When I was on bedrest (week 14 to week 37!), I read stacks of them. When Iris didn't follow the scripts, I referred back to those books. Either the books are all wrong, or Iris is all wrong. Like I wrote earlier, Iris did not read any of the parenting books and had no idea how she should behave.
[Sure, lots of books claim their system trains any baby to eat/sleep/potty train/clean up. Let them come over to my house.]
Recently, a trusted friend recommended the child development books by the Gesell Institute of Human Development, written by Louise Bates Ames et al. My friend said that, at every age, the books gave her insight into the development of her children. But, which one should I read? Iris has been diagnosed as highly asynchronous in her development; she is chronologically 7, but she exhibits behaviors from terrible twos on up to adulthood.
I went to the library and checked out everything they had between 5 and 9 inclusive. The have such cute titles:
- Your One-Year-Old: The Fun-Loving, Fussy 12-To 24-Month-Old
- Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender
- Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy
- Your Four-Year-Old: Wild and Wonderful
- Your Five Year Old: Sunny and Serene
- Your Six-Year-Old: Loving and Defiant
- Your Seven-Year-Old: Life in a Minor Key
- Your Eight Year Old: Lively and Outgoing
- Your Nine Year Old: Thoughtful and Mysterious
The basic premise is that cognitive development, like physical development, goes through growth spurts. Children behave
On an airplane, I met a mother that was reading Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. (I started a conversation with her when I turned around to ask her to tell her child not to kick my kidneys repeatedly. It was going to be a long flight and I need my kidneys.) I also checked that out from the library and read it.
What a relief to read about children more spirited than my own! The book has many good tips for how to avoid meltdowns. We had already stumbled upon many of them through trial and error. I highly recommend reading that book, whether you have a spirited child or not. Chances are, you will encounter spirited children in your child's classroom and this will help you relate.
I also found some comfort in Counseling the Gifted and Talented , edited by Linda Kreger Silverman, particularly chapter 7, Counseling Families.
Most parents are not joyously enthusiastic to learn that they have a gifted child. When I share test results with parents of exceptionally gifted children, the tissue box is always close by. For some, it is as big a shock as being told that their child is developmentally disabled. They mourn the loss of their fantasy of having a "normal" child whose needs will be easily taken care of within the regular classroom. Any exceptionality places a heavy burden of responsibility on the parent, but parents of other exceptional children have societal support and sympathy, whereas parent of the gifted have neither.The first time I read that passage, my mind changed the wording to, "They mourn for the loss of the 'normal' childhood they hoped to give their children." It took me several months to work through that grief.
The best piece of parenting advice I ever read came out of a knitting book. (I wish I could recall which one.) The author counseled placing a stitch marker every 20 stitches or so while casting on. Why? Because, when a child calls for your attention, you should never make them wait more than 20 seconds before giving them your undivided attention. It is appropriate to tell them, "Hold on until I finish this repeat. Then I will attend to you." (There are exceptions like they are bleeding to death or the house is burning down.)
There you have it. Parenting in a nutshell (and from an unlikely source!). Children learn that attention will be paid, but they might have to wait a few seconds for it. In other words, you should put on your oxygen mask before helping your children with theirs.
This precludes me from knitting any lace with repeats greater than 20 stitches for a few more years.