Posted by Duff

dervish_higherlearning.jpg higher learning picture by duffoliver

I fell prey to the Competitive Grandma this morning.

Her granddaughter used to go to daycare with The Dervish. “How is A?” I asked. I was being polite. The girls were too young to really interact at the time, and I had only seen A a handful of times. She was sweet and quiet, smiled a lot.

“A is fantastic,” doted CG. “She never stops talking and knows all of her ABCs.”

Here we go. A is a few months younger than The Dervish, and The Dervish is not so into her ABCs at this juncture. She’s more into catapulting herself into the universe, which last I checked, isn’t yet an Olympic sport.

Now, maybe A is, in fact, a wunderkind. I certainly hope so. The world could use more like her. But since I know her mother is an early childhood educator, I said something that probably made me sound bitter (I didn’t think I was?): “That’s wonderful! It’s great to have a mom in the biz!”

I thought I was cheerful about it, but I walked away thinking that maybe I should be singing the ABC song more. Or stocking up on flashcards. Anything to help The Dervish keep up with the A’s, so to speak. A’s mom is also nine months pregnant. So she must be tired. And uncomfortable. With a lot on her mind. What’s my excuse?

By the time I finished my drive to work (knucklehead that I am, I’d forgotten my purse and had to drive home to get it. A’s mom was probably reading Tolstoy during my two steps back), I’d given myself a cartoon head shake (ai-yiii-yi). Enough already. Snap out of it. This is not even close to the beginning of Adventures in Comparing and Contrasting Our Children. She’s fine.

It was a reminder to me that when someone asks how The Dervish is doing, “She’s fine, keeping me busy!” is a perfectly acceptable (and most likely appreciated) answer. No mom wants to feel like their kid might not be there yet, when others are. As if there was the ideal place to be. As if walking early means a future pro athlete. Or ABCs pre-two means the ticket to success is already written. In crayon.

I didn’t worry so much about her physical milestones. Even though she was later than average with several of them, she more than made up for it with enthusiasm and motivation. I knew she’d get there. So I don’t know why a mention of pre-preschool academia was such a shot to the gut.

I had to take a very deep breath and figure out my motivation on this one.

Call me crazy, but I don’t want The Dervish to be The Best. I hope she will be the best of her. I would so much rather she were The Happiest. That title seems to be far more sought after, and far more elusive. I want to make sure I remember I feel this way before I get caught up in the system and take her along for the ride. She knows what she’s doing.

Lately, she walks down the stairs, and I encourage her to count her steps. It goes something like this:

(There is no ‘one’. Her world starts with ‘two.’) “Two. Three. Five. Sic. Seben. Eight. Ten. Eighteen. Go.”

I don’t know where she learned “Eighteen”. I’m assuming it came from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. And I’m okay with that.

Yesterday, I taught The Dervish ‘Cheers’. I tapped her sippy to my glass, we wished each other well, and drank. Water. Both of us. The first time, she nearly shattered my glass with excitement. By the third try, she had it down pat and recalled the sequence later in the evening. Definitely a skill she’ll need for college.

Maybe she won’t be Ivy League material. (I wasn’t — who am I to set such expectations?) But one day, she might be able to undo anyone with her charm.

I, for one, am already disarmed.