'My girl is a genius!'
Having a super-intelligent little one can be ‘interesting’, says Zoe Townsend, whose daughter Beatrix became one of the youngest-ever members of Mensa at the age of two
Before Beatrix was born, if someone had told me the baby I was expecting would be a member of Mensa at the age of two, I’d never have believed them.
I’d have expected such intelligence to be genetic, and while my husband and I both have degrees (I’m a trainee teacher, he’san accountant), we’re not exceptional. My 10-year-old daughter, Antonia, is bright but has to work hard at school – there aren’t any Nobel Prize winners in the family!
But we started to notice something unusual about Beatrix when she was about 20 months old. Until then, she’d faced lots of medical issues. She was born four weeks early, failed to thrive and was prone to infections, but reached her early milestones normally, walking at 11 months and saying her first words at around 16 months.
At that stage, we didn’t think Beatrix was unusually bright – instead, we worried she might be deaf as she wouldn’t respond to her name. Then, at 18 months she was diagnosed with glue ear and had grommets fitted. That’s when things began to change.
In no time, she had a huge vocabulary. One day I caught her sliding down the stairs on her front, saying: ‘I’m swimming like a sea lion in the ocean!’ She has a very adult way of speaking, which is funny, but also slightly alarming. Beatrix turned three in June and can already read independently and can navigate around websites, like Discovery Kids, on her own.
At 22 months, Beatrix was referred to an educational psychologist who tested her IQ. The youngest tests available were for children aged 30 months, but she still scored 136, putting her in the top 2% of the population. That’s when we checked out the Mensa website, out of curiosity, and sent off the IQ test just for fun. I didn’t really believe she’d be accepted but she was, becoming one of the organisation’s youngest-ever members.
We have been called pushy parents, but we’re really not – Mensa is a useful resource for guidance with Beatrix’s educational needs. And while people say how great it must be to have such a bright child, it can actually be very challenging.
Beatrix is very selective about who she’ll play with, so often ends up playing alone, and gravitates more towards adults. She’s also a real perfectionist – everything has to be just so otherwise she gets stressed. Then there are her legendary debating skills. I’ll explain why she has to get dressed, but as far as she’s concerned, there’s no logical reason not to wear a nightie all day and has no problem arguing her corner. She’ll say: ‘Well actually, you’re wrong…’
She’s also super-competitive and likes to compete with her older sister. When telling her she can’t do the same things because she’s only two, she’ll say: ‘I’m not two, I’m 10!’ Sometimes she sounds like a spoilt teenager. Instead of normal toddler tantrums when out, she’ll say something like ‘I want to go home RIGHT NOW!’ and has started saying ‘FINE!’ and flouncing out when told something she doesn’t like. In other ways, though, she’s quite normal. She enjoys ballet and loves a cuddle. Having a daughter like Beatrix is fascinating, but it’s also quite a rollercoaster!