I’ve always prided myself on being smart. You know, not Einstein smart but smarter than the average bear.
In kindergarten, we all knew that the purple reading group was the top readers and the black reading group was for those who needed extra help. I was in the purple group and I was proud of it.
In sixth grade, I was in a group of six who were allowed to read whatever we wanted because we’re already read everything in the set curriculum. It was awesome.
In seventh grade, five of us were sequestered in an empty classroom to teach ourselves eighth grade math because we were all beyond what they were teaching in seventh grade. The next year, we were put with the freshman and taught algebra. Each year after, we continued to be with the class of 88 (we were the class of 89. Gosh, I’m old, huh?) for math. I hated math. I hated algebra and trigonometry and geometry and calculus but I stuck with those classes because, damn it, it meant I was smart. It had to mean that, right?
High school was easy. I went to a tiny high school. There were only 44 of us in my graduating class. It was easy to be smart in a school that small.
College was a little tougher. Not much, but a little. I went to Indiana University. I LOVED college even though I had to work a little harder for good grades.
I once dated a guy who turned out to be a jerk. He was manipulative and selfish and when he realized our relationship was almost over, he tried to tell me that he’d heard a rumor that was going around. He acted like he didn’t want to tell me. He hemmed and hawed and finally told me that the rumor was that he and I met in a strip club.
I must have given him a blank look because he elaborated, saying as gently (ick) as possible, “The rumor is that you were a dancer.”
Then I got it. I realized what he was trying to do. I laughed and said, “People think I could be a stripper? Awesome!”
I could see by the look on his face that his plan had backfired. He’d hoped that this ‘rumor’ would hurt my self-esteem, that it would make me doubt myself.
See, this dude wasn’t used to dating women smarter than he was. Or, wait. Maybe all the women he’d dated were smarter than he was (it wasn’t hard to be smarter) but he was used to dating women who already had low self-esteem and he played on that.
I want my girls to grow up knowing how smart they are. Yes, we tell them all the time how pretty and funny and creative they are. But I want them to take pride in their intelligence too.
Alyssa has, in the past year, become quite the reader. If she’s not out riding her bike or doing cartwheels, she’s reading. She came home the other day and announced that she’s currently got the second highest score in an extra-curricular reading contest going on in her class. I am so proud of her. More importantly, though, she’s proud of herself. She loves that she’s in the top two, that she’s doing better than most in her class.
I don’t want to necessarily foster competition with anyone but herself but I love that she already loves being smart. I love that she’s pushing herself.
All I ask of either of my girls is that they do their best. It doesn’t matter where they land in the group as long as they can honestly say they did the best they could.
When O’s teacher told me that in a couple of areas of kindergarten academics, Olivia is actually ahead of the curve, I was pleasantly surprised. Not surprised that O is smart, but surprised that her teachers were able to ascertain that.
I mean…she’s got 5p- syndrome. An intellectual delay is a given, right? Except, maybe it’s not. Maybe we need to continue to expect her very best and not be surprised when her best is just as good as, if not better than, those around her. She shines, just like her sister. And I am so proud of both of them and always will be as long as they continue to do their best, no matter where that lands them in pack.