Monday, January 10, 2011

"How old are YOU!"

Ah, the guessing game of judging the intelligence of a two year old. I call it a guessing game because there is a story circulating about Albert Einstein that he was a late talker. So often we like to judge future intelligence based on whether or not a child is potty trained by a certain age, talking by a certain age, and can answer certain questions correctly at a certain time. 

Yesterday we asked my two year old her name. She pointed to herself and said "Wonange". (Which is how she says "Orange"). We asked her how old she is. "How old are YOU!" she shouts back at us. The only reason I've been trying to work with her on learning these things is because other people as her these questions, then stare at me like I'm a bad parent when she answers, "Wonange". I just shrug my shoulders and smile, fumbling, "She's my third...".

But of course she knows her name. She's been turning her head to it since she was teeeeeny.

I remember asking a neighbor boy (Gilly) how old he was. He said "Truck". I knew he was three.

Does it matter if a child knows how old they are at two? Would a two or three year old even really understand what that means? Essentially for the little ones, it is a game we adults make up to keep us entertained, not something we need to see as an early indicator of a child headed to Harvard.

And if this isn't a case in point... When I was little I was always testing off the charts academically. Special schools and special programs were mentioned to my parents - for kids as bright as apparently I was. But guess what? I was only bright until it involved math or science. Once those two things became a bigger part of curriculum (around sixth grade or so)...guess what? I was, eh-hem, average. Meanwhile, a few kids I knew who couldn't/wouldn't talk until later, and struggled in the early years of school, are now lawyers and engineers.

I am officially taking the pressure off of myself to have my daughter call herself anything besides "Wonange".


Melinda said...

Thank you for this! I have been trying to come up with a way to express how much I agree with this but I can't say it better than you have. I especially love this part "it is a game we adults make up to keep us entertained, not something we need to see as an early indicator of a child headed to Harvard." My 3 year old tells everyone he is 5!

cally said...

My 3 year old just snorts.

Which is a good indicator to me she is totally completely absolutely normal.

I loved this.

Max California said...

Maybe that's what she wants to be called ^_^

My son is almost 20 months, and he can't talk yet at all. You ask him, "Can you say Daddy?" sometimes without prompting he will say it, but if you ask him he gets a shy look on his face and hides.

He just doesnt want to. He understands every single word I say though!
"If you keep hitting me I will take that torch off you, do you want that?" He shakes his head.

He's all good. He walked a bit later than his friends, but not as late that it was odd. I know he'll talk when he wants to.

sixmoores said...

My lovely three year old just wants to talk about farting and is proud she can out fart grandpa. Mom and Dad will have some fun stories to share when they get home.

Althea said...

A-men to THAT!!!

A lesson I continue to learn is to NOT compare children. They are as varied as...well...children!

Thanks for the very well-written piece.

megadog said...

Give little orange a break. She's a smart little whip. I agree with you on the development thing--they all develop at different rates and they all even out except for the rare Albert Einstein.

jodi said...

Wonange is saying something and thats all that matters. Gilly still says truck when you ask him his age.

Mindy said...

Oh, I love Wonange. And I found Wonage to be quite smart the day I watched her a couple months ago. We were playing with her fabric letters, and she was identifying all sorts of those letters.
So here's what I'm worried about, people in my ward making a big deal out of how smart they think Nash is because she is pretty verbal for her age. What am I going to do when the other couple of kids in the ward catch up to her (which they will, because, like you said, kids just develop the verbal skills at different paces)and then everyone starts saying, "I thought that Nash was really smart, but it seems like she's taken a step backwards." I feel this pressure that she has to be smart now because she talked early.

Christina said...

Sigh of relief. I needed to hear this. I get all worried sometimes because when people ask my six year old questions, he acts, well, kind of special. No eye contact, short answers in a weird babyish kind of voice, walks around in circles... I get embarrassed. But after reading this post, I realize that I shouldn't be embarrassed. Fact is, my son doesn't really care to talk to these people. And the way he manipulates us into doing what he wants, I know he is a genius :).

lisa said...

If I had a dime for everytime I said "He's my third".....