talk about it more

a virtual baby book

When she was two, Fiona regularly said "Talk about it more!" to express her desire to know more about whatever we were discussing.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Anxiety makes me anxious

Yesterday Fiona, Ian, and I went to see a new psychotherapist. We visited someone years ago as well, back when Fiona was playing on a temporary play yard at her daycare center while a new playground was being built. She noticed clouds moving in the sky, except from her perspective it didn't look like the clouds were moving but instead like the building was falling down. Within short order she was anxious enough not to be able to go out into the courtyard at all anymore. Fiona's pediatrician referred us to someone, but our single visit with her was such a poor fit that we never returned.

Fiona's anxiety has continued, however, and has perhaps ratcheted up to some degree within the past six months, so we tried again. We hoped that both Fiona and we ourselves would learn some good strategies. This time the fit is just right, and we're very pleased to feel we've done the right thing for Fiona and for our family. He doesn't anticipate visiting more than a handful of times, and we look forward to gaining some new life tools.

Here is the main idea of what we've gleaned thus far. Children fall into a curve of intelligence, and kids at either end of the spectrum may end up with some amount of anxiety. The therapist inquired about Fiona's IQ, and while we haven't had her tested, we told him about our experience with the kindergarten readiness test. Then he did another short test with her in the office yesterday. He was inclined, with the facts available, to agree with the St. Jude school faculty.

Bottom line: Fiona is bright. She notices things that some kids her age might not notice, but her almost-five-year-old brain can't logically rationalize them, which gives her worry. To some degree, her beloved baby sister Nora probably also unwittingly exacerbates the anxiety with her every-present roly-poly toddler cuteness. People tend to notice Nora first, and sometimes Nora only. And while situation is certainly not unique to Fiona, it doesn't make it affect her any less.

Now at our house, we are of the firm belief that every child is gifted, and it is the happy quest of each parent (and child) to both discover where those gifts lie and to fully appreciate them. And while I'm glad to have better insight as to where the anxiety probably comes from, I'm also a little upset to hear a nebulous term like “gifted” being mentioned so often or so lightly. Keeping in mind that no one has actually labeled Fiona at this point (exhale), who decides who's “gifted”, and what exactly does that mean? And what happens next? And how do I feel about it? What's the best school for a gifted child? For our child? Is home the best school? Would spending some time away from Nora on her own turf be a better choice for her? But what could be better than following her own pace and interests at home?

It's time for more reading, talking, and thinking at our house. I don't think Fiona is the only anxious one around here.


At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Lynn said...

Jen, I was totally that kid growing up. I was fortunate to spend my K-4 years in southern Vermont, where progressives from New York and Boston brought their ideas about education with them when they moved to the country, and thus had an unusually rich school experience. It caught up with me, though, when we moved and because 5th grade was so ordinary, I understood for the first time that I was gifted.

If you're looking for any insight from a parenting perspective, I'd be happy to connect you with my mom. Among her many other awesome qualities, she was a vocal and persistent advocate for me as I progressed through school. And I'm always happy to talk about it from a gifted kid perspective.


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