C. was always in a hurry. As a newborn, she seemed to sleep very little. She always wanted to be “up”…peering over my shoulder or facing outwards. To this day my mother still talks about seeing her granddaughter for the first time at 3 weeks, and thinking that she had never seen such a “knowing” expression on a baby. So intent, so alert.
C. hit developmental milestones early, and seemed to be in a hurry to go to the next one when one was accomplished: Sitting, okay. Done. Let’s try crawling, cruising. She walked at nine months. She climbed…we once found her at the top of the burglar bars of our breezeway. As a toddler she had very advanced motor skills: skipping, hopping, eye-hand coordination, crossing the midline. She mastered doing cartwheels at 4. She babbled early, complete gibberish but with the most amazing inflection and tone, as if she really were an adult talking, holding a conversation. She spoke early too, with unusual clarity, and with an unusual depth of vocabulary. She went through a phase where she wanted to write and neatly “wrote” lines and lines of loops. She was ambidextrous (still is) … cutting with scissors and throwing objects with her left hand, using her right for other things. She was a “bag lady” … she liked to put items into purses and containers according to her own system of sorting. She liked to take string and run it around the furniture. Needless to say, C. loved books and being read to. She memorized Mulan by age three and would “read” it aloud.
In fact she had a startling memory. I remember taking a walk around the outbuildings of a hotel in Africa with her when she was not quite two and passing by the laundry. She insistently pointed to a distinctive striped shirt that a worker was hanging to dry. She remembered having seen it on a guest earlier in the day. She routinely remembered things, details, that I had forgotten.
Very early we started getting the “How old is she?” It was all the more freaky because she was a little peanut, with lot’s of hair that made her seem older than she really was . (Every month I trundled her to the Health Unit for a weigh in, concerned that she was in the 5th percentile for height and weight.)
And she was intense. She could go from laughing to crying to laughing in seconds it seemed. She was very mom-focused. Until I weaned her at 2 she basically wanted little to do with my husband…wouldn’t go on errands with him. We left her in the care of a friend one evening and found her asleep in front of the door when we returned…she had cried the entire time and fallen asleep there. She was initially wary of people, but then was utterly charming, and as a toddler would talk to anyone. She had very definite opinions about her clothing from the time she was a year-old onward, with certain beloved items that she would want to wear again and again. Convincing her to “switch seasons” was challenging.
Getting medicine into her (for she often had ear infections) was a nightmare. With C. it was a two person operation: one person to hold her, the other person to hold her nose and pour it down. It was awful. Meanwhile I was amazed as other moms reported their kids happily slurping down the sweetened, flavored stuff.
There are moments that still live on in family history: when we put a rug in her room that she didn’t like and she howled, struggling to drag it out (age 3.5); when we had to cut down a small cherry tree in the backyard and she was just beside herself at the loss, insisting that we save pieces of it; and the infamous, epic IKEA tantrum. That was the one where she got in a power struggle with my mom and insisted–repeatedly, at the top of her lungs, from the checkout, into the car and all the way home from White Marsh (about an hour)–that my mother apologize to her. That fierce will.
But she was our first. What did we know? You get what you get and you go with it. We had no basis for comparison. We were a family of bright, verbal people. We were living overseas for the first three and a half years of her life and encountered very few American kids her age. She just seemed like a bright little thing. Our C.
[Check here for a good general article, Questions about extreme intelligence in very young children. Click here for Parenting Gifted Preschoolers and here for The Highly Gifted Baby. And I highly recommend Deborah Ruf's Losing Our Minds...see link in the right sidebar under "You Must Read..." or this article.]