Oh Asynchrony, you’re going to be the death of me! Whenever I get frustrated throughout the day, you’re almost always behind it. Every time I ask myself “WHY?!” there you are, whispering in my ear in your stupid sing-song voice.
What is asynchrony you ask? It’s a fancy word for “out-of-sync.” It basically sums up my life as a parent. My kiddo is lightyears ahead intellectually, but emotionally he’s 4. One minute, he’s telling me about right angles and the next he’s throwing a tantrum over having to put on his own socks. I like to say I have 4 kids between the ages of 2 and 20 all rolled into one. And it gives me whiplash trying to figure out which kid I’m dealing with at any minute. And sometimes it’s more than one! Like when he read the cover of I am Malala and I had to come up with a way of explaining the Taliban and women’s rights to a preschooler who simultaneously understands on an intellectual level but on an emotional level does not have the life experience to understand that bad things happen to good people. Talk about horrifying. My nerves are shot!
It’s impossible as a mom to know how to navigate each situation we’re confronted with. Every time we reach an impasse I ask myself “is this a reasonable expectation to have of him?” Because yeah, it’s not a reasonable expectation when you want your 4 year old to practice reading James and the Giant Peach aloud; but for Kaleb, it is. He can do it. And it’s my job to help him understand that he can do it. But is it a reasonable expectation to ask a 4 year old to not cry when he’s disappointed that his day didn’t go as planned? Well, I don’t freaking know?? Because emotional regulation falls under the 4 year old stuff and I have no gauge to know what 4 is like. All I can do is try to help him learn an appropriate response and coping skills and try to walk the line between being too hard on my kid and too easy on him. It’s exhausting.
It’s one of those things that you start looking for expert advice about. You know, the dreaded milestones. Theoretically, milestones are awesome checkpoints that help you discern if your parenting is on track. The only problem is not all children fit the checkpoints. Sure, the average child does. But what the fuck is the average child? No child is going to fit all of the milestones, even if their name is John Smith and they live in the family with 2.2 children and a station wagon in the 1950s. Kids are these crazy wild creatures that like to scare us to death. They sure as heck aren’t going to give us any kind of reassurance like succumbing to the almighty milestone checklist. So thanks, expert advice, but you’ve been useless here.
Okay, I shouldn’t say that completely. There are plenty of experts that have been a huge help to me. Experts that deal in gifted kiddos seem to hit the nail on the head. But the problem is, most children aren’t identified as gifted until as late as 3rd grade, the belief being that “all kids level out by 3rd grade.” I could write an entire blog post about my grievances with that one, let me tell you. And profoundly gifted is to gifted as gifted is to average. It’s a huge range. So, as far as I know anyway, there isn’t a “raising baby the gifted way” parenting book I can read while we navigate these rocky early years. I mean, I get it. There probably shouldn’t be a gifted baby book because even as someone who believes that these kids’ intelligence shows up scary early in some cases, I feel like it would be so completely abused by people who don’t understand that gifted doesn’t mean smart. It doesn’t mean successful. It doesn’t mean rich and powerful and right all the time. It just means a brain that works differently.
So what’s the problem with asynchrony? Well, how do you handle a child who:
Can hold intelligent conversations about the periodic table but doesn’t understand that you need to close your eyes to sleep?
Can explain that he needs to borrow instead of using negative numbers when doing subtraction but can’t remember which shoe goes on what foot?
Watches Periodic Videos and Crash Course Chemistry but cries when iPad time is up?
Can type a story with proper spelling and punctuation but can’t print legibly?
It’s frustrating as all hell. I look at this crazy intelligent kiddo and have to constantly remind myself he’s only 4. And I have to figure out the appropriate way to parent him. And sometimes, I know I get it wrong. I’m too hard or too soft and all I want to do is get it right! And I can’t look to anyone for guidance. It has to be a balancing act within our own family. Which in some ways, is kind of a blessing.
So if you see me forcing my kiddo to do something that’s completely unnatural for a 4 year old, please don’t judge me. And I promise to do the same. Let’s be honest though, we’re both probably way too busy with our own shit to worry about what the other is doing.
And asynchrony, you confuse me, cause self doubt in my parenting skills, and exhaust every ounce of brain power I have. But I wouldn’t change you for a thing because you give us some good laughs sometimes.