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I did a bad thing. I Googled.
Annika is due for her 12 month appointment in a few days and she’s been speaking a couple of words (and rapidly picking up more it seems). I know that’s pretty normal, but I wanted to find out how many words other kids are speaking at that age and whether or not she was “advanced” for her age.
First of all because I should not be comparing. Secondly because “advanced” or “gifted” children aren’t “better” than any other kid. Thirdly because anytime I Google anything about parenting I always end up feeling guilty. And if you follow my writing at all you know my number one thing I cannot stand is Mom Guilt.
So no, Annika is not “gifted.” At least not compared to the other kids whose Moms claim they are speaking full sentences at a year and writing at two years. (Actually, ironically, my husband started writing really early, at around 3 years of age, but he didn’t speak until almost then either!) Nope, Annika is perfectly developmentally normal.
The one thing I’ve learned as a physician who sees lots of children is that every kid has their own uniqueness. Every child has something that makes them so unequivocally them. It is such a privilege as a physician to see children grow up and be nourished in what makes them individuals. It is so exciting to see their gifts and talents exercised in this world.
Some kids have great math skills, or reading abilities, or are awesome spellers. But for most it is something that cannot be measured on any standardized test. I’ve seen brilliant, witty, hilarious kids who are on a mission to light up whatever room they are in. I’ve seen some who take such great pleasure in reading – they share that passion with their parents or their friends. Some kids just LOVE sports and you can see them glow when they throw that baseball.
For a lot of children it is so subtle. Annika is a really sensitive kid – she gets big crocodile tears whenever another child cries, even across the room (and even when the other kid is faking!). I cannot wait to see how this sensitivity will be used to benefit others. She already wants to share her stiff, sucked-on crab puppet (her favorite lovey) with everyone. Maybe it is her way of making us feel better?
But that sensitivity IS her gift. She is the balance to the insensitive world.
What is your child’s gift? How can you nourish it?