Yes, I’ve gotten rid of Carl

Goodbye, annoying baseball bear, goodbye, ghost that used to say Boo! goodbye angel bear...


Out of the blue, the Boy started sleeping with his head at the foot of his bed. He liked looking out the window, he said. It really bugged me.

So, I asked if he would like to re-arrange his room so he could sleep with his head at the foot of his bed and still see out the window?  Then the plan snowballed, into choosing paint colors and a new rug, and getting rid of baby toys.

Yesterday, stage one of the plan commenced: sorting out the baby toys.  We had to clear off the desk in order to move it to the opposite side of the room. The pile of was equal parts Legos and mini animal figures, and rather than just sweeping the whole pile into a tub, we took the time to sort them into two tubs. These are the toys he plays with the most- on his desk, he builds very elaborate lego contraptions and creates animal scenes, which he narrates, documentary style.

We got the desk in place, scooted the bed and cleaned up behind it. Umm, yuck, is all I’ll say.

The Boy’s attention span for clean-up was finished. Honestly, my attention was pretty shot, too, but I couldn’t face putting him to bed in a room that was all taken apart.

The last thing I made him sort through was the stuffed animals. 

Maybe 5 years ago, I was taking some toys to Goodwill, not anyone’s favorite toys, no toy with a name- I’ve seen “Toy Story”, I’ve read the “Velveteen Rabbit,” I’m not a monster! Anyway, the Girl saw a rainbow bear in the bag- she threw a fit, “no, not the rainbow bear!!!!”

I replied, “oh really? what’s his name?” I challenged. 

She only paused an instant, and said, “Carl!”  Carl was a colleague of DH, who was always super nice to Kate, a real sweetheart. I relented. Rainbow Bear Carl now had a name…he came out of the Goodwill box. But he still never got played with very much.

Five years on, I’ve gotten wilier. Rather than gathering a box of toys on my own, I had the Boy choose.  “Go through your stuffed animals, and pick 10 that you like best.” The Boy knows me, and negotiated to 12.  When he sorted, I saw him hesitating over a really cool jellyfish, so I threw that in as a bonus, because I like it. Carl didn’t make the cut. Goodbye, Carl.

It’s not depreciation, it’s self-deprecation, idiot! er, I mean, Self Deprecation and Giftedness

bedside reading

A selection of books by my bed.

My daughter is ten, and in the gifted and talented program at her school. A few years ago, when she was first being tested, I told my sister in law, and she asked if my husband was gifted, and if that was where she had inherited her intelligence…I realized that I had done too good a job hiding my light, as it were. Covering, acting like I wasn’t as smart as I am…

Actually, I have spent 40 years swinging pendulum style from showing off knowledge, back to acting normal, then exploding with brilliance, then faking idiocy. In the 80’s in a small town, it wasn’t okay for me to act smart. I remember hemming and hawing at Trivial Pursuit questions pretending the answer wasn’t obvious, sitting on my hands in Spanish in junior high. It was absolutely not appropriate for me to get better grades on Spanish tests than the Mexican-Americans who spoke Spanish at home- they were mean to me because of it. I didn’t stop trying, I just tried to be less obvious about what I knew. Other people who grew up with me may argue, perhaps they were super-intelligent and felt their intelligence was nurtured by their peers. No one else has lived my life, and being super genius was not the way to go, most of the time for me. I developed a “self-deprecating” style in the hopes that people would like me. It doesn’t always work.

Inside, I’m still nerdy, and desperate for people to like me, or at least not hate me.. I sometimes wish I could be that person who thinks, if they don’t like me they can f— themselves, but I’m just not. See, I can’t even cuss on my own blog, I’m so desperate for you to not be offended. So, the pendulum swings again, and I listen politely while people explain things to me that I already understand, then I show off, explaining how linguists use a phonetic alphabet to transcribe people’s accents, or that the Rosetta stone is actually in the British Museum. Then I make a joke, put myself down before anyone else gets a chance to. Those boys in junior high Spanish were mean as a form of social control- they didn’t want to feel bad themselves, so they made me feel bad.

At least I have chosen a job where my intelligence is mostly rewarded. I teach, and that is a job where I can be a know-it-all. I’m supposed to be an expert, if not a genius, and so I mostly fit in here.
As an adult, I have found circles of friends who like me for me, a husband who is my peer. I am so lucky. The pendulum doesn’t swing so far that I am afraid of falling off anymore.

Knowing this, I worry for my daughter. She is, as I said, also gifted (she gets it from both of us, dammit…)and I see her crazy pendulum swings now, in upper elementary, and wonder what middle school will be like. When she gets an answer on her homework wrong, she’ll hit her forehead with the heel of her hand, chanting “stupid,’tupid, ‘tupid!” Then the pendulum swings again and she says, “actually, Mom…” and correct my misconceptions. She recently learned the word misnomer, and went around using it correctly. “Monty Python’s Flying Circus is actually a misnomer, it isn’t a circus that flies…”

I wish her grace- the skill to gracefully show what she knows without appearing snotty, I wish her confidence, not arrogance. How do I guide her? Her G.T. teacher, herself a gifted person who is the mother of a gifted girl, oddly isn’t much help…she has just come through the teenage years and wonders how she survived, I think. Conversations in the teachers’ lounge usually turn into parents bragging about how smart their children are, a round robin story topping festival. Not helpful, when I want my little girl to grow up happy…

I shared the story about my sister in law not having noticed I was smart with a colleague, herself a gifted woman. She laughed. In my voice, she said, “Oh, see, I’ve been hiding the fact that I’m smart around you because I didn’t want you to feel baaaad.” She had also spent time covering up her intelligence, but she had realized that she could be one of those people who says F you. She knows who she is, and and she isn’t going to act any differently just to make other people feel comfortable. She probably even can curse on her blog. I’ll just stay here on this pendulum until it slows down.

photo credit, Jeff Stahla

If this is how she is after a carnival, imagine her on a bad day.

Sneaking Nutrients into kids’ food

Today I thawed some stock I had made a while ago, and put a cup of brown rice and about a quarter cup of lentils into the rice cooker with about 3 cups of the stock. They should all cook in about the same amount of time, and The Boy has already commented that it smells good, so that is a good sign. The Boy doesn’t eat meat, hasn’t for about two years without serious manipulation, and this spring he declared himself a vegetarian. Which would be fine if he would eat vegetables, but he mostly eats rice. He’s a rice-a-tarian. So, today I am sneaking some iron into the rice, with lentils, also some protein.
At his recent check-up, the doctor threatened to do a blood test to see if he had enough iron stores, and actually ordered the test, but said we don’t have to get it right away. It has been a powerful manipulation tool, I can say, “try the beans, they are on the list of high iron foods. If you don’t eat enough iron, we’ll have to get that blood test”
In doing some research, I think he is getting enough iron- from fortified cereal and bread, from raisins, beans and broccoli. I recognize that he does need to eat a bigger variety of food. I have decided not to fight with him about meat, but I will fight about sweet potatoes, and spinach and other nutritious food.
So, what does anyone out there do to sneak nutrition into kids’ diets? And a related question, is it right to manipulate people into eating healthfully? What about freedom of choice?

the best thing about cooking rice in stock? The brown bits on the bottom of the pan- crunchy goodness.

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