Thursday, September 15, 2011


I've been thinking again here lately.  I know--bad habit, I desperately need to cut back, as it most often leads to (more) worry and stress.  But I am, at the core, a thinker, and I can't help but over-analyze things.
Some day, hopefully one day soon, we'll know what causes autism.  Hell, if Apple can develop a new iPhone every six months (even if they can't manage to hold onto it), some scientist some day is going to figure out what makes our babies tick.  Maybe it'll be something environmental - teflon, or gluten, or freaking green peas, for all I know.  I myself am more inclined to think it's just plain and simple genetics, or some combination of factors.  I'll tell you why.
Kids in my family have always been a little weird.  Me being a case in point (insert snarky comment here).  We were always a little slow to develop physically, but I was also a little quirky in the mental department.  I still hear stories from relatives about how I could "read" at two years old.  It wasn't so much actual reading as memorization, of every single word I saw, once it was pointed out to me.  When I was still a toddler, I was reading billboards from my car seat, riding down the highway.  This in combination with being a wee tiny bit socially awkward makes me wonder, now. 
I am seeing this same behavior (minus the social awkwardness) in my 4-year old.  Case in point, he literally sat down and read me a book which he had had read to him a max of three times (and hadn't seen in at least a month) the other day.  While his class has plans to start working on the building blocks of reading later in the year, he has not had any sort of formal training as yet.  Needless to say, I was floored. 
Suddenly, things started clicking.  He had always been very smart, learning his letters at eighteen months, his numbers by nineteen.  He was slow on his physical milestones, but far outpaced others on the mental ones, learning the lyrics to songs and dialogue to movies after just a few viewings, learning every sign on the Signing Time DVD after only a handful of viewings.  And all of this was self-driven.  Although I've known a few moms who were grimly determined to make their children into little prodigies, I was content to just let mine be - he had the rest of his life to learn.  Yet, with very little effort, my child's brain is developing in astonishing ways, at an amazing rate.
People remark on how lucky I am, to have such a smart child. Me, I'm terrified.  Everything comes so easy for him, there doesn't seem to be a learning curve.  Instead of remarking on the pictures on the walls of the pediatrician's office, he wants to discuss the anatomy charts.  He remembers driving routes after only one trip to a particular location.  How do I keep up with that?  Am I stimulating him enough?  He's a social butterfly now, but how long before his intelligence affects his relationship with his peers?  How will he relate as he gets older?
Don't misunderstand me, he's not doing calculus or composing Nobel worthy works of literature, by any means.  I think he is more than capable of living a "normal" life, but I worry - alternately about him not reaching his full potential because he will try to "fit in" with his peers, and that he will exceed -  potentially always regretting being different.
Maybe I'm being selfish, worrying about this - plenty of people have bigger problems than too-smart kids.The worry is mostly for me, I think - it certainly doesn't do my children much good, but it makes me feel like I'm doing something for them, at least, when there's so little else I can do.  When it comes down to it, the hard work is up to them. 
One of these days, I'm going to have to let them go, and pray that whatever they are - ahead, behind, social butterfly or recluse - that they'll be happy about it. 

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