Meet M

Since I spend a lot of time talking about mothering the smart girls, I thought it would be nice to have a few posts describing them. I am going to have to do a series of posts about each one, because it’s too hard to describe each one of them in a few words.

My oldest M, is 7 and in first grade.

helping girl

She loves helping dad with power tools. She’s using a saws-all in the picture above with dad to help remove the bushes we had in front of the house that were dead on the inside due to a strange vine/weed that was choking it. She prefers playing basketball with the boys at recess and wants to learn about baseball so she can understand what’s going on and what the big deal is about the sports days they have at school. She is a bit of a tom-boy, and doesn’t care one whit about girly things (she definitely takes after me that way). She’s also concerned about the environment and is very, very thoughtful to recycle and reduce waste and helping the planet, though remarkably, I still have to remind her to turn the light off when she leaves a room.

She has a big heart for others and one of the sweetest things I’ve witnessed was her helping a younger boy at her school with special needs put his shoe back on when he lost his shoe while he was on a swing. She just automatically went up to him and put his shoe back on and tied if for him. I love that about her (though I wish she’d extend the same courtesies to her sisters sometimes – but I do understand that her sisters are classified differently, since they are more obnoxious at times to her than her friends are).

She has a very sensitive palate, and it took a full year to get her accustomed to eating plain chicken. Her diet was limited to things like pb and j, macaroni and cheese, plain pasta and chicken nuggets and fruits and vegetables because she would have a very distressing reaction to eating meat (gagging and a strong emotional upset). To work on desensitizing her, I had to go very slowly, starting with having her put meat on her tongue for a little while, and then allowing her to spit it out. Then I worked up to taking a few chews, then spitting it out. Then eventually, she would have to eat one tiny piece of meat, then eventually we worked it up to 1 piece for every year of her age.

While working on desensitizing her to chicken, I made two power-packed items a part of her diet, just to ensure she had enough protein. I made whole wheat pancakes with more of a nutritious punch by adding blended oats (quaker oats blenderized a little bit), whey protein powder, flax seed oil, and wheat germ. I also made a lot of protein fruit smoothies – with frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, whey protein powder, a little milk, wheat germ and yogurt. Every outing we had gone to, we brought pb and j because often, there was nothing she would eat, and rather than make it a battle in front of others who didn’t understand, I just brought it along and worked on the desensitization process at home. My own family (my mother and one of my sisters, that is) didn’t understand why I couldn’t just *make* her eat meat, until I actually had tried to force her at my mom’s house for a family function. They began to understand that it went beyond simple picky eating. When they saw how distressed she was getting, they finally backed off.

After she’d been eating chicken for about a year, we introduced beef, and then pork, and now she can eat meat as long as it’s plain. We also no longer have to bring a sandwich for her everywhere we go, and that has relieved a lot of stress on us, because we know she will eat something when we go to other people’s houses or on picnics.

She is my slightly shy child who loves school, her teachers and learning. She didn’t start reading until she was in kindergarten, but now reads voraciously, and recently finished the first three books of Harry Potter. Since we won’t let her read the next books until she’s a little older, she’s now starting on the Chronicles of Narnia series. In between book series, she still manages to read three to five 3rd/4th grade books in a week for the accelerated reader program at school. She brings a book everywhere she goes these days, and it reminds me so much of myself – except I don’t remember reading quite that much until I was older.

She’s also highly curious about math, and while she does the work asked of her at school, she has asked me to teach her more math at home. So I’ve worked with her by having her do things like adding the bowling scores when we go bowling, take the scores when we play dice games like Pass the Pigs, and have her sort and sum up on paper the money in her piggy bank. She also requested to learn multiplication and we started on that a while ago, and now wants to learn division so we are working on that too. I’ve asked her to ask her teacher for more advanced math work, but she didn’t want to, and said she’d rather keep learning more things at home. I guess I’m not getting off that easy here. She also loves doing the science projects we do at home and recently wrote in her mother’s day booklet she made for that she loves me because we do science projects together. When asked what she thinks she might want to do when she grows up, she says, “a teacher”. Fortunately she’s had very warm and caring teachers so I know that’s where that comes from. They both have had lots of patience and enthusiasm when it comes to educating children.

Tempermentally, M is very even keel, and much like her father, who was “37 on the day he was born” as my mother-in-law often says about her son. She is often a very happy child and very cooperative. Like her father, she can be stubborn at times, but mostly that’s only when she’s really frustrated or tired (which doesn’t happen often). She has had some issues related to her shyness, but she’s a typical slow-to-warm-up shy child and once she warms up, she is usually fine.

It’s been exciting to see her develop and she’s blossoming very nicely. It has been very neat to see how far she’s come in just 2 years of school, both socially and academically. I’ve been very grateful to see that she is not trying to hide her abilities to fit in, and that she likes who she is and loves challenging herself and doesn’t let being a girl interfere with her desires to do anything a boy can do. So far, she’s been well received among the boys too, who let her in on their games and I hope they continue to see her on par with them. I know this might change as she gets older, but for now, she’s got a lot of respect among her little friends who are boys. We only have boys her age on our block, and her best friend is a boy. I really have no idea how she is with girls, but I hear no complaints from her.

Oh, and yeah – this is the same child who would not sleep as an infant and who couldn’t for some reason get the breastfeeding thing right no matter how hard I tried and posted about here and had to supplement with formula from birth, and who first made me look outside the mainstream for parenting advice because none of the standard advice worked. Thank goodness early on I found Dr. Sears and attachment parenting practices because she was a classic case of fussy baby. I didn’t want to harm her through CIO methods (despite all the warnings from family members I’d create a clingy child if I didn’t) though I have to admit it’s not for lack of trying, but it just didn’t work. I couldn’t let her scream. After 15 minutes of screaming, and crying outside the door myself, I couldn’t do it anymore. That’s not what I wanted to do to my child.

I’m so glad I did start attachment parenting with her, because I knew in my heart, that was the only way that made sense to me. Now I also know it was exactly the right way to parent her too because the proof is right before my eyes.

So there you have a not-so-little synopsis of my oldest child.

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