Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The 90th Percentile

As I have discussed before, Z was in the 90th percentile for height and weight from birth.

She has maintained that ranking throughout her life.

In her school, she stands out as being in the top of her class. She knows her letters, her numbers, and can identify them. She understands the correlation between numbers and counting objects. She recognizes all of the shapes and colors. She can spin elaborate stories and articulate the scariness, the surprise or sadness in the stories that she weaves.

At her 3 year well child appointment, the doctor commented that she has the verbal and cognitive skills of a 6 year old and the impulse control of a 3 year old. According to the milestone guidelines put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics, she is surpassing a lot of the milestones that teachers and parents should watch for in their kindergartners.

I am not bragging, I'm just telling you about my kid.

I was a highly imaginative child and was always in the 90th percentile myself. In kindergarten and first grade, it was cool and fun to be taller than the boys, awesome to answer a question first or to be the star student.

But somewhere in my life, it wasn't cool or fun to be smart or tall. It wasn't good to be different, to stick out from the crowd. I hid my glasses, I sat in the back of classes so people wouldn't think that I was the smart girl (although without glasses and sitting as far from the board as I could get, I couldn't see anything!). I wanted so desperately to be "normal", to be "cool" that I often walked with knees slightly bent, shoulders slightly curled in to give the appearance of being smaller than I was.

I remember hiding my standardized test scores from classmates, claiming that I had scored equal to them when in reality I was in the top 10% in the state. I lied about my score on the SAT by 400 points because the boy I like had scored that much lower than I had (and he was the valedictorian of my class).

Somewhere along the way, the 90th percentile wasn't good enough.

Why do we allow culture, peer pressure, ideas of normalcy influence us to not feel good about our accomplishments?

It breaks my heart that my funny, charming, endearing, gigantic girl will one day try to hide her light, her intelligence, her beauty, her personality because of societal pressures. My one and only hope is that I am raising her to exude self-confidence, to know that she rocks, that it's great to be smart and charismatic, that it's awesome to share her faith in a dark world, and to lead the sisterhood of girls that will invariably follow her to not accept normal.

Because normal is so much less than what she is.


  1. Oh I am so sorry that you could not feel proud of your accomplishments. You can definitely change that with Z. I love strong accomplished women, and I believe that we should be able to be ourselves. I always thought that women were smarter....but I am probably just a little biased. ;)

  2. Oh I love that last line of yours. I feel the exact same way about my daughter--that I want to raise her with confidence and assurance that she is wonderful just the way she is. This is a great post!


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