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Thursday, March 08, 2007

On Surviving Parenthood with a Precocious Child

Dear Daughter is precocious. I came to terms with that quite early in her life. Before she was 18 months of age, she had a vocabulary of at least 50 words. She was also able to say the entire alphabet correctly and quickly and effortlessly assemble her wooden alphabet puzzle and number puzzle before 18 months. She held interesting philosophical conversations by the time she was 25 months old. She could count to 20 by the age two and a half. She began writing her name before age three, and at three and a half can write at least half a dozen words (spelled correctly). She has completed an entire 36 week preschool homeschool curriculum in about 20 weeks because she tended to work at the pace of completing about a full week of work in one sitting. She has always had a vocabulary that outshines many adults. Today, for example, as she was juggling 10 different paint cups at her easel, she stated, "Boy, this is an unruly group of paint cups!"

And from the first time my precocious daughter first held a crayon she has been a prolific artist. She loves any medium she can get her little fingers into: crayons, markers, pencils, chalk, rubber stamps, finger paint, poster paint, tempera paint, watercolors, modeling clay, play dough, cutting and pasting, etc. I can't possibly save all her masterpieces, so I frequently pick out the best ones and save some for myself and pass others on to doting relatives. The ones that don't make the cut (dozens each week) simply have to go in the trash. I always try to be sly about it, though, so that Daughter won't catch on to it. The other day I failed miserably at the sly thing. She was throwing something away in the kitchen wastebasket when she found a crumpled masterpiece partly obscured by the remains of uneaten breakfast.

Daughter (with crestfallen face): "Mommy! You threw away my picture!"
Me (sheepishly): "Well, Honey, we can't keep ALL your pictures because you make SO MANY of them!" (I gestured to the refrigerator that was unrecognizable under the plastering of Daughter's artwork)
Daughter: "But that was a VERY SPECIAL picture! And you can't just throw it away!"

Daughter continued to look devastated as she rushed to gather paper and markers to re-create the picture in the trash can. She did well at duplicating it, and stated firmly to me that this was a very special picture and that under no circumstances was I to throw it away. It immediately took over the prime location on the refrigerator.

I think I hung my head for at least a week over that event, and I saved EVERYTHING for awhile, as if I could somehow soothe my guilty conscious and make up for my thoughtlessness by collecting stacks and piles and mountains of Daughter's art. I've had to revert to passing some on to the trash gods, but I do so with trepidation and as much slyness as I can scrape together. I don't think either one of our self-esteems could survive a replay.

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