Put a Bib on It

Why I Don’t Want an Exceptional Child


My husband’s coworker’s daughter who is my daughter’s age and signs for “more cheese” at the dinner table.

My friend’s grandchild who was crawling at five months.

All of the babies of the mamas I’ve befriended in the past year with six teeth at six months, with strings of consonants on their tongues, who clap, who blow kisses, who pull up and cruise and file the taxes, too.

The pressure to have an "exceptional" child is very real for some parents. How do you cope?

I’ve written before about my firm belief that meeting developmental milestones isn’t a race, but it bears repeating. At the very least, I need to hear it again. The pressure to have an exceptional child is one I feel like I counter daily, and not just when I regret I haven’t anything to boast. I hear it in my husband’s voice when he says, “She hasn’t done anything new lately.” I feel it in my disappointment when she begins scooting forward and, flushed with excitement, I tell a good friend who is a parent of two and have confirmed for me that it’s not really crawling. And the worst part is, I feel a little less excited about it. Worst mama ever, that’s me.

I have to be honest and admit that I think part of my frustration is the feeling that we’re doing so many things right (which is not to say that anybody else is doing anything wrong, but “right” in terms of the choices we made for how we want to parent). My husband and I read to Miss E every day. She doesn’t watch television. We let her play freely on the floor and hardly ever with anything that has batteries. When we’re out, I almost always wear her and I try to keep her out of most containment devices that aren’t her car seat.

But she’s not an early talker. Her gross motor skills are mostly in-line with what’s appropriate for her age. She doesn’t sleep through the night, and she certainly hasn’t figured out how to design formulas in Excel. We think she’s practically perfect in every way, so why do I get a little jolt of jealousy and anxiety when I’m reminded of the things she doesn’t yet do?

I don’t know.

Whatever my problem is, I know at least that it’s mine, and not my daughter’s. The first part of getting help is admitting you have a problem, right? So I’m going to look to my cooing, hooting, scooting girl who’s anything but average. Because really, I have an exceptional child. There’s no other baby quite like her, and I wouldn’t want her any other way.

Author: Jillian Kuhlmann

Mama. Nerd. Writer.

8 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Want an Exceptional Child

  1. My sister didn’t say actual words for a long time, and then one day brought my dad a pickle jar and said “I can’t open it.” Sometimes quietness just means that when the words do come, they’ll be that much more important. 🙂

  2. I feel the same way. Whenever I hear that other people’s children are crawling and pulling up or even walking, I do get a little green with envy. And, it’s extraordinarily hard to not compare. It really is true that every child is different, and learns at their own rates and does things on their own time, we just have to be patient and be there to celebrate in their moments.

  3. Here here. My mother (who is odd), keeps going “oh isn’t he advanced?”, “Did the others ( in mums group) notice how advanced he is?”
    No. I don’t want him to be.
    I remember the pressure all of her “oh you’re so bright” put on me, and I don’t want that for him. I want him to run his own race.

  4. Your baby makes for interesting, honest, discussion-provoking blog posts. I personally think that’s way more important than signing “more cheese.”

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