23 Apr 2012

Your Average Child

What if your child is not a prodigy?
What if when comparing with children in her class, she's at the bottom, no. 48 out of 48 students? What if when other parents are boasting of children with special gifts and  talents in writing, dancing, sports, math or etc, and you can't find your child's giftings?
So many what ifs.

Would you try to push your child like crazy in every area till one shows up stronger, as a gift?
Send her for tuition after tuition till she becomes higher than average?
Would you shout at her and hit her till she understands she's at the bottom and needs to work harder?
Would you try to look and look for that special gift, because you cannot accept the fact that she's average?
Would you mock her, insult her because she's average?
Would you love her less?

All this, despite her being your loving child, the caring and obedient one...but who's unfortunately average or at the bottom of her class?

I'm thankful my parents never did that. For years, I was the average child, I thought I was stupid.
In a class full of enthusiastic students who spoke well, wrote well, I was the dumb one. Several times I came back with a report card that showed I was bottom of the class. 48 of 48.

My vocab then was weak, and I spoke with a voice so soft you could hardly hear me. Once, a classmate who spoke fluently asked me confidently "Would you mind if I put my leg on your chair?"   I didn't know what  "mind" meant, and so I replied "Yes, I mind," thinking it meant  No, I don't mind. The girl was offended and said "Oh" and moved away. And I wondered why she moved away.

There were other weak subjects that I didn't care about. For instance, I flunked math till age 11, I sucked at Geography and I used to score C' in art.
My music teacher told me I was her worse student ever in her entire life!!
In secondary, I flunked most of my Physics and Chemistry tests.
I was hopeless in sports and dance coz I hated people watching me move.
I was hopeless at singing and only squeaked.

Now the wonderful part, was that I had great parents. Because my parents loved me, they didn't believe the music teacher and moved me to an understanding teacher. Because they loved me, my dad took time to teach me math. Because they loved me, they understood and accepted me for who I was. They got me lots and lots of books, coz that's what I loved, reading. They didn't bombard me with endless tuition, they didn't expect A's, although they were a little disappointed that I was frequently bottom of the class, 48 out of 48.

 Still, they loved me. Then strangely some things happened.

At age 12, I began passing and then acing my math. By age 16, I was giving math tuition to 15 year olds earning RM50 per hour!
During the SRP (PMR) and SPM exams, I scored  A's in art (and math too!).
In music, just before my grade 8 exam, my British teacher discovered I had perfect pitch and  I'm a music lecturer today!  :)
I may still be an average writer with average scores for grammar, but at least I'm motivated to write and maintain this blog.  :D
When I couldn't sing, now I've sung for countless weddings and occasions, accompanying myself on the piano.
In my college days, together with buddies we directed plays, I acted and sang and danced! *gulp*
I started scoring closer to A's in Physics and Chemistry just before my SPM exam, and began loving these subjects  :). It's like something clicked, and I began to figure it out all in my head without my teacher's help. (talk about late bloomer!)

I took up painting a few years ago even though my secondary teacher said I was hopeless in painting. I'm not fantastic but the latest teacher told me I had much potential. :)

I'm not exceptionally gifted, I'm still your average adult. The only thing is, I no longer think I'm dumb and stupid. I've discovered, through the help of my parents, and self reflection and time, the various gifts that emerged later in life. Some gifts like the gift of music had always been there, it's just that my teacher chose to ignore it coz she believed a pop musician is dumb, only a classical musician is smart. So many more examples  to give, but I'll end here.

(P.S notice, a lot of things happened after the age of 12, actually I discovered most  things and started getting good at stuff only at the age of 19 or so! Way pass primary/secondary schooling age...and I'm still discovering, learning. Perhaps this is a trait of the visual learner, late bloomer.)

Now back to your average child, the one who has undiscovered gifts. What would you do? How would you treat her? I'd say, stop looking for every sign just to discover her gift, as if looking for gold. Stop berating her, stop comparing her.

Start loving her, start understanding her, start accepting her for who she is. For in acceptance, you will allow her to grow and discover herself, that is, When the TIME IS RIGHT. Every flower has it's own time for blossom. Let her blossom at her own time, not yours. And even if it takes forever to discover her strengths, even you can't find a distinct one, love her, darn it, love her. Every child deserves to be loved for who she is, not for what she's achieved.

(FOrgive my grammar and spelling mistakes..I'm your visual, right brained adult who just happened to enjoy blogging. By the way, found this  test titled I'm not stupid, I'm right brained)


marie said...

I think most parents think their kids are genius' not because they are but because they have 'parent blinders' on, which is a good thing. Most of us are average and average is wonderful. I agree with loving and supporting no matter what.

gail said...

I'm glad that you and Marie have met!

Martha, you ARE exceptional in my eyes. Perfect pitch? That is something I could, if it was not a sin, envy you for!

Love you dearly. You teach me constantly.

Divoo said...

this post reminds me of a Chinese Proverb: "There is only one pretty child in this world, and every mother has it."

i can relate with many things that you've written about yourself... i was an average average child and felt that i've no talent... until i discovered that i can write poems. :) and i guess that is what we need to let our kids do: discover! :)

Martha said...

i wish though that most parents would have "parent blinders" on or as Div quoted. But I think reality is, many parents look around and compare..maybe more in this part of the world? and set such high expectations for their children. I guess, it's ok to set high expectations, but problem is they get mad with their children and sometimes hit them, when these children cannot meet their parent's expectations. That's the sad part.

eddiesherene said...

I felt parent really pay an important role.
My childhood was hard.
Mum was always comparing me with my brother, though I know she wanted the best for us, but i was not happy all the time. Did good, did no good, make no difference.
Did good, been said I was just lucky and Did no good, been claimed that its my fault to not pay attention, not work hard enough...etc
You have a supportive parent, that;s very important and tat's why you excel.
I m working hard and learning hardnow, hoping to change and so that my kids will excel from positive support from us as parent. Most importantly, for them to live happily.
Thanks for sharing.


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