Nature or Nurture

I have clever children, there I have said it.  I have got rid of the elephant in the room.  They are very bright and intelligent (gifted and talented they call them at school, but that term just doesn’t sit well with me, as all children are talented in someway).  But before I go on about their amazing abilities, let me tell you a story:

I use to feel inferior as a mum, both the boys were late walkers and never even crawled.  I used to compare maxi to his peers in my NCT antenatal group when we lived in Berkshire.  I used to come home and cry and feel inferior as he wasn’t meeting his milestones as the other children were.  I was a bad mummy, I didn’t “do” tummy time or structured play activities.  I would much rather enjoy a baby massage with him or sing and dance.  I didn’t have the right parenting books, I was not allowing him to be the best he could.
Then things got much worse, Maxi became unwell and I became pregnant and the thought of going to signing tots or music with mummy, just didn’t appeal to me anymore, so we played at home, I took him swimming once a week at least and we would go to a little music group which had only just started up down the road.  We looked at moving back to the North East so that I didn’t have to go back to work.
All the other children in the group were walking, eating well and sleeping.  I couldn’t compete.  Maxi eventually walked at 15 months 2 days before mini was born.

When mini was born, we went out for lots of walks and played in the park, I continued to take both the boys swimming at least once a week and we sang lots of songs and always chatted during the day.  We had fun.  I didn’t worry about tummy time with mini, I didn’t feel I had to do things any other way that our way.  I was free of the competitive nature of mothers with children the same age, as I never went to an antenatal class I didn’t have anyone to compare him too.  So when he didn’t walk till 17 months old I wasn’t worried and when he started mimicking words at 7 months old I thought nothing of it.
I just loved the boys and wanted them to be happy.  Fast forward to last weeks parents evening.  

Both boys are exceptionally clever it seems, Mini can read, count to over 100, do single figure additions and has a passion for music.  He sometimes struggles with his new found temper, but he is amazing.  He makes friends really easily and chatters away to all and sundry with great inter-personal skills.
Maxi is whizzing ahead.  He is doing mathematics from year 2 and will be moving on to year 3 after half term.  He can do multiplication, understands and works in thousands, hundreds, tens and units.  He loves helping the other children with their math work, explaining it to them in an easily understandable way.
He is top of the class for phonics and writing.  His investigative skills are growing day by day and he has a love and understanding of basic science principals way above his years.
But even though he has all this ability, he is not smug, in fact he is the opposite he revels in his friends getting star of the day or one off awards, he doesn’t crave recognition in any way at school and is a joy to teach.
He is kind and considerate and as much at home playing tig and starwars in the playground as he is in a small group telling a story.  He is 5 in March.  He is amazing and fills me with joy and fear in equal measure.

The question I am always asked is what am I doing to help the boys, what work do I do with them, as they don’t want their children to miss out.
But the thing is, I have never hot housed the boys, we don’t do flash cards or sums and exercises at home.  I don’t make them read to me if they don’t want to.  I don’t force them to do homework.  I have never made them recite numbers or the alphabet to me.

But, we do have magnetic numbers and letters on the fridge, we sing songs, we make things, we talk all the time, our books are all on display and within easy reach, we visit the library, we still go swimming, we laugh, dance, create, we go on the PC, spend time on the wii, live and love.

I am not a great believer in after-school activities, both boys come home and the first thing after a snack is play outside, go to the park or go out on their scooters.  I don’t feel the need to limit screen time, our only rule there is that there is none after 6pm and both boys have a leapster.
So the thing is they are just the way they are, the thirst for knowledge may not continue and I don’t mind that (well I don’t think I will, only time will tell).  They may just start to balance with all the children in their classes as they get older.  They may get distracted by other activities.  But this is fine, ultimately all I still want for them is to be happy.
So is it nature of nurture their cleverness, well MadDad is clever too, he did his exams etc a year earlier, but I am just kind of average.  In my opinion what good is intelligence if you don’t have the ambition to match.  Also I quite like being average, It has never held me back.  I did well at work, excelled in fact.  If I set my mind to something, then I tend to find a way to achieve it.
I just don’t know, but we are all happy and we are all healthy so we will be going on as we have been and taking each day as it comes, with lots of loving and firm family values.
But you know what the things that thrilled me most were hearing about how well they are behaved, that they have good interpersonal skills and are both joys to teach.  This wasn’t just by their own teachers, but other people came up to us in the course of the evening and told us that we should be proud of our boys and you know what, we are.  We have been unable to wipe the smiles of our faces.