Fear and shame

16 Jun


I have a fear, and it’s something I’m not proud of.  In fact, I am not sure I should even be talking about it here on the blog, or anywhere on the internet… but I’ve always been open here, and I’m just not sure where else to share something like this.

I have a horrible fear, one that explains all the worrying I do about Evi being a late crawler, walker, or talker.  For reasons I’m not sure I can name, let alone understand, I am terrified that Evi won’t be smart.

I’m an awful person, right?  The thing is, I already know she’s healthy and happy, which are my biggest concerns.  I know she is loved, safe, and joyous.  But right or wrong, I really want her to be smart.  I don’t need her to be a genius, but I so badly want her to be above average, more than capable… (here comes the bad bad part)… like I was.

It’s unforgivably arrogant, isn’t it?  I was always so proud to be smart, to be reading early, ahead of my classmates in my academic pursuits, to be chosen for gifted and talented programs… and I want the same for my daughter.  Is that wrong?

Today, as I sat in the floor with her looking at animal flashcards and lamenting my general ignorance when it comes to educating a toddler, I realized how much it scares me to think she might not be a smart kid.  Is it all up to me?  Is it my job to make her smart?  If it is, am I doing everything I can?  If it’s not, are there things I can do to help?

I should clarify here that I see a huge difference between smart and intelligent.  Intelligence is not easily measured, and is something everyone has in different ways.  Intelligence is about how you solve problems and how you see the world, and a lot of it is based on experience… I think.  Smart is… smart is good grades?  Smart is reading early?  Smart is a head for numbers or letters or science?

I swear, sometimes I feel like I am completely unprepared to be a mother, and I worry that I come off like a totally neurotic, completely ridiculous person in these posts.  I swear I don’t spend my days wringing my hands about my daughter’s future grades.  It’s just something that weighs on my mind, in the background while we play and laugh and cook together.  So tell me… is this normal?  Should I be worried?  And most importantly, what should I be doing to help her?  What are the best possible ways to ensure my daughter has the best education she can from me right now?


More from me:

Getting through the tough days: eight tips to stay on track



6 Responses to “Fear and shame”

  1. JourneyBeyondSurvival June 16, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    Just read to her. Even if she isn’t above average, discipline and reading will get her a long way. That and family dinners at the dinner table where intelligent conversation is held. Really. There’s a whole lot of research backing me up. 🙂 Betcha you’re already doing those huh? She’ll be in those advanced classes even if she’s not technically brilliant.

    one who knows from personal experience

    P.S. I did worry like this over miss THANG.

  2. Bex June 16, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    I don’t think it is wrong for you to want Evi to be smart. It’s because you love her and you want her to have and realize her potential. If she ends up not doing ridiculously well in school and you get angry and resentful and all that when it happens and make her feel dumb, then there is a problem. But I am about 155% sure that you would never in a million years do that because she is your little girl and you love her no matter what.

    This post was amazingly honest and I would like to point out that I was just struck by what you said. Intelligent and “smart” are different. And smart (getting good grades and excelling at school) has A LOT to do with what you are doing right now. You talk to her and show her things and try to make sure she’s learning and having an active brain. As long as you are doing that in any capacity, I think she’ll be alright and you’ll enhance it.

    I don’t know if this will help, but if it calms your fears any, honestly I want you to think of me. (haha, as self-boosting as this is…) Certainly no one tried to teach me anything, I didn’t talk until I was something like 4 or 5 (then I stuttered like a mofo until I was older), and I graduated from high school with a 4.34 on a 4.0 scale. It’s going to be ok. I don’t think you can mess up her smartness. Plus she’s got some hella good genes! (Yes, I just employed the term “hella.”) 😉

  3. Groupie for the Underdog June 16, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    I don’t think it’s neurotic to think this way and I’m sure other mothers have shared the same thoughts, and not just high-achieving ones who think highly of education.

    As it is, you have already touched upon the point that smart and intelligent are two different things.

    It might be easy for me to say but some of the brightest, talented people aren’t academic at all.

    I definitely am not, though I am bookish, well-read and creative.

    I have a feeling Evi is going to continue to wow you, and the stimulation you give her as she grows will count for most things.

  4. Barbara June 16, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    Don’t be afraid or ashamed for wanting good things for Evi!

    Just keep doing what you’re doing, talk to her, read to her, show her things, do experiments, jump in puddles, collect leaves, pique her curiosity.

    And I’ll be most smart parents worry about exactly the same thing!


  5. a June 16, 2010 at 12:26 pm #

    I swing between worrying about wanting my girl to be smart (because school is soooo much easier AND you don’t have to play popularity games) and wanting my girl to have lots of good friends. The distressing part for me is that my daughter is SO much like her father…who is very smart but was never willing to put any effort into school. I know that she’ll lose interest in things, and stubbbornly refuse to learn them and then regret it later. But, I still have hope that she’ll pick up my (former) ability to listen and learn while still entertaining herself by doodling/talking to others/thinking about fun stuff/reading. Then I worry that she won’t think I love her for who she is if I’m continually harrassing her about school. Sigh…motherhood = guilt + worry


  1. Getting through the tough days « Skinny Sushi - June 16, 2010

    […] Fear and shame: worrying about raising a smart kid […]

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