When something doesn't fit into your reality, you have a coping mechanism. Some people are open-minded and want to learn about it. Some people block the offending item out of their mind. Other people try to force it to be what they think it should be. And this is where we pick up the story.
This week, I have heard more times than I can count, "Well. I've never seen a 5-year-old act like that." This being said as if the person saying it has had experience with many 5-year-olds in life. The one she had the most experience with was me. Since I am an only child, all my cousins are older, and my mother doesn't have a bunch of friends with kids near my age (then or now), I can't say that she has a wealth of experience to draw upon in this department. While I do not particularly want to get into the details of my childhood, I will say this: aside from looking like me, my daughter is almost nothing like I was at that age. While I was relatively compliant, she is strong-willed and stubborn. While I was happy to go with the flow and learn at an age-appropriate pace (and push myself behind the scenes), she pushes for more information every chance she gets. And when she's bored, look out! While I could read simple picture books, she reads chapter books. While I probably could only do real basic math, she knows a good portion of her multiplication facts.
I have never had my daughter formally tested, but my research and reading tells me that she's probably on the high end of "exceptionally gifted" if not "profoundly gifted". This basically means that her IQ is high. Possibly really high. Having spent a lot of time around smart people -- including The Peanut -- I'm finding that often times when the IQ is high, it's made up for some other way. The brain is just too darn busy to care about social graces and/or the personal comfort of it's human. (Or in more extreme cases, the gifted kid has a learning disability or something cognitive that mucks up the thinking process). Anyways, not having had The Peanut tested, I cannot tell you her IQ nor can I tell you exactly what her other "issues" are in a clinical sense. My mommy sense will describe her tantrums as epic, some of her sensitivities as strange, and her obsessiveness as frustrating. For an outsider looking in -- especially when a tantrum is in full-swing or one of those sensitivities is rearing it's ugly head -- The Peanut probably looks like a strange little character.
Is she really five or is she a two-year-old? Because let's face it, most five years can hold it together a little better than that. Right? And thus has been the mantra of my mother this week. Right along with associated guilt aimed towards me because obviously, since she's acting this way, my earthy-crunchy parenting style has allowed her to turn into his terribly behaved child. Nevermind that this our "normal" and that no shaming, belittling, or yelling at her when she goes into orbit over the latest crisis is going to get her to calm down any faster. In fact, it just adds to the noise. And my headache.
I have less than 36 hours here. I am so very ready to go home. At the same time, I'd like to fix this just a little. My mother will probably never change her reaction entirely, but to somehow help her better understand her granddaughter just a little bit would be huge. She is proud of The Peanut (and encouraging) when she displays the "good" side of being gifted. She thinks the reading and the math and all the other cool stuff she does is great. But to only accept one side of a someone's personality is not accepting the person. And like it or not, our brilliant little Peanut can also be a screaming, irrational little monster of a kid. Some weeks, the little monster stays away. Some weeks -- like this one where we're having a growth spurt and we're away from home with a screwed up schedule - the little monster comes out to play frequently.
I've come to accept and love the little monster side of The Peanut. I've even learned several tricks along the way to help her through the rough patches. If Grandma could get to know her just a little bit, she might actually be able to truly help the next time The Peanut aims herself at the nearest passing satellite instead of helping to launch her into it.