Parenting an Einstein Daughter

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.

Ha Doo-Day!

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!

12 Responses

  1. Keep standing firm 🙂
    Seriously though, maybe it would help if you drew out a schedule of the day for her, so she knew what was expected to happen?

  2. *hugs* Not sure what else to say! So much of what you’re saying sounds like Ming Wai…and yet it really, really DOESN’T. You know? Ernie is just…extreme.

  3. i met her, so i totally get it! it’s so interesting. i know you say it’s gotten more pronounced, but i bet this will get better in time, as she grows more independent. you sure you want to home school? 😉

  4. Interesting perspective. Other than my twins Elizabeth was by far the easiest baby to raise I have ever been around. FAR easier the three of my children. She would go for 3-4 hour walks and two hour trips to the park in “Bob” the stroller and love it. My kids would NEVER do that. She would sit and read books and do puzzles. My kids would NEVER do that. My perspective was that she was a gift and by far the easiest kid ever. Her sister is amazingly easy as well. Blog and do crafts every day? Not even a possibility when we had babies. Kids that sleep at night? Never happened. Sorry, I view this one as the easiest kiid to raise I have ever been around. Now Mimi might just trump her… 🙂


  5. I worked with a couple children like this, but more extreme… when we knew we were changing schedules for school (as they usually did the exact things at the same times every day) we would discuss it well in advance. When we were going to the circus, we talked about it weeks ahead of time, so they wouldn’t be AS freaked out when it came… Sophie loves a schedule also, but really more the thought of it, she likes order, but isn’t too bad when I change it last minute…. Good luck to you!

    • Tammy, YES. If it’s something big, we rehearse for weeks, talking about the schedule of events, what I’ll say (“time to go!”) what she’ll say (“OK, Mom!”) Still hard, but it helps 🙂 Thanks!

  6. TOTALLY understand this. And at 13, she’s a lot easier, but still has me tearing my hair out a lot of the time.

    Actually, the only people who really “got” the kind of parenting I was forced into with this child were foster parents who were familiar with children with behaviour disorders. I’m so thankful for them, because without someone to know what I was dealing with I think I would have gone stark-raving.

    Hang in there. It does get better.

    • 🙂 It’s funny, she’s an absolute sweetheart of a girl, no mistake…she’s brilliant, talented, kind hearted…just has a different motivation than most!

      Doesn’t it seem like kids with behavior disorders or autism are normal kids, with one portion of their personality amplified out of proportion?

  7. I feel for ya’…time will mellow her, and the faith that you pass onto her will put her heart in the right place. Just keep plugging away. I read somewhere that four is a repeat of the terrible twos, and it’s worse when their intellect exceeds their maturity! Precocious and four – watch out! ; ) She sure is cute.

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