Recently my daughter told me I say “no” too much.

I told her there was a simple solution to her problem: she should ask questions she thinks might have a different answer.


Last year our daughter’s school suggested testing for intelligence. They offered to test her to determine if it would be appropriate to place her in the Gifted Program. Cheryl was all for it. I wasn’t so sure.

How much harm does it do a child to be labeled? Does it matter if the label is good or bad? Is the end result the same? Are expectations placed on someone that may not be appropriate or to the child’s benefit?

Well, Beth was tested and apparently she tests REALLY well. Now she’s in the Gifted Program. In fact she’s gifted among the gifted. Based on her test results her teachers claim to have one explanation for some of her odd behavior. Before, her behavior was a distraction and a cause for concern. Now it’s still a distraction, but rather than a cause for concern it’s just an eccentricity of an intelligent child.

In the meantime, the behavior continues.

We visited her teacher today for a conference before school. Her teacher was concerned, but not about her academics. She was concerned about how she related to the other kids. She is worried her behavior has isolated her from the other kids. They notice she is different and treat her differently, and not in a good way. She’s not making friends. She tries to interact, but she tends to be avoided.

I worry because it fits. I see Beth taking with other kids in church, and I see the same indifference in the other children’s faces. Although Beth sometimes talks about “all of the friends I have,” I see her compensating. She does have a couple friends around the neighborhood. But, I also see her after school… in tears because she wants to go somewhere else where she can make new friends. What do I tell her, that it may not be any different somewhere else? Do I try to tell her she’ll get past it all, even if I know from my own experience it may not be true?

She excels in school academically so they will not help with the behavior. Insurance concedes it’s a real problem but insists that it’s a “long term” problem, making it ineligible for coverage. Lest you scoff in disbelief, let me reassure you this is really the reason for non-coverage. To paraphrase their denial letter… “coverage for therapy shall only be approved if the condition will show significant improvement within the first eight weeks of treatment.” Translation… if it is a short term problem that you probably could have paid for on your own anyway we’ll cover it, if not you’re on your own.

In the meantime the behavior continues.

I don’t feel like a “victim of the system.” I don’t feel an overwhelming sense of entitlement to services we’re not getting. I’m just a frustrated parent who doesn’t have all of the answers. I’m just a saddened parent who can’t always take away my child’s pain.

No Beth, daddy doesn’t know everything. I’m so sorry.

This is a test.

Did you know that doctors will prescribe medication for something other than it’s originally intended purpose? An example is the hypertension drug minoxidil. People taking minoxidil many years ago may have noticed one of the side effects: “… may result in increased hair growth…. ” Doctors later figured out you could smear some on your head… and the rest was history.

Everyone is familiar with the standard reasons for having children: leaving a legacy in this world, extending the species, having a family, enjoying the pitter patter of little feet, and so on. Many parents will tell you that there is another, lesser known reason for having children: namely to test the structural integrity of your home and its furnishings. Parents of the world, who among you is not familiar with the crashing sound of falling objects followed by the “apologetic chorus” (as performed by your offspring)? Refrain: “I’m so sorry, so sorry….”

Five years ago, when we first moved into our new house, I hung my bicycle from the ceiling in our converted garage. I suspected at the time that I might have only grazed the outside of the stud in the ceiling, without hitting it dead center. It seemed solid at the time, so I didn’t think about it any further… until last night.

From the other room… “daddy, your bike fell down.”
Running from the other side of the house “Beth, are you o.k.?”
“I’m sorry daddy.”
“Beth are you o.k.?”
“I’m o.k. daddy.”
“Beth, do you know how the bike fell?”
Suspicious… “Beth, did the bike fall all by itself or did it have some help?”
Sheepishly… “It had some help.”

Always remember the second law of raising children: “any household implement that can be used as gymnasium equipment, WILL be used as gymnasium equipment.”

Bookshelves WILL be used as a step ladder.

Hanging bicycles will be used as a flying trapeze.

It doesn’t matter how well you raise your child, the temptation is there every waking moment spent in the house. No amount of conditioning can defeat that kind of temptation. Please plan accordingly.

And for God’s sake, PLEASE make SURE you hit the center of the stud with your anchors!

Giving joy with the unexpected

I consider it a natural law of the human experience; we tend to find more joy in the unexpected moments than in those that are more routine.

If there is anything that makes me feel like a failure as a parent, it is that neither myself nor my wife has more time to spend with Beth in her school related activities. Both of us work, so we are not often available to strike out with her class on many of their adventures in learning. One day this week I was allowed to make amends. Beth’s class was going to visit “Safety Village” and I was able to tag along. Being the only daddy was some cause for concern. I am loath to draw attention to myself amongst strangers, and nothing draws attention like being unique. The unending chorus of: “ah, it’s so sweet Beth’s daddy could come along,” kept an invisible bullseye on my soul for the whole afternoon.

So there I was, walking into Beth’s classroom one day this week, one of the parent chaperones for the trip. I immediately scanned the room for Beth. I saw her first. She was sitting “in circle,” with her back turned to me. Her teacher was handing out name tags, and each student was dismissed from circle only after they had received their tag. Beth’s turn came and as she turned to leave the circle she faced me. She stopped in mid step, initially somewhat confused to see something that did not belong – me. Suddenly, I saw the memory of our morning conversation appear as a grin creased her face from ear to ear. I cringed a little as she momentarily forgot proper classroom protocol and ran to me for a big hug.

It’s disappointing that I can’t be there for more of her class activities, but it made this morning that much more special.

Can you spell that?

Mommy and Daddy were having a little disagreement. Beth was caught in the middle, sitting at the table trying to do her homework. After this discussion began to wind down and mommy left the room, Beth called out, “mommy, stop being argumentative!”

“What did you say?”, mommy asked incredulously from the other room.

“Argumentative”, Beth responded.

“That’s what I thought you said, I just couldn’t quite believe it. Did you learn that word from daddy?”

It is a parents responsibility to teach their children, but my wife feels that I should be a little more selective in what I teach.