|Agra Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India|
How many times, as the parent of an outlier, have I heard another parent say this to my child? Or to me, in reference to my child and the "obvious" errors in my parenting.
And most of the time they have an excellent point, but their point doesn't hit any mark that is on our target.
The most recent experience of this was with a good friend, one with whom the Teenlet loves talking about math. You see, as he was taking calculus, so was she - so they talked about theorems and about problems they were encountering. She would challenge his assumptions, and he would then prove and re-prove them (backwards!) for her. She is an adult. He is 14.
One day, as they were having yet another wonderful conversation, she asked him if he ever talked to his friends about calculus. His response, "none of my friends have taken calculus."
She was horrified. Here is this child who can't talk to his friends about his interests! How horrible!
I wanted to say, "welcome to the life of a PG child." But I didn't.
She responded to him, "If I was your mother, I would make sure you were around people with whom you could talk math."
(Again, me thinking, "why do you think I bring him here?" But again, I didn't say it out loud.)
She then started pressing me on where I could find groups of math-loving people, but soon she saw the problem. The classes for children and teenagers are so far behind him, they have nothing to offer him (even those that are intended for gifted learners). The places where math is discussed at the level he needs to discuss it are mostly in contexts that are inappropriate for a 14 year old with social anxiety.
So he talks about math at home with dad, and with our dear friend, and every so often he finds a sympathetic ear who will listen, even if they can't understand.
I am so grateful for those other adults who have given the Teenlet and outlet to talk about what is interesting to him. For the doctor who listened intently as the Teenlet told him about the Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment. For the youth leader who listens and asks questions. For the rock hound and the fireworks enthusiast who taught him to share their passions.
Peers are important for everyone. But for the gifted outlier, the term "peer" doesn't describe a single age group or demographic. And they are very, very hard to find.
This post is part of the SENG National Parenting Gifted Children Week blog tour. You can find more fantastic posts here