“My Child is Advanced!”

The Next Family

By: Stacey Ellis

Stacey Ellis baby in the pool

When we decided to adopt our daughter, most of our friends were pregnant, had just given birth, or were trying to get pregnant.  Now that our daughter is six months old, she has a bunch of other same-age friends.   My friends have said more than a few times, “My child is so advanced.”  My husband and I laugh every time we hear that word, “advanced”.  What really is “advanced” for a six-month-old?  She sits up?  Uh, yeah, she’s supposed to be doing that.  She rolls over in her crib?  Uh, yeah, she’s supposed to be doing that, too.  She’s counting to 10? Okay, yep, that’s advanced.  But none of the babies is doing that quite yet.  Every one of my friends’ kids seems to be finding something he or she likes.

Our daughter LOVES water.  Tubby time is her favorite time of the day.  All we have to do is say, “kickie kickie” and she is kicking away at the water.  She even loves when we put the faucet over her head.   So we started going to swim lessons on Saturday.  We figured it’s a fun family activity and she would enjoy it.  Granted, she’s not exactly learning how to swim, but we toss a duckie in front of her and she “paddles” her way there.  She loves hanging out on the noodle and when we say “kickie kickie” – oh does she kick!  She loves “jumping” off the side of the pool.  She’s been standing for long periods of time since she was two months old so while we have to hold her, she really does jump.  She even goes under the water and comes up with a big smile or spits out the water if she took some in.  A few parents have walked up to us and asked us how old she is, some commenting that they wished their kids would enjoy the water as much.  We just figured every child is different – some like the swing; some like the bouncie or exersaucer;  some like water.  Ours likes it all so we considered ourselves lucky to have such an amenable child!  No matter what she’s doing, she has such a good time, she wipes herself out and falls right to sleep moments after the activity is over.

We added Gymboree to our weekend fun on Sundays.  And she has just as much fun.  She loves the bubbles, songs, and play games. And she loves the Gymbo clown puppet.   She is fully engaged, reaching out for the balls during tummy time on the mirror, reaching out for Gymbo the clown puppet, and reaching for the bubbles in the air.  She moves her own legs during the song “wheels on the bus.”  She just wants to keep moving and doing whatever the adults are doing.  Then we noticed it.   The other children seemed more passive – letting their mom and dad do the work as they lay down or sat in their parents’ laps.   Our daughter could sit up on her own. The other six-month-olds weren’t quite on their own yet.  Our daughter was standing for long periods of time, merely holding onto our fingertips.  The others weren’t standing for more than a few seconds.   The teacher called her an “overachiever”.  I took that as a compliment that she’s following in her mom’s footsteps.  But does that make her, “advanced”?

Dare I use the word that I had laughed at so many times before?   If she were advanced, I wouldn’t be embarrassed by it; I’d embrace it and of course help her achieve her full potential in whatever she wants to do.  But I think back to what my mom taught me when I was a child.  When kids teased me in school for being chunky, my mom would say to me, “Just like some kids can play sports well, some kids can do art well, some kids can read better than others – it’s the same with appearance – some kids are thin, some kids are fat, some kids are in-between– everyone has something – good or bad – and you may never know what that something is but that something is what makes us all unique and it’s more fun being unique than being like everyone else.”  I was about seven years old when she said this and I must have repeated it a thousand times when I was being teased — “It’s more fun to be unique than to be like everyone else.”    So, do I think my child is unique?   Absolutely.  She’s adopted. She’s a quarter black.  She’s happy.   She loves to swim and she loves Gymboree.  She’s sitting up, reaching out for mom and dad, and belly laughs at our funny faces.  She’s been sleeping through the night since she was three months old.  She loves to stand and pull up and may walk before she crawls.

But does that make her advanced?  No, probably not – at least I’m not going to label her or set those expectations now because I don’t think a six-month-old having fun makes her “advanced”….I think it makes her in the wrong Gymboree class.  Next week we’ll move up a level and see if she can keep up with the big kids.

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