Published on January 18th, 2015 | by Richard Black0
Slaloming Down the Stairs: How My Daughter Went From Gifted to Special in Two Days
Like most parents I like to believe that my child is pretty bright. Sure she can’t blow her nose, an action I imagine most mammals have mastered by the time they’re four, and can’t take off her shirt without an epic struggle that prompts a fit of massive proportions but all things considered she does pretty well.
Case in point. A few weeks ago I was driving Darcy home from school and she asked when her Godsisters could visit.
Before I continue I should clarify the term “Godsisters” for my less than intuitive readers. About four years ago Laura, my wife, was asked to be the Godmother of two of our friends sets of twins. I, for the record, was not asked to be anything other than present at the ceremony and I’m not bitter at all. We’ve known both couples for more than a decade and I’m sure they put quite a lot of thought into their decision which really makes it all the more painful. Thanks a heap for bringing it up.
Instead of referring to these girls as mama’s Goddaughters we call them Darcy’s Godsisters for simplicity’s sake. Now that I think about it we also refer to them as Darcy’s Godsisters and mama’s Goddaughters but never the more self-centric but entirely accurate “daughter’s of the people who were once daddy’s good friends” which is probably for the best.
Back to topic. Darcy wanted both sets of her Godsisters to visit which entailed some logistical complications I attempted to explain to my daughter.
“We have a small house with two bedrooms Darcy,” I said, “It’s not easy to have two people not to mention four of them and their parents in our house.
“They can all sleep in my bed,” Darcy said, neatly solving the problem and prompting me to file the thought away for concern some fifty years from now when I’m dead and have the equanimity to imagine my daughter in bed with four people.
“Both sets of your Godsisters live in different places,” I said attacking the problem from another angle, “Dora and Donna live pretty close to us but Flora and Fauna live pretty far away.”
Darcy took a few seconds to think about the problem and her response almost made me wreck the car.
“Then Dora and Donna should drive really slow and Flora and Fauna should drive really fast.” .
I feel compelled to note that this is a pretty advanced bit of thinking for anyone much less a four year old. Then again my circle of peers might not be all that bright and I tend to be easily impressed with any feat my daughter accomplishes. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t spend the next few days congratulating myself on what an intelligent young girl I’d managed to raise which, in retrospect, was idiotic.
My contributions, as well as my wife’s, towards Darcy’s intellectual capabilities began at conception and, according to a commercial I just saw ended around the time she was three when 85% of her brain was “mature”. I’m not sure exactly what that means or when the other 15% of the brain matures but I’m fairly certain that it doesn’t happen until the mid forties.
Other than having an orgasm and tending to daughter’s nutritional requirements there wasn’t a lot I could do about how bright my daughter is or was or will be. Her brain is, for the lack of a better word, hardware and aside from steering Darcy away from concussions or whipits or other brain busting drugs and bumps my daughter’s intellectual capabilities are set.
This is not to say that there isn’t quite an awful lot that goes into raising a healthy, happy, bright child who takes full advantage of his or her abilities. There most certainly is but taking credit for Darcy’s intellectual aptitude is akin to taking pleasure in the fact that my toaster works well if I had humped my toaster into being and it did, in fact, work well.
The pleasure in my un-accomplishment came to an abrupt end a few days later when I woke to find Darcy on the stairs and prepared to slalom down them head first.
I remember sledding down stairs when I was a bit older than my daughter but they differed markedly from the ones in my current home. The stairs I tobogganed down were carpeted in a deep green shag which limited speed and guaranteed a nasty rug burn in the worst case scenario. The stairs in our current home are made of oak and instead of a straight run to the first floor they dead end in a perfunctory landing and a window Darcy could conceivably launch through if she gained enough velocity.
Fortunately my experience as a father provided me with the ability to handle the situation with the sort of quiet dignity you’ve come to expect.
“Darcy what in the fuck are you doing?” I asked.
“Daddy. I’m playing,” she said with the mix of condescension and innocence that only a four year old can muster.
“You can’t play on the stairs.”
“But I like playing on the stairs,” she said making a fairly compelling counter argument.
“Sweetie you could get hurt,” I said,
“I won’t get hurt Daddy,” she said.
“No one expects to get hurt Darcy,” I said and immediately thought of every caveat to that statement, masochists, professional fighters, accountants “at least not normal people. Can you please, please get off the stairs?” I asked.
Darcy looked at me for a bit, long enough so that I knew she was squaring up the situation at which point I took matter into my own hands.
“Darcy get off those stairs or I’ll set fire to every single my My Little Pony you have,” I said.
“I like fire,” Darcy said nullifying my threat and prompting me to make a note to toss her room for matches and call a child therapist as soon as I got my daughter off the stairs.
“Darcy get off the stairs or I will come over there and grab you,” I said and using the threat of force, the true last resort a parent has when dealing with a small child.
“Fine Daddy,” she said more than a bit petulantly as she pushed her way back up the stairs in reverse.
“You know that Mama and Daddy love you very much and we stop you from doing things like playing on the stairs because we don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Daddy,” Darcy said, “I am not going to get hurt.”
I resisted the urge to bang my head against the wall and realized for the 858th time that small children have the survival instincts of lemmings in heat or whatever it is that lemmings do when they launch themselves en masse into the ocean. Then again for all we know lemmings might have the greatest mental capacity in the world or would if they lived long enough.
The problem is getting them to an age in which they can be self sufficient, children that is, not lemmings. One of the last things I want right now is a superintelligent race of lemmings running around. It’s on my top three list of the worst things that could happen to humanity followed by Carrot Tops’s return to the national prominence and the proliferation of skinny jeans.
Is my daughter bright? Despite her everyday tendency toward self destruction I like to believe so. Time will tell assuming I’m able to redirect Darcy’s inherent need to place herself in harms way into a slightly more productive activity like huffing paint or gymnastics.
You’ll have to excuse me now. I’m hearing some muffled cries from the kitchen and it sounds like my daughter has managed to lock herself inside our dishwasher.