Board
  • Binder with sections for each subject
  • Specific place to do schoolwork that works for the whole family
  • Reward system devised either by your child or together as a family
  • Written contract to accomplish specific goals by a certain time
  • Clock with a timer or alarm
Emotional Tools:
  • Give him reason to believe that he is capable of self-management.  Allow him to make certain decisions for himself.  Have faith in him.
  • Allow her to set up her own schedule so long as she accomplishes what she needs to accomplish.  Maybe Sally NEEDS to unwind when she comes home from school before she can crack the books.  Maybe Johnny NEEDS to get his homework done immediately because he WANTS to watch his favorite television shows at night and unwind then.  Children need to unwind as much as adults do – and each of them does it in as many different ways as adults do. 
  • Try to set an example of the self-management style you wish your child to exhibit.  Discuss why you are doing things the way you are in a way that makes sense to your child.  For example:
    • When you take out your Blackberry to enter an appointment, make the connection that by writing down where and when you need to be somewhere, you will be there.  Discuss how your child’s planner fills the same purpose.
    • When you put the dishes away, talk about the benefits of having a place for everything so that you know exactly where it is.  The next time you need a dish, you know where to look.  Similarly, the next time your child needs his Math book, he should know where to find it because it is always in the same place.
    • When you apologize to your child because you can’t make a soccer game because of a commitment at work, help your child to see how his or her commitments at school are equally important. Watching television has to wait until homework is done, for example.
Rule #5: Establish routines. 
     Establishing routines allows your child to know what to expect and when to expect it.  How can you expect him to be disciplined and manage his time well if he is constantly surprised by inconsistent routines?  On the other hand, if he always knows that he has from 6:00 – 8:00 pm to work on his homework, that is an established routine.  If he always knows that he has to get his math done in the car while he waits for his sister’s gymnastics to be over, that is an established routine.  Routines don’t have to be June Cleaver pretty.  They just need to be reliable.
Rule #6:  Celebrate minor victories!  
     Rather than expecting your child to improve all bad habits overnight, talk about one aspect that the child is capable of improving and agree to not nag about anything else so long as the child is working on improving that one thing.  For example:
Johnny is doing poorly in school not because he doesn’t know the material, but because he simply forgets to hand in the homework.  Make a deal with Johnny that you will not say anything about time spent playing video games, teasing his sister, or not taking out the trash if he will remember to turn in his homework every day for a week (or two weeks or a month).  During that time, praise him every time he remembers to turn in his homework and help him to set up a system to remember – perhaps placing it by the back door, putting it in a bright red folder in his backpack, or attaching a feather or a long straw or a long piece of yarn to it before putting it in his binder.  Once that problem is solved, focus on another (if necessary).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Budding Scientist
     A client told the story of her precocious three-year-old who was fascinated with how things worked.  She had to be careful about leaving appliances or electronics within his reach because he would want to take them apart.  One day she had left him in his playroom to play while she did a load of laundry.  This seemed pretty safe.  All he had in the room were his own toys.  Busily doing her laundry, she paid no attention to what he was doing in his playroom.  After about an hour, surprised that she did not hear him playing, she went to see what he was doing.  As she walked into the room, she stopped short and couldn’t believe what she was seeing.  This three-year-old had devised a system of pulleys using Tinker Toys, his shoelaces, yarn that he had gotten from her crafts bin, a folding chair, his Big Wheel bike, and a host of other random objects.  Crisscrossing the room were pulleys and he was testing different weights with them, seeing which objects could be transported, how the yarn stretched but the shoelaces didn’t.  It was at that moment that she thought, “This little boy might be gifted.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Can't Do It! Yes You Can!

        One day when I was observing a class for a research project, I witnessed one of the most moving teacher/student moments of my life.  To understand the significance of the moment, you need to know the backstory.  
     This is the story of a fourth grade child with Asperger’s who began the school year sitting by himself and not communicating with his classmates or with her.  The teacher allowed him to sit by himself in a corner of the room and cheerfully addressed him by name but spoke with him quietly in his corner.  She gave him time to feel comfortable with the class and to trust her rather than insisting that he join in immediately.  As the days progressed, she discovered that he loved math.  Using this passion, she suggested one morning that he turn his desk 45 degrees to the left and walked away.  Intrigued, this little boy figured out what 45 degrees would be and noisily turned his desk .  The teacher merely caught his eye and smiled.  He frowned.  She used this tactic for the next few days, always giving him a different number of degrees to turn the desk.  Each time, he would figure out the degrees, move his desk, and wait for her to notice.  She would smile each day and, eventually, he smiled back.  The boy would excitedly wait each morning to see how many degrees he should turn his desk that day.  Finally, the teacher told him that, with his desk facing the rest of the class, he should move it a certain number of inches forward.  He quickly measured the floor and moved the desk.  Soon, his desk was a part of the class.  
