Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sam at 2 Years, 8 Months

Yesterday we wrapped up our sessions with the psychiatrist who was evaluating Sam and I must say, it was a massive, massive relief.

She taped our family "play" session and in it, she found so many things about my bright, playful, precocious child that I had quite simply missed. For instance, Sam is trying so hard to be a good girl, she is working so hard at it that she often has meltdowns, but there are clues leading up to when a meltdown is coming and ways of heading them off at the pass. Who knew?

When she is headed in that direction, Sam pauses and she tries to redirect her energy. She looks around the room and uses her "immense creativity" to find something else to play with, but the problem is that this particular skill is years (literally years) ahead of where she should be developmentally. Her precocity is deceiving or, according to Dr. Blank, "She is really two children, the baby 2-year-old she should be and the astounding six-year-old she is capable of being."

In watching the tapes, I became very emotional because I think that in all of my worrying about Sam (and wondering if she would be a serial killer), I missed what a sweet little girl she really is. I think I missed how HARD she is working just to be a good girl and please us and how much of her still needs to be treated like a baby even as she tells me "Mommy! I a big girl, I can do it all myself."

The therapist said that we are to view Sam like a racehorse. That she is a little girl who is amazingly self-motivated, precocious and yes, very, very gifted. We should encourage her self-motivation and her interests in reading and making up stories and singing and math, but that we should also help her slow down. She is going to push herself so hard in life that we need to be the ones to reign her in and help her have a strong, loving base.

The danger with Sam is not that she will not succeed, but that she will push herself too hard. Even more, she is very sensitive, so my yelling and anger has the opposite reaction with her. "She needs a light touch," Dr. Blank explained.

In all seriousness, I found the whole thing to be enlightening. I think I had been relating to her so much that I forgot she also is half her father. He can't STAND to be yelled at and is super sensitive (to a fault, in my opinion). Turns out she is like me, but she is also like him. She also told us that when Alan is her age (poor little baby boy) we will realize just how very advanced Sam is (implying that Alan will be some drooling goon, I suppose. Ha!)

She said that all of the classes I have been taking with Sam are not only ok, that they are good for her. That part of the reason she is so advanced is that she has had so much and such varied stimulation at a young age. This was a relief for me because I had started to worry that I was pushing her too hard. The main takeaway message is that for all of her independence and precocity and intelligence, Sam is really only 2-years-old. "She needs to be babied and rocked and loved," said Dr. Blank.

She said that based on her decades of experience that Sam will grow into the kind of child who will want to (and probably can) "go into Harvard at 15." But that our job as parents is to remind her of her youth, to encourage her to slow down and to go to her in moments where it seems like she is acting too old for her age and to encourage her to be our baby just a little longer.

Honestly, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. So much of what I already thought about Sam was confirmed, but I have also learned so many new things and have so many parenting strategies to take away. I LOVE this doctor. If anyone in the Boston area would like her name (she is really well-known nationally and considered one of the top in the country), please email me privately.

In other news, it has been a good month for Sam. Her transition to school has been easy with very few road bumps. She seems happier with this schedule and she has become increasingly loving and adorable with her brother.

On Sunday, the whole fam will be out watching me run my marathon. I am very nervous since Alan is sick and I might be headed that way. But it is what it is.

I have also been hard at work on the ensemble Halloween costumes we will all be sporting on Oct. 31 and am quit looking forward to trick-or-treating. Sam is going to LOVE it this year.

Happy October!


Andromeda said...

"Asynchronous development" is my favorite buzzword from the gifted ed world. Also, Deborah Ruf has a good book (whose title I am presently forgetting) on what highly gifted people are like as infants/toddlers/young children. ("Either unusually intense or unusually laid-back, but seldom in between" is, yes, one of the points I remember. ;)

Anonymous said...