I’m going to be honest: I’ve battled for a long time with the Intellectual Demon (ID??) on my shoulder. I fully expected that by now, my kids and I would be comparing today’s political landscape to that of Star Wars, musing over why the Mona Lisa smiled and whether or not we cared, and seeing if we could find any non-Christian significance in the Narnia tales. Ya know, when we were not busy playing math games.
Ok, so I was an intellectual, geek dweeb as a child and my girl runs home and puts on her too-big pink baseball helmet, grabs a bat, and closes her eyes when mommy throws another REALLY BAD pitch. I think that’s wonderful, by the way, I was always hoping my kids would not inherit my athletic disabilities so this does my heart good. (That is accurate naming, I have ZERO athletic ability, I swear I can barely walk properly.)
And honestly, I don’t think you need to be an academically achieving this or that to make something of yourself. (None of it helped me until I had a stroke and by then I was 33.)
All of this fine history brings us to yesterday, when Zoe came home from school – and, oddly enough, was delighted to be back from vacation, so much so, that she did not complain, cry, run, laugh and/or hide when I said, “Come, let’s read your new book.”
We did. And guess WHAT? I pointed to sight words and she said them.
My Intellectual Demon did backflips on my shoulder. “Yay! She’s smart!! Yay!! She’ll be something, she’ll go to Harvard, blah blah blah!”
Then, my Mama Censor perked up. “Really? You’re going to value her on that? What about Amelia, who couldn’t read any sight words in a book at that age? Remember the crappy kindergarten that taught her nothing? Not her fault, not yours, but you can’t…”
Wait, what? I can’t do what? I can’t compliment a daughter on her intellect because it doesn’t measure up to my other daughter’s abilities? Is that correct?
You see, you get to a point in parenting where you think you have it under control and then you hit a thorny patch like this. This just hit me: that I’m the one who’s stupid here. Because I tell my kids all the time that studying and reading and taking their vitamins makes them strong, and smart, and will give them power and help them follow their dreams, and I say it in a way they understand. (Super Girl and Wonder Woman are big brain roll models here.)
There is smart and there is clever. From what I hear about how people with autism think, they’re less likely to be clever, more likely to be smart. Amelia wormed her way out of school 2 weeks ago by faking a stomach virus: that’d be clever, something I’m not at all gifted in. You do the best you can, and you always acknowledge your kids’ strengths – to their faces. We have to, don’t we? The chips may not fall exactly where everyone would like, but as long as my kids have self-worth and make their way, that’s all I can ask.