Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Time. It's something we parents think about when it comes to our children. It's a constant, recurring theme. We start by counting them off by weeks when we're pregnant. Then when our due dates come we start to ask how many more days...? We record their ages when they smile, roll over, sit, crawl, speak, walk...and onward. How old are they when they learn to read, to ride a bike, to tie their shoes, to tell time?
We measure and compare and wonder. Sometimes we have a child that skips walking altogether and runs, leaving us panting to keep up. For me that would be Sunburst. She's always racing ahead as if time were a fleeting thing. And sometimes we have a child that is content to just sit it out and dream. Clock? What's that?
I know a lot of it boils down to personality, but I would be ignorant if I didn't notice there was something more to it. Learning is a bit of a struggle for Moonshine. The only thing that makes complete sense to her is math, oddly enough. Reading has been a struggle. Music has been a struggle. Even the physicality of playing with other children has been a struggle.
She's always been this dreamy child, head in the clouds, feet tripping unaware into traffic. Catching balls, finger games, clapping games, climbing, running, jumping... all sort of mysterious activities to her. She's on her own schedule, always has been-- I carried her for 42 and a half weeks before she was willing to make the journey towards the light of day. She started speaking at 8 months but waited the requisite 12 months to walk. She's reading now, but once in awhile the words come out backwards. Sometimes she forgets words she has already learned, and sometimes she reverses letters and numbers.
It's not laziness. She works extremely hard. Math concepts come easy for her, but the rhythmic counting by twos and threes and fives and tens is a challenge. Rhythm and coordination are somewhere out in left field. Pencil grip is awkward, but artistic expression is still realized despite it.
Moonshine can out-think all of us at the dinner table, Einstein included. But if she were in regular school she'd be behind. She wants to learn so badly, but she already recognizes it as a bit of a challenge both inside and outside herself. And that, in simple terms, sucks. It makes learning less joyous than it should be.
I'm continually fascinated by her and completely humbled by the task of teaching her. With Sunburst, it's easy to think I have it all figured out. With Moonshine, I find myself rethinking everything, constantly reevaluating and reorganizing and relearning how to teach, how best to guide her, and how to help her acquire the tools she needs.
And with two completely different school-aged children, it's hard for me to draw the line at what's in the range of normal. Sunburst makes a lousy yardstick. She has always out-raced, out-cheetahed, and out-risked all of her friends. Moonshine is more cautious. She is the only child I have that recognizes the value of a good night's sleep-- she's not so afraid about missing out on the action. And she's still the only child I can take to the grocery store who doesn't knock over displays, tip grocery carts, or run amok. It's kind of refreshing, actually, but at the same time I find the learning issues hard to blog about.
I don't want to label her. I just want to understand her and help her the best that I can. I have been making it a point not to push her, rather waiting until she feels ready, until her clock starts ticking and her enthusiasm kicks in. But I'm starting to think that sometimes our inner clocks need a bit more winding from the outside now and then.
In the end, I think she'll have a lot more endurance than Sunburst. She'll know what hard work feels like, and her successes will be that much greater. In the end, it won't matter so much how long and arduous the road was or even when her clock started ticking. She'll be right on time.