      At this point, the teacher encouraged him to join the morning meetings, held on the carpet at the front of the room, and he eventually agreed to join in.  His stipulation was that he could sit on the floor off to the side of the group.  As time went by, she was able to place him in small groups, always with a kind-hearted boy who seemed to be able to reach him.  And then, one day, realizing that he needed more academic rigor, she suggested that he move ahead in math because he had an affinity for it and enjoyed working on his own.  
This takes us to the scene I observed.  One day this “ornery” boy, as she referred to him with a smile, approached her desk.  She looked up as he threw his math book onto the desk in front of her, gruffly saying, “I can’t do it.”  She paused for a couple of seconds, picked the book up, looked him squarely in the eyes, and gruffly replied, “Yes you can,” and threw the book back at him.  Surprised by her reaction, he picked the book up and stomped back to his seat where he flipped pages, grumbled, and glared at the teacher.  He wrote on his paper and flipped more pages, and after a while returned to the teacher’s desk.  Standing in front of her, he threw the paper down on her desk and gruffly announced, “I did it.”  Taking a moment to review the answers, a smile crept across her face and she looked up and kindly responded, “Yes, you sure did.”  And he smiled.  This was a milestone moment in this child’s and this teacher’s lives.  Sometimes all of the accommodations, modifications, and psychological assessment pales in comparison to a caring, engaged, enthusiastic teacher.  She invited the boy to teach the lesson to the class when they got to that point and he readily agreed.  Weeks later, as he stood at the board, showing the class how to do the problems, a very proud teacher simply observed, smiling, and brushing the tears from her eyes.
              What a difference a single, caring teacher can make in a child’s life.  All of the education, preparation, years of experience, workshops, and credentials pale in comparison to truly caring for children.  The next time a child tells you, “I can’t do it.”  Show your confidence (if appropriate) by responding, “Yes, you can.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I'll Read When I Want To
       Parents of gifted children usually have a story or two associated with reading.  Some children begin to read at a very young age; others refuse to read at all until they can do it well.  I had one of each.  At 4, my younger son would get up, get dressed, brush his teeth and his hair, make his bed, and appear at the breakfast table ready to read the sports section of the newspaper to see how his baseball team had done the night before.  Then he would trot off to kindergarten!  This child could read the scores, the scouting reports, the injury reports, but did not want to read about Dick and Spot and Jane.  He never read again for pleasure until he was about 12 years old and discovered Shakespeare.  This non-reading gifted child with the phenomenal ability to read and comprehend went on to become an Honors English major at a prestigious New England college.  Go figure.
  His older brother, on the other hand, was not reading before he began kindergarten, or even first grade – at least not to our knowledge.  His teachers thought he was reading, but we knew that he was tricking them into reading something once and then remembering it – verbatim.  If he had never heard a book, he couldn’t “read” it.  Then suddenly, during the summer before second grade, he won a trophy at our local library for reading more books than any other child in the area.  We had found what motivated him – competition.  He was off and there was no stopping him.  He consumed books – both fiction and non-fiction – at an alarming rate.  By the time he was in third grade, he was reading at a college level.
  These kids do not follow any prescribed pattern in their reading development.  Some read at a young age and continue to progress at a normal speed.  Some begin reading at a young age and fly through the literature available to them and get bored.  Some learn to read at a later age but catch up and zoom past everyone else.  There really is no predicting.  Just jump aboard and enjoy the ride.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Please Play With Me - My Rules

       When my son was three, he became the rule maker, as do many gifted children.  He loved creating games with a series of ever-changing rules that he expected his friends to follow.  The only problem was that his little friends had, apparently, read the baby books and were still more interested in playing next to each other than with each other.  Parallel play was just fine with them.  And it was age appropriate.  The more my son tried to involve them in his games, the more they resisted, until he did what any red blooded American boy would do under the circumstances – he hit them.  Yes, as my mother had been called into school for a parent-teacher conference for her kindergartner, I now was being called into pre-school for a parent-teacher conference for my three-year-old.  Somewhere my mother and Darwin were smiling.
