First Play Date Rules

I should’ve known my daughter was a rule follower when she had her first play date.

We had just moved to a new neighborhood and there was a little boy her age next door. Soon, my three-year old First Play Datedaughter invited him over for a play date. I have to admit I was more excited than she was. We’d had two major moves in the past two years and she hadn’t made many friends so this was a big day.

The little boy showed up for the play date and was ready for fun. He seemed like an old hand at this. My daughter said “Just a minute,” and ran off. I’m used to this and didn’t think anything of it until she came back with a pad of paper and pen and asked that I write down the rules for the play date.


I’ve since learned that there are parents out there who do have set play date rules and maybe that’s a good thing. But this was our first one so I just said “Be nice.”  That sounded simple enough for any three-year old to comprehend and comply with, right?

Not my kid. I had to write it down on her pad of paper along with what rooms they could go in, and what time the play date would end.

The play date in fact ended early when all she wanted to do was read books to her new friend. And at that time she was very deep into a princess stage. Imagine it – a three-year old boy sitting quietly while a little girl reads all about Ariel’s latest antics to him. That child had a patient temperament that exceeded his years, but come on. I love her more than life and I couldn’t bear one more princess story.

Happily, their friendship survived that awkward first play date and they hang out all the time now. They’re both seven years-old and have learned how to accept each other as they are. He tries to teach her how to pop wheelies on her bike and she tells him all about Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. It works for them.

What’s your experience been with play dates?

The American Girl Doll and a Lesson in Envy

Have you seen your child experience new emotions for the first time? When they’re little and meet Santa for the first time. Maybe you’ve seen it when they start school and they bravely go off to kindergarten. It probably happens when they first get twitterpated but I don’t want to even think about that. The American Girl Doll and a Lesson in Envy

I remember the first time my daughter was consumed by envy.

Her school had a fall carnival and one of the fundraising activities was a raffle for the American Girl doll of the year, Kanani. There were many other items you could choose from but all of my daughter’s friends were mesmerized by the brand new doll. So, my darling girl, who has never played with dolls and returns or donates all Barbie dolls she receives as birthday gifts, had her heart set on that big, blonde doll.

She and her best friend sat with a gaggle of girls about 100 strong waiting to see who the lucky one would be. The head of the PTA called out the winner’s name – her best friend’s name. It was so sweet, they looked at each other screaming and holding hands. They were both so happy! And then my daughter’s screaming changed to sobs as the realization hit that she wasn’t the one who won.

If she had been acting she would’ve won an award for the drama in that transition. Needless to say, we left the carnival very soon after this.

Fast forward nine months.

We Gave In

We were in Chicago for a few days (love that city!) and we passed the American Girl store on our way to the Field Museum. That was all it took for her to jump on the doll bandwagon.American Girl Julie

Now, we’re lucky in that she really doesn’t ask for too many frivolous things. She does have a weak spot for infomercials and saves all those 1-800 phone numbers just in case we ever need a ShamWow or a super-special roto-rooter thingy. But she’s not toy obsessed and she’s really a pretty awesome kid. So, we decided as part of our vacation we’d indulge her with a trip to the center of the American Girl universe and let her pick one out.

Meet Julie. I must say it hurt my feelings a little that doll from the 1970’s is now considered historical. I think I had the exact same outfit when I was in grade school. Yep, I just dated myself.

My girl was beside herself happy. The savvy salesgirl even commented on how much the doll looked like my daughter – which she does. Purchase made we started on a long drive home. Julie made the ride in her box comfortably wedged in the trunk.

Fast forward 24 hours.

Reality Sets In

It was time for bed when my sweet girl asked if she could talk with me in private. Her chin was quivering so I knew it was serious.

“Mom, have you ever wanted something and then when you got it you realized it wasn’t what you really wanted?” And there it was.

Turns out my little girl who can lose herself in books, science experiments, and to be fair, SpongeBob, had no idea of what to do with this doll. She felt terrible about how much it had cost and now she didn’t really want it.

My heart broke a little because I never want my little one to be upset; those heartfelt tears always hurt me to my core. Of course I don’t want her to worry too much about the cost of things (right now) but I do believe in teaching value and it seems that message is getting heard.

But most importantly she learned that following the crowd doesn’t always lead to happiness. Priceless.

Being gifted doesn’t matter when learning tough life lessons.

We asked that she give playing with Julie a shot. So the next day she spent about 30 minutes alone in her room with Julie. When she came out she said she “played” the book with Julie (she came with a story book) and she was done. Julie has remained in her sarcophagus (her box) for the past five months.

Julie’s next appearance will be on eBay in time for Christmas delivery.

Do your kids play with traditional toys?

How to Recognize a Parent of a Gifted Child

Parents learning how to live with a gifted child have a few tell-tale signs. Just like you can usually spot parents of multiples (all those same-size car seats in the minivan are the usual giveaway) there are clues to recognizing these parents.

  • They’re on a first name basis with all the librarians in their lives. I say all librarians because these kids usually have books checked out from the school and the community library.
  • Books are scattered everywhere. Cars, bedrooms, home libraries (yes, I mean the bathroom), dining room table, homework spot, school locker, and stacked near every comfy chair they come across.
  • You know way too much about dinosaurs, Lego robotics, black holes, or whatever the topic of the week is that has captured 99% of your child’s attention.
  • There are no soccer games to attend on the weekends. (Read about our experiences with sports)
  • They know every summer camp, enrichment opportunity, and robot workshop available in a 50 mile radius.
  • When they talk about Hoagies, they don’t mean the sandwich.

But the number one way I’ve found to tell the difference is that the parent of a highly gifted or profoundly gifted child has a unique look of tired terror when discussing their child.

The Tiredness

Having a child on the far right of the bell curve can be exhausting. It’s tiring just keeping up with all of those questions, especially when they’re

gifted children

young. Thank goodness when they’re old enough to Google things themselves.

The Terror

The terror sets in when you realize schools usually don’t have a good game plan for how to effectively educate your child. If you’re like me, you thought that once Kindergarten started everything would be fine. Wrong!

In most cases that’s when the real work of parent advocacy begins – and doesn’t end until you pack them off to college.

Finding ways to keep your child interested and engaged in learning can take up more time than many parents realize. We’ve had to visit libraries and used book stores more than I ever thought possible just to keep a steady supply of reading material available.

But what reading material? What does a seven-year old at a 10th grade reading level read? That’s another blog post – stay tuned.

The Tears

I’ve had the honor to meet with several parents starting on this wonderful, terror-filled journey of raising gifted kids. Almost always the higher the child’s IQ, the less bragging there is, the more questions are asked, and the more tears are shed.

What’s your experience been with parents of gifted kids?