I have been asking myself a lot lately whether Eli is precocious or possibly gifted. Apparently, I am one of the last people who knows Eli to actually admit that he is possibly gifted in an intellectual sense. I'm not sure it matters, except that I don't want him to be bored when he actually starts school. Please don't assume this is simply a mommy brag (even though I am very proud of my son for many reasons). I have been hearing a lot of negative comments, and simply get very weary sometimes of hearing them. I have been hearing a lot of comments like "He's smart because he is Asian," " Oh, he is smart because you guys are teachers," or, my personal fav, " You guys should stop pushing him and let him be a kid." Because of this, and although I am writing about it tonight, I rarely talk about Eli's successes to anyone other than immediate family or Eli's teachers.
Some people have NO idea. All of the above comments drive me batty. For one, we are not pushing him. Eli has a fair amount of patience and attentiveness, but he IS A TODDLER. Meaning, he WILL NOT do what he does not want to do. How hard is it to keep a toddler sitting still - for ANYTHING? Okay, Eli will sit very still for a long time (15 minutes or more) if food is involved...or glue (he likes to glue things together)...or if he is involved in anything he thinks he is not allowed to do. He is very self-directed, and decided on his own about several months ago that he wanted to learn to read. If you remember from previous posts, we only introduced him to words he asked about. I do humor him, and help him for a few minutes at a time when we have a chance, but we don't work on reading nearly as much as Eli would prefer. Honestly? Until August, we didn't even work on reading on a even on a weekly basis. Meaning that, some weeks, we didn't even read to our son. Oohh...hurts as a teacher to admit that particular parenting fail. Now, he's obssessed with the library, and I find myself reading more and more with him. I have to set time limits on things like iPad apps that teach reading (and, honestly, I also have to set limits on FruitNinja), shows like "Super Why" and the number of times he is allowed to count everything in sight. Actually, most of his reading comes in fits and starts, and can be alarming. One such example is when a happy oma is driving down the road and hears "STOP!!" shouted from the backseat. After a VERY quick application of the brakes, it is not as funny as you'd think to realize that your child was reading a stop sign...especially when you turn to ask him what's wrong, and he replies very calmly (and sweetly), "S-T-O-P spells stop. There stop sign. See Oma? It's right there." I now know every stop sign in the tri-county area. It's self-defense against future panic attacks.
Here's more of an update, and less of a rant:
Eli is two and a half on Friday. He knows and recognizes his upper and lower case letters in any context. He is trying to write letters....even though his little hand can usually only manage o, i, c, l, and E, with the occasional A or M thrown in. He knows many letter sounds and some blends. We are not always sure which ones he knows because he frequently surprises us with sounds and blends we did not know that he'd figured out. He is reading many words that he has memorized (20+) and loves to spell familiar words. He loves rhyming words, and is picking up on word families and is becoming quite good at sounding out many words. Today, he began reading entire (very simple) sentences from a beginning reader that his Grandpa had ordered for him to look at. As in, he picked up the book, read several words with no help, then asked for help with the word "seal." It is humbling to listen to your two year old read "I am a seal." "I see no man." etc.
And counting? When Eli is in the mood, he can count independently quite high...sometimes eighteen or twenty, sometimes higher, as the mood strikes him. People sometimes think he learned to count from me, since I am a math teacher...um, nope - he learned the same way I did....too much Sesame Street.
Conversation? Eli can talk the ears off corn. So much for the possible language delays that our first pediatrician worried about when he came home. And while much of his speech is still broken (like a toddler's usually is), and sometimes difficult to understand, he can be very sophisticated with his language, too. While many children his age are putting together two and three words, Eli is frequently using sentences with several adjectives, and tends to speak in five or more word sentences when he really gets going (though he still rarely uses the word "the" and often, though not always, refers to himself as "Eli" instead of "I"). Sentences we hear are like "I want to watch Monsters movie on big TV with Grandma, Grandpa, Oma, and Appa. Eli can get popcorn and a lot candy, too!" Or, my new favorite quote when I picked Eli up from school the other day "I had time out, um I hit Sevin, aaaannnnndddd I had aminal cookie and juice at school. Orange juice" I love how he slips in the animal cookie bit with the admission that he'd gotten in trouble for whacking his buddy...Nice. Oh, and he does say aminal instead of animal ; ). Not actually a mis-spelling, just wanted to spell it like he says it!
Eli has his share of favorite things to do, too. Any plant or animal is interesting to him. He could watch wildlife shows on TV all day, every day. He is a "Call of the Wildman" addict and has a special fascination with aquatic animals. I will never mistake a manta ray for a sting ray again, or for that matter, an sea anemone for a sea urchin while Eli is around ; ). He like to look through his toy animals (of which he has collected quite a few) and play with the whale shark, beluga whale, otters, sea turtle, etc. We are currently arguing about whether one particular animal is called an "elephant" or a "Horton", but I am sure we will get it settled at some point, lol. He dearly loves an iPad app that allows you to take care of animals in a veterinary hospital...the app mostly has him cleaning their teeth and ears, but he is so proud to "help" them : ).
Eli is also loving trains, trucks, planes, etc. He is loving shoes and hats (like wearing a fireman's hat or construction hat to pretend). He still adores riding both his bike and his horsie (Reno). We are going to let him show Reno (who is an actual horse, for those of you who really don't know us) at a saddle club show this fall.
Finally, Eli is loving music. He adores trying to play Appa's trumpet, Oma's baritone or French horn, or Grandpa's trombone. He knows how to produce sound on brass instruments by buzzing his lips and is learning how to change notes/pitch. He has learned how to play piano with his fingers instead of the palms of hands, and loves his toy piano (it "talks" to an iPad app and allows him to play music games using the toy piano as the controller). I finally got out my trumpet from my high school band days and gave it to him. While he is not allowed to get it out without help, he adores "playing" any chance he can get. While the sounds he makes mostly sound like noises produced by a very sick cow (hehe), he tries so hard to match the notes we play that he improves noticeably each time he tries.
I am soooo gonna record him "playing" soon...we need this on video!
I guess that's all for now. We ALL remain VERY, VERY excited for Eli's cousin, Emma, to be born soon. He now asks us about Emma every day, and likes to point out toys or baby clothes that he thinks Emma might like ; ). We wish we could be there with Eli's aunt and uncle, but they are a long way away. At least we have phones and F@cetime!