Thursday, June 20, 2013

Who Cares About IQ Anyway?

The envelope arrived in the mail today. Now it sits there on the counter. I moved it from my computer table to the pile of newspapers that need to be read, onto the counter. All in a span of 30 minutes!
It sits there, unopened, with all the power of the world over me.
I feel my breathing become labored, my neck hurts from the tension of my shoulders, my head pounds, my heart pounds and God, my breathing is so shallow. I can’t catch my breath; it escapes, never satisfying me enough. I try to breathe deeply, like I do in yoga, in and out; count it in, 1, 2, 3, and 4 and out, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. I love when I can get an extra breath out. It helps.
I try not to think about how this unopened envelope has the capacity to paralyse me, yet it does, and I am reminded of this fact, just by its sight. This is my anxiety at its highest power over my body; I try not to let it take over my mind too.
I know that envelope only contains an administered intelligence test for my daughter. It does not define her, or say who she is; it only tells me her IQ. It only tells me where she is intellectually compared to her peers. It will tell me that based on the results of the assessment, she is considered mentally retarded, a label I hate. A label that the system is trying to change now, to “cognitive impairment”.
I’ve been here before, four years ago, sitting in an office when someone first said those words to me, labelled my daughter that way. Actually she was one point away, and I was given the choice for them to go either way, if I chose the one point less, funding and resources would open up. I am not stupid, I told them I didn’t care what they called her, please go the one point lower. I quit my job that next week and embarked on a new focus in my life.
Here I am four years later, and I know the results that are contained in the envelope. I already had the sit down with the school psychologist. I remember the day well, only last week, when I walked home from the meeting giving way to my body and mind as it failed me. I lay on my couch at 4 in the afternoon, and I stayed that way for 2 hours. I don’t remember if I slept, cried, or if I was consumed with thoughts. I just know I missed my yoga class, sent my daughter to go for a walk with the dog and let her stay in her room to hang out. I didn’t want her to see me the way I was. Those two hours, would normally be filled with doing chores, homework and dinner prep, but today she got to spend at her leisure, while I let my body and mind recover.
I won’t let the same thing happen to me today. That envelope can sit unopened. I will write, I will work in my yard, I will keep busy. Today is too nice a day to be consumed by worry, by sadness, and yes by grief.
Today I will enjoy the sunshine on my shoulders, the breeze on my face, the time I take in solitude to consider how I will enjoy my summer. I will not make lists, and plan, and research.
I learned 13 years ago to never plan for more than the year. Each year brings changes, re assessments of the school year, new challenges to face.
I learned that each year I have a time of sadness, a time of grieving for what will never be, a time of joy for what is and a sense of pride for achievements.
What is the big deal with an IQ anyway? It’s not like we base our friendships and loves on it. We don’t ask people before we choose to love them, “hey what is your IQ, because if it’s not at least 92, I don’t think I can love you!”
No, we choose who we love based on caring, compassion, kindness, humor, spirit....not their ability to do algebra or write a winning essay or even play an instrument.
While my daughter may not be “book smart”, she is loyal and loving, genuine, cultured, kind, considerate, compassionate, happy, and above all, loved. Those are just some of her qualities, and I know, that is more important than any level of IQ.
So to hell with IQ!
Thanks for stopping by...


  1. I've always thought it so sad that we've made intellect such a god. Like the brain is somehow more important than the rest of our body. Just because a part of ourselves needs extra attention does not mean it is worth less. To hell with IQ, indeed!
    You and your daughter both sound like amazing people. Praying for abundant grace in your lives. :)

  2. I read this post with great an educator I have sat in many an ARD meeting where kids are pigeonholed into their "disability". I read IEPs to determine how to best help the student fit into the class. Then, I have the kid in class and see time after time how we are so much more than our "labels". I've had the privilege of working with some very challenged individuals, and to see their growth and happiness is truly inspiring. It's true what you say, "to hell with IQ"

    1. Thank you! I always love getting the perspective of an educator. Tough job! Thank you for reading!