Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Spin Cycle-Kids Part 1

So the Spin Cycle this week is kids. Hmmm. What can I say? It has been terrifying, maddening, frustrating and deeply satisfying in turns. Sometimes all four at once.  Some times you get stuck in frustrating for what seems like years. Some days you’re certain that they'll be in therapy for the rest of their natural lives because you are such a fuck-up as a parent. Then they go and do something and you think that maybe you might have done okay. 

I have two daughters. Neither one is really a kid anymore. My Eldest turned 21 two weeks ago. 

She was trouble from the get-go.

My aunt died around the time she was conceived and it almost makes me believe in reincarnation cause sometimes she reminds me of my aunt so much. Eldest was a breach baby so I had a C-section.  I was frankly uninterested in trying to convince her to turn around. When the incision was made and the doctor tried to pull her out, she grabbed onto the sides of the incision and fought leaving her comfy abode.

She got the hiccups every day around 2 p.m. Before and after she was born.
She had colic. And it was annoying as hell for both of us. I tried every "cure". None of them worked.  She just had to cry for two hours. Non-stop.

She was, and is, a thinker. When she was just a baby she would sit and stare at things like she was trying to figure them out. When she got older, she started asking questions; a seemingly endless parade of questions. Mostly, how do you spell... I showed her the dictionary at around second or third grade and told her to look it up.  A born writer, that one.

During one of her Brownie Girl Scout meetings in about second grade, we showed the girls a glass of water and asked them if it was half empty or half full. Went around the circle and had them raise their hands to vote for one or the other.  Eldest didn't vote. My co-leader asked her why she didn't vote and she said it was because the answer was that it's both.  My co-leader was pretty damn unhappy to be upstaged by an 8-year-old since that was the whole point of the exercise.  I thought it was hilarious.

Being smart and introverted at such a young age didn't make her life easy. Or ours.  I came to realize that the needs of special needs kids got pretty short shrift in Texas schools. (And if you don't think the high end of the spectrum kids need as much attention as the lower, you're nuts.) I encountered teachers throughout the years that just couldn't handle having someone in their class as smart as they were. Others simply couldn't handle either end of the spectrum. I watched my co-leader's kid get labeled as special education material and as her opportunities pretty much dried up along with that labeling. 

I also got really damn tired of teachers telling me she was one of the smartest kids they'd ever had but that she just wouldn't apply herself. And they seemed at a loss to tell me why.  Doing homework? Boring. Answering questions in class? Entertaining as hell. Passing class? Meh. More than one teacher benched her. And it always pissed her off when they told her she needed to let someone else answer. 

And now she's entering her senior year at UNT working towards a degree in Emergency Administration and Planning. She's finally found something that she's passionate about. 

There were times when I thought she was going to drift along through her life and find nothing to use that brain on. I mean this is a kid who likes Algebra and Calculus and actually understands it.  Shudder. She can do equations in her head. And she can talk. Can she ever. She's held her own in discussions and arguments with adults for years. (Probably one the reasons some teachers had "issues".) She has this truly devastating glare.  Seriously. People have shriveled up and died after receiving one of these patented glares. (She claims she gets it from me) 

It has been said that raising teenagers is like nailing jello to a tree. (And that there's something wrong with the program that lets any idiot make a baby and yet fails to provide an owner's manual.) It's been frustrating yet curiously rewarding. 
And never fear, my dear.  I plan on a Part 2 to dish about your sister. 

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Sprite's Keeper said...

Eldest sounds like an awesome young woman and reminds me of myself (give or take a few math equations) when I was in school, one of those kids who managed to throw the teacher for a loop because we thought of something the teacher never considered. Great Spin! You're linked!

Aliceson said...

At least you were able to recognize her intelligence and steer her in the right direction. Sometimes I think that teachers take the teaching part too seriously. Just because school came easy for your daughter doesn't mean that teachers had the right to ignore her. One of many problems with the public school system. Not that there aren't great teachers in public schools, you know what I'm getting at.

My youngest had colic as a baby too, it was awful! She did a complete 180 when we switched her baby formula for goat milk. I finally got some sleep but had the added work of caring for 2 goats...

Great Spin!