Thursday, February 18, 2010

"That's It! I'm Taking Away the Atlas!!"

Have you ever threatened to take away a book in the heat of disciplining your child? I have. Just last week, I told my son that if he didn’t start behaving at school, I was going to take away his National Geographic Atlas of the World. This was big stuff—he knew I must be serious if I was threatening to withhold his atlas. You probably think I’m joking. I wish. My boy has a passion for books, an unslakeable thirst for knowledge, and an inexplicably accurate and detailed memory.

He’s been reading since he was three. Or, so I’ve told others. He was reading at two, but we as his parents did not acknowledge this fact until he was three. He’s now six and in Kindergarten. Lately, he’s been having trouble keeping his hands to himself when in line at school. I’m not especially concerned about it. He’s not a bully, he’s just often in his own little world that his classmates don’t inhabit with him. He's learning how to cope with it. There are bumps in the road, is all.

He’s quirky…and he’s highly intelligent. Some call him gifted. I just call him Bubba. And right now, Bubba’s on notice that the atlas is gone if another note comes home this week about his behavior. So far, so good—it’s Thursday and he’s been keeping himself in check all week long. We’re almost there!

Being his mom hasn’t been easy. He came equipped with a special kind of challenge because his intellect is so advanced. For example, last year, he taught me the state capitals. I’d not studied them since I was in fifth grade, and here he was in his fifth year of life, teaching me the capitals. He’s a different kind of kid, and as such, my approach with him has been different than my approach with my daughter. Truth be told, from time to time I question that approach.

Books are his buddy, his resource, his go-to place when he’s tired, cranky, frustrated, or scared. The summer that he was three, he would not leave the house without a book. Literally—the boy wouldn’t step off the front porch unless he had a book in his hands. Preferably two, and sometimes even more. He’s cool with stepping out now without the security of a favorite title, but they remain a comfortable place to which he can escape at times.

Bearing that in mind, should I really be threatening to take away something that represents security to him? On the one hand, how cruel! Would you threaten to take a child’s favorite teddy away from them for misbehaving—removing that one thing they cling to for comfort? That’s my squishy side coming out. On the other hand, there’s the part of me that is practically shouting, “He has plenty of books to turn to!! Taking his current favorite out of rotation will not wreck the kid’s psyche!” That’s my hard-ass side.

Hard-ass side wins on this one. And seriously, how hard-ass am I really? He’s got several atlases, this one just happens to be his favorite right now.

Do you have an intellectually gifted child? Am I the only one who has had to resort to removing privileges to a book as a form of discipline? What crazy things have you threatened to take away for misbehavior?

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