Scary stories from a lovely place
Have you noticed that every little kid these days a genius? I often hear parents (mums) describe their kid as gifted or highly intelligent or advanced for their age. I rarely hear anyone say their kid is average, or even perhaps below average.
I’m in a couple of Gentle Parenting groups on Facebook, where parents (okay, mums) seek advice. These parents preface their questions regarding their child’s appalling behaviour with claims to intelligence and high sensitivity, partially because they don’t want to be negative, but also because they genuinely believe it’s true. For parents seeking non-traditional routes of discipline, claims of high intelligence and sensitivity often go someway to explaining their child’s behaviour, because they don’t want to say ‘bad’.
Or once I visited a new playgroup and was sitting playing with my kids near another mum and her son, who wasn’t yet crawling. She was showing him shapes and instructing him in what they were and how many sides they had. After a while of this game she informed me he was very advanced for his age. I wasn’t convinced, he didn’t stop sucking the rectangle throughout the whole exercise.
And this can’t be a recent, post-social media phenomenon. More than ten years ago I worked in a bookshop where Grannies, Aunties and friends often sought my advice regarding children’s books. The amount of times I heard the phrase ‘years ahead of the kids in her class’ or ‘he’s 3 but has a reading ago of 10’. It took a lot of willpower not to be rude about their predictable claims. But mostly it made me sad, what about the kids who were just average, or genuinely not intelligent, or who dared to struggle with reading? Who was proud of them and singing their praises?
I know zero about education or child development theories, but statistically, most kids must be average, right? There’d be a scale from less intelligent through to genius, with most falling in or close to the middle.
I feel no shame in claiming that my sons are average kids. Actually they might even be below average in some developmental areas – they can’t write any letters or tell the time, Silas thinks his dad built Bunnings and Oisín calls dust ‘cinnamon’. But you should see them run! Or climb frighteningly high in trees. Or collect the mail with bursting enthusiasm. Mostly though, they’re average, if a bit on the cheeky side. And I am still very proud of them. They can be average all their lives and I will still think they are wonderful little people who hold hands whenever they come close to each other and give lovely cuddles.