Sunday, May 30, 2021

Being a Toddler Parent is Rough on a Former Gifted Kid

Being a toddler parent is rough on anyone. I personally love toddlers and even I can only hear "but why, Mama?" so many times before I start getting annoyed. I can only have my child put his whole hand in his poop filled diaper so many times before I want to scream. I can only have my child run into the street without looking once in each direction so many times before enunciating through my teeth as I try not to lose it. 

 Clearly this would be below standard if there was a grade for parenting. 

It's extra tough when you grew up being able to ace the rubric. There's a difference between inherent intelligence, being able to problem solve, gain knowledge, and score well on tests. For the sake of this opinion piece we can be as oblivious to this as many of the school systems during my youth. Let's go ahead.

I used to love the rubrics and being able to deliver or over-deliver. I was used to having to prove to be proficient at multiple things at all times. I was used to being above average and having statistics on my side indicating this to be true. 

As someone who did not get a lot of family support for my academic achievement, because I was not the golden child (more on that later), I used good grades and being the in gifted classes as a compass for myself esteem. I knew what success was for that early age and I had it. 

Now fast-forward to 25 or some years later. There's no rubric or test answer key. There are actions and consequences. The probabilities of different outcomes underscore how much of human life is a continuous gamble. 

I will also be honest and say that, I was a better parent to one child than I am to two children. The divided attention is required and I really hope that the teamwork and social development that my kids have as siblings will compensate for my inability to look at either of their lives under the microscope on a continuous basis. 

One unfortunate truth about parenting is that just like you can have an A in English and a D in Physics, you can succeed in some parenting areas and fail altogether in others. And the awful thing is that I am too close to know the real gaps in my knowledge or talent. Sure I know that I have to say "no" with more conviction, but I am missing the big picture. There’s a chance that there is something big that I am missing that will be so obvious in 20 years when the little ones are not so little anymore.

Former gifted kids have anxiety down pat because we are used to rubrics, roadmaps, plans, recipes, standards, statistics. All of the comforts of the ivory tower that only provide a false sense of security in the modern world.   

The other hard truth is that we have to either watch our kids struggle with the same things that we struggled with or we watch them struggle with things that we found easy in our youth. And then other times when they happen to figure something out seemingly out of nowhere, we have to wonder if they're going to be just fine. 

And here’s the thing. They will figure it out. The world that we grew up with no longer exists. And in a lot of ways, it doesn’t matter if you can live up to your own expectations or if you end up giving yourself a lot of grace.  

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