Bemused Parent: Entry 1

I’ve decided to start this diary, so that in time I’ll be able to look back and see just how crazy life was in this household. Many parents I know seem to have “normal” lives, where they go to work, interact with the children until they go to bed at a sensible hour, watch TV and even have time for hobbies.

That said, I love my nine-year old Ada and wouldn’t swap her for anything, not even for a morning yoga or mindfulness session instead of each hurried start to the school day. She is a late riser because she can’t bear to miss out on in-depth conversation at bedtime.

And then there’s the books. All of us in this home love books but only the HLP child has perfected grabbing every free minute to read, no matter how urgent it is to exit the house. As soon as Ada wakes up, there’s a book waiting to be coddled in the duvet. I’ll say a cheery good morning in the hope of catching her attention… nope, her eyes remain engrossed in the book. But this morning was different. I walked in at 7.30am, she said “Hello,” then: “Mum, don’t you think the word ‘anthropomorphic’ is unfair? My [soft toy] friends do have feelings.” Thank you, Lucy Hawking, for inspiring that nugget. Ten minutes later, all-purposeful Dad enters the room, demanding that his daughter gets up to be met with howls of protest. Who cares about the fact that parents must get to work and that there’s a new late mark potentially awaiting Ada? She says: “School is only starting with assembly and lots of sitting.”

As she really can’t live without books in the morning, an unacknowledged compromise has been made between us. Eat her breakfast rather than staring intently at New Scientist, and Ada is allowed to read the First Aid manual (a quicker read thanks to the diagrams!) as she has her hair tied back. Dad is also HLP and goes along amiably with the breakfast compromise, although how on earth he can solve a complex mathematical challenge from one of his tomes on the table before 8.15am is beyond me. And if a book isn’t available? Ada reads anything with writing on it, from cereals to leaflets.

At Lights Out there’s usually a wail if it’s no books-time. So, if the bedtime routine is hastened, there’s the luxury of those lovely stories! Or we’ll read to her. Oddly, after a tiring day, reading out loud and knowing my daughter’s contentment at storytime tends to make me feel happy; it’s bonding time that no classtime reading session can ever offer her.

Last night, when I asked Ada why books are so important, she just said: “I need to read.” Likewise, a friend’s HLP son said: “I like learning new things.”

I suspect books will be a lifetime habit, although they’re unlikely to teach Ada about remembering to hand in homework or keeping track of her possessions. We all need practical skills and I’ve met other HLP children who are aiming to improve their independence and organisation too. Yet when my usually benign mother-in-law once suggested that we put many of our books in storage, it felt like an affront even to me, the non-HLP parent. I know that Ada envies the elderly neighbour next door, who retreats daily to his gazebo to read newspapers or a book. He doesn’t need people around him, he needs the written word. I wonder how many newspapers he’s read in a lifetime?  I’ll ask Ada to do the Maths before she picks up George and the Ship of Time…

The HLP Diaries are fictional tales of parenting children with high learning potential.  If you are a Potential Plus UK member and have an anecdote you would like to share then we’d love to hear from you: email