I chose to have Ethan IQ tested for a few reasons. First, he needs someone to be able to advocate for him, and that someone has to be his parents. He was moved into Pre-K at age three. He won't begin Kindergarten until he's nearly six. He can already do the work. What does that mean for next year when he has to repeat Pre-K? They have already said that he's learning how to work at the other kids' level. That's not what I want him to do. I want him to work at HIS level. As any parent would.
I don't know if you've ever received or ever given "the look." I have received it. And it doesn't feel good. It goes something like this. My dissertation chair is also the principal at one of the elementary schools in our school district. So I was talking to her about Ethan and my fears about kindergarten, and she gave me the, "oh-you're-one-of-those-parents-that-thinks-her-kid's-a-genius" look. The one that says, "all parents think their children are smart. Do I really have to have this conversation." She placated me with some nonsense about how kindergarten is set up to meet the needs of all kids. Problem is what happens when academically the child DOES already know everything and realizes that he already knows everything? That's not the same as saying he's socially ahead because Ethan is anything but that. But she certainly wasn't giving me any indication of how they could meet his needs. Because to her, as I have been to any one I've talked to, I'm just another overly-involved Mom that thinks her kid is brilliant. So I need to prove it.
Second, Ethan is not a typical child. A book I'm reading says, "Can you imagine having Jim Carrey, Whoopi Goldberg, and Robin Williams---intense, verbally expressive stand-up comedians---as children and all in the same third-grade classroom or at the same dinner table...this is what these children are like." And that is what Ethan is like. You see he falls into the psychomotor oversensitivity. Activity isn't an option or a choice. It is a REAL NEED for him. He needs to be active from the time his feet hit the floor until the time they go back to bed. His preschool has said, "How are you not exhausted all the time? He's exhausting." They're in the business of kids and he exhausts them! They love him. They're enthralled by him. They're fascinated by the way his mind works, but he's also so exhausting because he's on ALL THE TIME. And the thing, if I say that to people, they say, "Oh yeah, all kids are. They have so much energy." Re-read the bit about the three comedians. That's my life ALL THE TIME. I can't describe in a way that people understand the intensity of this child. I just can't. You have to live it, and it's not easy. It's not.
There are days when I want to throw my hands in the air and say, "I just can't do this." There are moments when I know that I will fail him. I'm constantly struggling to figure out how to raise him. And so doing this provided me with the knowledge that I am not crazy. I was right. The kid is wicked smart and the kid is high-energy, active needs. He really doesn't shut down. He really doesn't need as much sleep as the rest of us. He really is normal for who Ethan is. There's nothing wrong with him. He just doesn't fit into the confines of a "normal child," but he is quite normal.
While he's still, and will continue to be, quite the challenge, I find myself relieved because now I know for sure what's going on and now I have access to resources that can help us raise him and help him grow. We can support his needs better and ensure that he has the opportunities he needs to express his energy and his uniqueness and his unending drive.
You see, Ethan may be a challenge, but Ethan is so much more than that. He's enigmatic. He's inspiring. He's full of life and energy and most people are enthralled by him. People are drawn to him. He magnetizing. He's sweet, he's loving, he's all these millions of wonderful things and he's--most of the time--a pleasure to be around. He's FUN. And I adore this child. I truly adore him. And conversation with are GREAT. And I want to make sure that he doesn't lose who he is through the system. Because the system---let's be honest---likes conformity. And I do not want him to conform at the detriment of who he is. Period.
Ethan scored high. He scored gifted. We're not telling him that. And we didn't tell him we were testing his IQ. We didn't tell him it was a test at all. He doesn't need to know. He'll figure it all out on his own, I'm sure. But for now, nothing changes for him....sort of.
We are going to go through about five behavioral sessions because he needs to learn a few things. Such as following directions instead telling you what the directions SHOULD be. Learning that sometimes even if he knows something, others may want to see it. He tends to tell people he already knows how to do it, so he doesn't have to. This is called arrogance and is common. He needs to learn how to be more empathetic. And also how to direct his energies. And Mom and Dad need to learn ways of helping him acquire these skills. We need to learn discipline techniques that might help us.
We also have to change a few other things. Instead of an 8:00 p.m. bedtime, we're moving to 9:00 p.m. bedtime. We're looking into Tae Kwon Do, which is good for kids like Ethan because it teaches teamwork, self-discipline, and structure. We will be instituting a new token system that will hopefully help him learn a little discipline at home as well.
He is a very bright, very energetic, very GREAT kid. He just needs more structure. And the way I see it, we need help, too. Why? Because you don't raise kids with developmental struggles the same way you raise average children. So you don't raise gifted kids the same way you raise average children either.
I am excited and nervous about this journey with my oldest. I am excited to watch him grow and to see his brain work. He's an amazing child. I'm nervous that I won't be able to advocate strongly enough for him. That I won't be able to aid in his growth. That I'll miss the opportunity to ensure his needs are met. I want him to be a well-rounded child, teen, and adult. I want my expectations to be realistic. He's smart, but he's still four. He's still a kid and he still needs to play like a kid and act like a kid and be a kid. And I have to foster that as well. And so I'll leave with two "Ethanisms" that show his age:
- Last week, I told Ethan, "Get dressed, I have a treat with your name on it. I'll give it to you when you get dressed and get in the car." He did, so I gave him a Snickers. As I was carrying Dylan to the car, I noticed Ethan looking at his Snickers, turning it around and around. So I asked, "What are you doing?" His response?
"I don't see my name on it anywhere."
- I told Ethan to drink his Elderberry Juice. "Why?" he asks. So I explain that it will keep him healthy and that it has antioxidants in it.
He asks, "Will it give me super powers?" Umm...sort of. It will help your body fight off infections.
To which he responds, "Oh, it'll give my white blood cells super powers so I'll be a super hero!"
Of course it will!