Gigi’s middle school is within walking distance of our home. On the first day of sixth grade, she and her friend Shelby met at our house. We measured them on the door (of course) and took pictures. When it was time to hit the road, Shelby’s father Eric said, “Okay girls! From here on out, it’s all about getting into Harvard!” I happened to snap the pic above at the moment Eric said those words. Priceless.
Gigi is a high performing kid. It’s weird when you figure that out. I’m not sure exactly how old she was, but she couldn’t talk yet. Under a year, for sure. I would ask her, “Where’s my nose?” and she would touch it. She could find all my facial features. Once, when she was around two, we were driving somewhere, and she said, “Stop.” I looked back, alarmed, and she was pointing to a stop sign. “Stop.” I knew she wasn’t reading, but she could definitely decode small words.
I liken it to having a kid who’s a great athlete or a gifted musician. She could just figure stuff out. My husband and I decided we had to embrace it as if it were some sort of athletic or music ability. We encouraged her to own it and be proud of it and not shrink away from being the smart one. We made sure her academic achievements received the same celebrations as a kid who wins a big championship – family dinners, special dessert, lots of pictures.
The reaction from some parents has been surprising. There are those who immediately put their own kid down. They’ll say something like, “Well, Susan is no genius. She’ll never get all As. We’ll be lucky if she gets into KSU.” That one freaks me out. Then there are others who are defensive. “Well, it really doesn’t matter where you go to college. I didn’t go to an Ivy League school, and I’m fine.”
The lesson I’ve learned from all of this is, just be happy for people. If someone has worked really hard for something for many years, celebrate their effort and congratulate their success. Give them their moment. Even if it’s something they can do and you can’t. Did you finally bake a homemade pie without burning the crust? Well done! Your son just got a huge scholarship and you won’t have to pay a dime for college? That’s amazing! You finally got your cat to use the litterbox? Excellent! My opinion means nothing in these situations. It’s their big moment. Let them have it.
The funny thing is, Harvard isn’t even on Gigi’s list. “Too pretentious.”