Isn't it funny how, after awhile, the oddities become the norm?
This morning, I had to holler at Maggie to "put the book down and get ready for school." That, in and of itself, is not an oddity. The fact that she was reading "On the Banks of Plum Creek" by Laura Ingalls Wilder probably wouldn't be an oddity either, except that Maggie's in kindergarten. Jay asked her if she was almost done, to which she answered, "Oh, no, Daddy. I'm only on chapter 35." And what's even more funny to me, is that she's actually enjoying and reading the Little House on the Prairie series, while she was bored and lost interest with the smaller books (like Magic Tree House or the one with the monster titles that I can't remember.) And the little pamphlet-style books she's bringing home from kindergarten? In her words: "bor-ring." We use those to work on her articulation. (BTW, Katie is reading the LHP series now, too, so the two of them are switching back and forth. I wonder if we're at the point that Maggie is pushing Katie forward?)
I understand Maggie isn't the first kindergartner to read like she does, but I keep forgetting she is probably in the minority. The other day she asked me, "Being smart is good, right, Mommy?" And, sadly, it took me a good 15 seconds to respond, to decide how to answer.
Instead of a "yes, being smart is good" I had flashbacks to grade school and junior high. I remember my friends not playing with me because I was winning in the multiplication facts race (3rd grade). I remember being ostracized for using the word ostracized in fifth grade. I remember, every time I got a question wrong, hearing "oh, the smart girl missed one." And I remember learning to hide my intelligence in hopes of not getting ridiculed. Hence, the hesitation. I hated that part of my life.
But then I thought about my high school and college years, getting a huge college scholarship, getting two years paid for completely, not actually studying hard until my junior year of college, and learning to be proud to set the curve. I thought about how nice it is to be surrounded by friends, now, who are smarter than me, who challenge me, and who understand and encourage words like ostracize and philosophical discussions on vaccinations and economic policy. And I love that part of my life.
So, yes, Maggie, it IS good to be smart. Enjoy it. I will encourage it. Never hide it. Be proud.
And not to say Katie isn't smart, too. I DO forget that. She seems average to me, but I guess she is technically qualified as gifted. Things do come easy for her. But, she already is trying to hide it, and that's breaking my heart and making me angry. She's started asking questions that she already knows the answer to, and then does this ridiculous, open-mouth, shake of the head that she must have learned from some stereotypic dumb-blonde character on TV. I put a kabosh on that immediately. "You are not a dumb-blonde and you will not EVER pretend to be. Understand? Now, don't ask questions you know the answer to, or else we'll stop answering the questions you actually want to know." Poor, poor oldest child. :)
I think my difficulty with Katie is that she is just like me, only more emotional. She shows what I felt. Somedays, it feels like it's the little Linda in front of me, and here's my chance to correct everything about me that I didn't like later. That's not fair to her, so usually I keep my mouth shut and analyze her behavior before responding. I try to encourage her creative side, recognize her achievements, and push her to push herself. I TRY to do those thing, but I have this fear that, once she reaches adulthood, she'll let me know that it was an epic-fail on my part. And all I can say is, I did my best.