Raising Mimi, I’ve realized that Mimi is easy. Very, very easy. Quick to amuse herself, eager to explore, content to eat most of what I serve, and slow to anger.
The other possibility is that Ernie, who was and is none of those things, was very, very hard. She nursed every 4 hours until she was nearly 2. With the exception of yogurt cups, she demanded constant entertainment. (She still does. Not that she gets it, poor thing. Good thing she loves to read!) Ernie wanted an undeviating schedule, completely familiar foods, and everything else to be constant. It’s become more pronounced as she’s gotten older.
As a first-time Mom, I was very concerned when our pediatrician sent Ernie to a speech therapist for evaluation, and Ernie basically flunked the test. (They tested how many words she could say: she refused to talk, and refused to mimic the tester. That’s a fail!) She aced the problem solving part, though- pointing out sequences, etc.
When we got the letter in the mail that Ernie would need intensive, twice-a-week therapy 4 towns away until she caught up with her peers, I was 2 weeks from delivering Mimi and couldn’t think about committing our family to that kind of schedule.
Ernie didn’t talk until she was 3 1/2 (three months after the evaluation)- the main obstacle was that she refused to ever imitate us. She wouldn’t even imitate animal sounds- no “woof!” in our stories or “quack” for Old McDonald. I think she knew she wouldn’t be able to do it perfectly, and so wouldn’t try. But when she DID…watch out, she hasn’t stopped since! (I would say she totally caught up to her peers by age 4, with a few sounds left over that she has difficulty with.)
At 4 1/2 Ernie taught herself to read, and progressed to a 3rd grade level in…3 months?
Right now our main goal with Ernie is to give her space to learn in, since she is largely self-teaching. We give her as much encouragement and validation as we can. We keep firm boundaries, and let her make her choices inside those limits (and let her live with the consequences.) (For example, a 20 minute tantrum at bedtime steadily eats into any story or song time we might have had available.)
One challenge that is surprising me is her lack of respect for authority. She is very bright, she is very mature. She sees no reason on earth why she shouldn’t have just as much clout around here as me! Perhaps this is more common than I know of with oldest children, or children in general, but when I mention it to friends they either look confused or nod knowingly and describe something their daughter has done a few times. No, no. You don’t get it. This is CONSTANT. It’s 10 minute tantrums if I shut the garage door when she planned on doing it (but didn’t tell me.) It’s the unshakable need and demand to choose “what comes next” in her bedtime routine. It’s the daily announcements of park and restaurant outings. When I say it’s not the plan for the day, I get the oft-repeated “But it’s MY plan!”
There was a month’s-long period of time when she was 2 I believe, where I refused to take her to the park. I just couldn’t cope with the 20-30 minute tantrums that always happened when we left, no matter how many “this is how many minutes we have left” warnings, and no matter how many times she happily agreed to those warnings. After a time or two of her wailing the entire mile and a half walk home, I threw in the towel. Not sure I made the right choice there, but you must know: she really, really doesn’t cope well with change.
I think I should mention one other thing: she is VERY logical. So much so that as early as 2 1/2 years old often I could head off a “I don’t want to leave now” tantrum with a detailed description of the rest of the day. No, this never ever worked at the park, but if we were leaving my sister’s house for example, I could kneel down and poke my nose against hers and say “we’ll leave, and then have a nap, and then a story, and then a snack, and then we’ll play, and then’ll we have dinner, and….” all the way to bedtime. Suddenly, she was eager to pass out hugs and kisses so we could get home for that nap and do the rest of the day. Currently she has a calendar in her room that she’s darn near memorized. She knows what day of the week her birthday is, and Christmas, and a lot of other dates she deems important.
I continue to pray and study. My husband and I spend anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour daily (you know, except during the Horrible Tax Season) discussing the kids, what they need, what their challenges are, what our ultimate goals for them are.
I hope this helps someone else who is learning to teach their beautiful Einstein children!
Filed under: Children | 12 Comments »