Fortunately for us, the pre-school teacher recognized my son’s behavior for what it was – the result of his not reading the baby books.  No one had told him that at three he was supposed to be interested in parallel play.  No?  Of course, what she explained was that he had already progressed from parallel play through simple social play (where he thought his friends were sharing with him when, in reality, he was simply taking their toys and giving them his), straight to cooperative play where he wanted everyone to have a role to play.  What’s a mother to do?  Of course, doing what any good parents in the late 1980s would do, my husband and I became his playmates for a while, letting him make the rules for games, give us roles, and follow his directions.  Soon, he found an older boy in the neighborhood with whom he could play and everyone was happy.
      If your child seems argumentative, hits, bites, or otherwise is disruptive with other children, be careful not to immediately go to the “oppositional defiant” diagnosis.  Sometimes, he simply needs a friend who is at his stage of social development.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Blue Bear

     It’s never too early to teach your child to be true to herself despite what others may think.
When I was five years old and in a traditional kindergarten class, I remember being given a bear to color.  Back then, we didn’t all have our 128 color boxes of crayons to take to school, so I was also given a crayon to use – a blue crayon.  Usually an agreeable little girl, always willing to please, this crossed some line in my mind.  Color a bear blue?!  Where has this teacher been that she has seen blue bears?  I already knew that there were white bears, brown bears, black bears, and even bears that were sort of yellow, but not blue.  I sat demurely at my table the entire time everyone else was coloring.  Because I never made a sound or disrupted anyone (a typical gifted girl), I guess I flew under the teacher’s radar.  When she came around to collect the colored pictures, though, she looked at my blank page with my name neatly written on the top in blue crayon and said, “Nancy, you didn’t color your bear like the other children.”  I shook my head in agreement.  After all, I had not been asked a question that required an answer.  She had just stated the obvious.  Unwittingly, though, I had done something wrong because the next thing I knew a note was being pinned to my blouse for my mother.  
When I arrived at home that afternoon (having taken the bus all by myself from school to the end of the road, and then walked the quarter mile up the road to my house – all without the aid of a parent or guardian or police officer since those were simpler times), my mother saw the note pinned to my blouse and asked what it was.  I honestly told her that I did not know.  She looked skeptical, but took the note off and read it.  She then did her best to suppress a smile, but I could see it teasing her eyes.  The conversation went something like this:
Mommy:  Were you supposed to color a bear at school?
Nancy:    Yes.
Mommy:  Did you color the bear?
Nancy:     No.
Mommy:  Why didn’t you color the bear?
Nancy:     Miss Ross gave me a blue crayon.
Mommy:  So why didn’t you color the bear with the blue crayon?
Nancy:     Bears aren’t blue.
Mommy (outwardly smiling now):  Did Miss Ross ask you why you didn’t      
              color the bear?  
Nancy:     No.  She just told me that I didn’t do it and I already knew that.
Mommy:   Well, don’t worry about it.  You’re right.  Bears aren’t blue.  Run 
                     along and play.
Of course, this being the early 1960s, the next day I found myself sitting in my classroom next to my mother and across from Miss Ross after school.  They were treating this “incident” as though I had tried to burn down the school.  Serious faces looked at each other as Miss Ross said that she hoped we could nip this defiance in the bud.  She had never known me to refuse to comply with an assignment and didn’t want a trend to develop.  My mother, an equally serious expression on her face except for the quick wink in my direction, asked my teacher if she had asked me why I had not colored the bear.  The teacher said, “Of course I did.  What kind of teacher do you think I am?” to which my mother calmly replied, “We think you’re a wonderful teacher, Miss Ross,” referring to both her and my father’s opinion of the teacher.  My father was not at the conference, though, because he was at work.  This raising children thing was a mother’s job in the 1960s.  My mother continued, “What was Nancy’s reason for not coloring the bear?”  Miss Ross thought for a minute and became a little flustered, saying that she was embarrassed but could not remember my answer.  My mother turned my way and said, “Nancy, tell Miss Ross why you chose not to color the bear.”  I timidly said, “Because, Miss Ross, bears aren’t blue.”
