By Kristen C.
It doesn't take much for mothers to believe their child is a genius. It starts innocently enough. "My son can sing Twinkle Twinkle in English and Spanish," or "My daughter can stack her blocks in a Frank Lloyd Wright type structure" and suddenly, you are surrounded by future MENSA members.
And instead of just going on your merry way while your child beats the heck out of the drum with a maraca in what could quite possibly be an "anti-rhythm," you try to convince yourself that your not-yet-walking 14.7-month-old who says nothing but "dada" and can throw her smashed peas, avocado, and sweet potatoes so they hit you directly on your forehead in what you swear looks like a Jackson Pollack circa 1942 is smarter than them all.
After enduring long days and long nights where my child was attached to my breast stopping only to breathe and poop, I was excited when she started interacting and responding. But instead of talking in full sentences, she just said "dada" and "more." And instead of dancing circles around me with perfect turnout and pointed toes, she toddled around later than most of the other kids. And while I was far from disappointed, I do admit to being a little surprised.
Now at 26 months, she's far from what I would consider typical. She can draw balloons and faces, complete with ears, hair, and beards, and she reads along to her own bedtime stories, tells the lady at the bank that she'd "like a pink lollipop puh-lease," and reminds me at least 14 times a day that she would like to watch Curious George.
And while I'm fiercely proud of the lovely brilliant person she is becoming, there's a part of me who can't help but enjoy the typical toddler stuff she does that makes her just plain two. Maybe it's because I was taking ballet and 2 1/2 and playing the violin at 3. And while those opportunities have served me well in my life, there's something simply marvelous about watching your child achieve those milestones that make them a "regular old kid." Like when my daughter threw her first "knock 'em down, drag 'em across three rooms and a kitchen floor" 15 minute tantrum, pooped in the tub, and drew faces all over our living room wall. Who cares if she can speak four languages when she can color in the Tiggers on her bed sheets with a permanent marker? Now THAT is worth bragging about.
So, imagine my surprise and utter joy when my daughter waddled into my office the other day with a colored pencil stuck up her nose, hands waving back in forth in a silly joyful dance of achievement. It took all I had not to laugh hysterically while reprimanding her. And later that week, I actually caught her engaging in full-fledged nose picking. NOSE PICKING? HOORAY! It took all I had to not pick up the phone and call my own mother to let her know "the good news."
Perhaps nose picking is far from brag-able, but with all the pressures to involve our kids in tons of activities and classes before they can even talk in full sentences, I've found comfort in what might be considered typical. And as a first time parent, I can't help but feel proud that my child is just being a kid.
And while I think it's awesome when kids can do "downward facing dog" and recite Tennyson for memory, I'm just as pleased to hear about how they ate a bug and did a scary (but harmless) somersault off their toddler bed.
Because for me, all the other stuff, like my daughter's ability to do 30 piece puzzles, sing almost totally in tune, and recite the Gettysburg address while tightrope walking, is just icing on the cake.
Kristen is a former college music professor turned stay-at-home-mother/rock star to her 20-month-old daughter, Quinlan.