My kid will be going into kindergarten in the fall. He can’t read yet, but he knows all his numbers and letters and the sounds the letters make and all kinds of things. He recognizes symbols and can write his letters and numbers as well as you’d expect a little kid to be able to. I’m cool with that. I know that he hasn’t seen the true imperative need to be able to read for himself yet and that he loves to be read to, partially because it’s easy to be read to and requires only asking, and partially because it’s comforting to sit on or near people you love and have them unlock a story for you. It’s a gift from them to you and he loves the closeness. A long book being read to you can also prolong the bedtime ritual and if there’s anything he hates, it’s bedtime. Did I mention that he’s a smart kid?
He’s also a kid who has two homes, four parental figures, and multiple grandparent figures, uncles, aunts, cousins, and all his parental figures’ friends, and we are all connected and not-connected in very specific ways. He can keep us all straight in his mind, two whole families and friend groups, and he knows how to relate to all of us in ways that make sense.
This is a child whose emotional maturity is vastly beyond that of his peers in some ways. This is a child whose ability to blend into and absorb human situations is advanced. Yes, he has to be reminded at times to imagine himself in someone else’s shoes, and no, he doesn’t have all the answers or always act appropriately for a situation, but he’s thoughtful, he asks hard questions, and he’s emotionally expressive.
As far as I’m concerned, I don’t need to compare him to other children. He might not know all his states and capitols yet, and he might not quite be able to read yet, but he’s brilliant with other people, he’s great at physical activities, I can tell that he’s on his way to accomplishing those classroom milestones and that he’s fine and happy. I’m not going to rush him or put pressure on him because there’s just no need.
With two different households come two different paths. In our house, we read and play word games, we play board games, we do puzzles, we talk about strategy and social situations, we do science experiments and art, we cook, we play and explore outside, and we play inside with computers. We read all kinds of books, at least one bilingual (Spanish) book a week, and we play with numbers. I don’t know all the things that he does at his dad’s house, but I assume they do some things similarly to us.
I learned to read earlier than my kid has, but he’s much better with other people than I ever was, and he’s much more kinetically intelligent than I was at that age as well. We all have different intelligences and I am very thankful that he’s not exactly like me. I’m enjoying the journey with him. I love unlocking the doors for him, and helping him see how to walk through them. I love building scaffolds for him and helping him understand things. I love the way he sees the world and I am proud of him for being who he is as he is, right now. He is just as he ought to be.