When your first child is advanced you have trouble fully comprehending the scope of his or her abilities. The talents of that child become your normal and, perhaps, you just don’t fully grasp how unusual the child is until a much later date. This happened to me. When Madalyn was a baby and toddler, I had nothing with which to compare her. I hadn’t spent much time around kids that age, I didn’t spend any time with any friends who had kids the same age, and she just seemed normal to me.
Fast forward six or seven years to the present. I have subsequently had two more children; children whose verbal and cognitive skills run more toward the average, and I finally have gained some perspective. And I’m continually blown away when I realize just how advanced Madalyn was, especially when I look back at her records and compare her, side-by-side, with Eliza when Mad was Eliza’s current age.
To share my perspective with you: Eliza will be 18 months old as of Saturday. She has a vocabulary in the range of 15 words, which is completely normal for this age. She has yet to put a phrase together. (JZ, at the same age, had even less words.) I feel as though there is still a lot that goes right over Eliza’s head, though it’s hard to know since she doesn’t have the ability to articulate.
Now, let’s compare that to Madalyn at the same age. This information is all factual and is taken from the calendar I kept all through her second year.
17 months, 1 week: Recites “One, two, three” consistently. Counts two chairs. Asks “Where Elmo go?” while watching “Elmo’s World.”
18 months, 1 day: Starts answering with ‘okay’ when requesting something (“Juice! Okay!”)
18 months, 1 week: Pull up to bank drive-thru window and Madalyn calls out “Cheeseburger! Coke!” Saw a tiny Golden Arches logo on my water cup, pointed and said, “Cheeseburger.” Placed stuffed animal and doll on a chair and says, “Wie down. Night-night.”
18 months, 2 weeks: Saw miniscule PBS Kids logo mixed in amongst many other logos on a Directv commercial and said, “P-B Kid!”
Reading that, I still can’t believe she was only 17/18 months at the time. I can no more imagine Eliza doing any of that right now than I can imagine her driving a car. It just goes to show how much of this stuff is innate and not the work of the parents, loathe as I am to admit it. Who wouldn’t like to take credit for turning out an extra-bright child? But if it was our superior parenting skills, we’d have three kids with calendar entries like that. (This is not to say JZ and Eliza aren’t bright, either; don’t get me wrong. They just don’t posess the verbal skills Madalyn has always had.)
Hmm….we can’t take credit for their intelligence or their good looks (both of which, apparently, are owed to the genetic crap shoot)….surely there must be something for which we can congratulate ourselves. Must give this more thought.