Thus, with those six words, my potential reputation as a deviant was erased, and a new one was put firmly in place.  I was now known as the brainy one, the wise guy child.  Watch out for this one.  She’s tricky.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Don't Trust The Baby Books

          You know how every pregnant woman has to read What to Expect When You’re Expecting?  And then once the baby is born, we all fall prey to the books that tell us exactly – to the minute – when our child will roll over, sit up, crawl, climb, walk, talk, learn the alphabet, speak Spanish fluently. . .  We’re ready.  We now know EXACTLY what to expect.  I even knew a mother who wrote on her calendar that she could expect her daughter to accomplish certain milestones on that day.  Her husband would call from work and ask her if the little girl had spoken her first word yet or crawled yet.  They really expected that because she was a certain age, it would happen – that day.  And, what is worse, they were crestfallen that she did not.  Then they began to worry.  Something must be wrong with their child!
Real life throws us curve balls.  The baby doesn’t sleep – ever!  The baby is hungry – always!  The baby doesn’t crawl on cue, but he reels in his toys by pulling on the blanket Mommy has placed him on so that he doesn’t get dirty (heaven forbid a child should get dirty!).  The toy is five feet away from baby lying on his tummy.  He looks at the rattle and says to himself, “Self, I may not know how to get to that toy yet, but I can make it come to me!” and he proceeds to pull on the blanket until the toy is within his reach.  Hmmm, thinks the mother, as she frantically searches the books on the shelf looking for the chapter on rodeo babies lassoing and reeling in toys.  What do you know?  It isn’t in there.
  Or how about the little roller?  A friend told me how she laughed as her son rolled all over the house.  One day, her husband was about to stop him as he approached the stairs, but they were carpeted, the baby was pretty well padded with a diaper, and there were only two little stairs, so she persuaded him to stand back and see what happened.  Sure enough!  Down went the barrel racer (No, wait, barrel racers race around barrels.  They’re not the barrels, are they?)  Kaboom, kerplunk, smile!  Boy, was he proud of himself.  He had navigated another floor of the house all by himself at only 6 months.  Hearing his parents’ gasps quickly followed by laughter just gave him courage and off he went across the living room floor – rolling, rolling, rolling.   Just for the record, that’s not in the baby books, either.
Then there was the little bundle of joy who, at about 6 months of age began making the most adorable face.  Everyone thought it was just the cutest thing the way he scrunched up his little nose and rubbed his eyes.  They lovingly referred to it as his “piggy face” because he really did flatten his little nose.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t until years later that his parents realized the poor little guy had allergies and was trying to relieve the annoying itching.  Again, no “If baby makes piggy face, he has allergies” entry in the books.
When you have a child who doesn’t follow the rules that the books set forth, for the average child,  you find yourself in a sort of no man’s land.  You no longer know what to expect.  You might turn your back and find your little one at the top of a flight of stairs that you knew you had to gate, but not for a couple of months yet.  Or, you might hear a crash in the night and realize, to your sleepy horror, that junior has “climbed” out of his crib and is lying in a pile on the carpeted floor looking somewhat confused before the tears set in.  You will find that your child does not follow the rules now and probably never will.  He makes new ones for himself.  And this is only the beginning.
So what do you do when you have a baby who doesn’t follow the rules?  You throw away the What to Expect books and listen to your instincts.  You follow your child’s lead.  And you enjoy the ride!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oh What Fun It Is To Raise A Gifted Child Today
(sung to the tune of Jingle Bells)

       In this era when a parent gauges his or her success as a parent by how early the baby walks and talks, whether or not the toddler can recite his alphabet and numbers to 100, and how high the child’s IQ is, we have forgotten to laugh at just how ridiculous this all is.  When did parents start taking themselves so seriously?  When did their own accomplishments take a backseat to those of their offspring?  When did their children serve more of a purpose as bragging rights than as bundles of joy?  Joy.  That’s what we’re forgetting.  Parenting a gifted child (Boy, do I hate that term!) is joyful.  Why?  Because the bright child “gets it.”  Let’s face it.  If these terrors didn’t “get it” they wouldn’t be able to push all of our buttons.  But I digress.
  Raising a (please can’t I think of a better term than gifted?) bright, curious, Eveready Bunny of a child can be exhausting; but it is also a wonderful, chaotic, fun, adventure.  I’m reminded of Grandma’s tale in the movie Parenthood:

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. 
Gil: Oh? 
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! 
Gil: What a great story. 
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
      This is exactly what raising a gifted child is – a roller coaster – and you never know where the next dip, turn, or loop will be.  Join me on this adventure as we begin tomorrow with “Don’t Trust the Baby Books”.