text: amber bird
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Not Ashamed: Precocious

If you haven't already, please read the introduction post. That will give you context for this page.

I was able to read at a bit of an early age. And one of the things that often happens to kids who read above their expected level is that their ability to read outstrips their vocabulary. Now, fortunately, I was able to figure out a lot of things from context. I quickly extended that skill to being able to figure what word likely meant when spoken, not just when printed.

I used big words earlier than expected. I developed big thoughts earlier, and I was too young to know to keep my mouth shut (whether it was to protect someone's pride or spare them a hard truth).

So, little person...big thoughts without the usual, learned filters and social niceties...

I heard the word "precocious" a lot. And I wasn't really sure what it meant, but the tone and context let me know that it was a bad thing to be. And I was so used to working from context (and sort of loathing finding out what this horrible, shameful thing was that I was) that I didn't bother to look the word up. I was going to just feel ashamed and try to figure out which thing I was doing that was "precocious" so that I could stop it. I could at least be smart enough to figure it out from context; that should balance out my shame, right? (Yeah, I know, pat wee-me on the head.)

Just in case you have somehow never heard the word before, I'm just going to copy in a definition for you:

precocious (adj.) unusually advanced or mature in development, especially mental development (example: a precocious child)

Right. Do I even need to explain why I'm not at all ashamed of that label? If anything, I'm a bit ashamed that, in this adult world, I am certainly anything but precocious.

And what I really want to say here is this: Yeah, a kid whose brainpower is ahead of their social skills (aka doesn't know when not to speak smart truths that might upset adults) can be more difficult than your kid whose brain is like you'd expect. But don't you ever shame them for that, not even just by saying "precocious" in a negative tone. Intelligence is a brilliant resource. You just help them develop the social skills or the sense to equal that brainpower.

No worries, precocious kids. That brain could serve you well.