Iz Gets Savvy

Iz's comments are starting to waffle between the innocently precocious, (e.g., "Mommy, don't sigh! I am SERIOUS!") and the calculatedly so (e.g., "I really should have used more pronouns in that sentence."). She knows she's smart, and she isn't afraid to broadcast it.

Her showing off is eye-narrowingly irritating to me, on a purely reflexive level. But she'll never know, because intellectually I think she has every right to be smug about her nimble little brain and its amazing innards, and in front of her, I pretend I am that same kind of smarts-proud person. My role-playing takes a herculean effort, because I am still struggling with the awful cultural ingraining that girls should be deferential, and should downplay their many skills and gifts.

I keep telling her that I know things because "I'm really smart," about my considerable education, and how good I am at the things I know how to do. On the flipside, I will concede frankly when I do not know something--but will tell her that I know how to find out, or that we know someone who can tell us about it. No shame in not knowing something--lots of shame in posturing that you do (unless of course one's fate depends upon the bluff).

I also stress how intelligently valuable all her friends' moms are. "Ep knows how to make web sites! Jo has written two books! Badger is finishing up her thesis, and it's all about translations from Spanish! JM has a PhD--do you know how long and hard she had to work to get that?" I cannot bear the thought of her taking all these incredible women for granted, for viewing them solely as the drivers and grocery-shoppers and party-givers that I thought I grew up around.

I also make sure to take compliments well in front of her. This is the real nail-puller. Try giving me a compliment when Iz isn't around. Just TRY.

Not a one of these things--except praising my friends--is easy for me. Being confident doesn't come naturally, but I will do what it takes to appear that way because my daughter does not need a self-deprecating intellectual doormat as a role model. And neither do any of your daughters.

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