A gifted individual is a quick and clever thinker, who is able to deal with complex matters. Autonomous, curious and passionate. A sensitive and emotionally rich person, living intensely. He or she enjoys being creative. -definition of giftedness written by the Netherlands Study on Giftedness in Adults

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Yeah, My Kid is Smart, BUT...

Yesterday, I read a really frustrating blog post on the Momformation blog at babycenter.com. It is entitled, "I hate hearing about your gifted child." The blog goes on to talk about how hearing about others' children's successes makes her feel as if her child is somehow less valuable, less special, less unique. Somehow, this mom seems to think that another kid's smartness puts them in a special glass case that nobody else needs to bother with. I wonder if she feels equally as threatened by parents who talk about their children's sports accomplishments, or musical talent?

 Well, let's set the record straight about giftedness.

 Maybe it comes across as bragging, but when I talk about my gifted child it certainly doesn't FEEL like bragging, because it's more like venting. I don't want to suggest that parents of gifted/2e kids have it worse off than any other parent - by no means, everyone has their own struggles with their children. But I'd really like this babycenter mom to trade kids with me for a day or so - if for no other reason than I could send her kid off to school or a friend's house without worrying about getting That Phone Call telling me it's time for her to come home. And I could get some peace and quiet for a while.

Let me be clear - I do not homeschool because I want to. I do not homeschool because I think my kid is too special to be in a regular classroom. I had to quit a job I loved so I could stay home to homeschool my child because we could not find a school that could educate him. We had three private schools that were willing to try, but none of them would say that he'd learn anything. Sorry, I'm not going to start spending money against the equity of our home to send him to a school where he won't learn anything (and I'm likely to get That Phone Call at least on a weekly basis, so really, working at any job that's not incredibly flexible is out anyway). We homeschool because his pace of learning is about a grade every month or so (that we started noticing that trend when he was in 2nd grade and was being tested for reading comprehension, and it went up a full grade and a half every month - they stopped testing him when he hit 12th grade reading level, a month before his 8th birthday). When left to his own devices, he has managed to race through 9th, 10th, and 11th grades since September, and is half-way through two AP courses he started three weeks ago. People ask me what we're going to do next, and it's all I can do not to shout out - "how the heck should I know?" Because here's the thing - HE IS NOT READY TO GO TO COLLEGE.

And this is the thing that most people don't get about giftedness - asynchrony. The kidlet has an amazing brain, but emotionally he is far, far behind his age. Imagine how frustrating it would be to have an intellectual understanding that exceeds most of the people you run into, but are unable to express yourself beyond what a 7 year old can do (and I might be aging his emotional development a little too much). Just imagine how frustrating that must be! For HIM! And for his parents, who are doing our darndest to try to help him navigate those waters, but can't even figure out where to start. And dagnabbit - somehow I've got to keep him learning while waiting for him to mature enough to actually go to college!

Recently, I had this conversation with the kidlet.

Kidlet: Mommy, mommy. Guess what I figured out today!
Mommy: What's that??
Kidlet: A new way to ANNOY people really bad! I just keep saying the name of my favorite character in my game... Kevin kevin kevin kevinkevinkevinkevinkevinkevin...
Mommy: Stop now.
Kidlet: See it works! kevinkevinkevinkevinkevinkevin
Mommy: Do you realize that when you annoy people, it makes them not want to be around you?
 Kidlet: It does?
 Mommy: Uh, yeah... you didn't know this?
 Kidlet: No, I didn't.
Mommy: How does it make you feel when someone annoys you?
Kidlet: I want them to stop it.
Mommy: And you really didn't know...

Yes, thank you asynchrony! I could go on - the school struggles that sent the kidlet into chronic stomachaches and crying fits and me into anxiety-induced hives. The IEP meetings. The parent-teacher conferences when all we hear is negative. The report cards with "1"s down the personal skills column (that's like an F). The attempts to get him involved in team sports and having coaches ask me not to bring him any more. The mean, horrible, terrible things people have said about him. The frustration-induced temper tantrums that come out of nowhere because he cannot express himself the way he can think it.

So, if you think I "brag" too much about my gifted child, you clearly are not listening. And, Momformation mom - I hope you appreciate the fact that you have a kind, "normal" child, who can fit in with other children her own age, who can participate in activities without one of her parents in viewing distance, and who can go on sleepovers with friends because their parents aren't afraid to have her over.

/vent

42 comments:

  1. As one parent-of-a-freak to another...I hear you.

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  2. Holy heck yes. I just...sigh...yeah, you know.

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  3. Asynchrony BITES. I feel your pain. I have two of those. Mine are not quite as extreme as your son (only 3-4 grades ahead), but hey, there are TWO of them, lol. SIGH.

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  4. Love, love, love this post... of all the things I have to deal with, I think the loneliness of no other parent understanding what we are going through is possibly one of the hardest things to cope with.

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  5. Thank you for eloquently articulating our daily existence :). Asynchrony sucks! Sigh... xx

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  6. totally. you nailed it.

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  7. As a parent of a highly asynchronous child (5th-post high school level, depending on area, when she'd normally be in 1st grade), thank you! There are few people who can understand just how scary it is to have a 7 yr old who is downloading placement tests to show you that she's ready for algebra (and based on Saxon, TT, and AOPS, she is)-but who still can't reliably tie her shoes, gets distracted because she's wiggling her loose tooth, and bursts into tears at the drop of a hat. She's probably going to be ready for college coursework before she'd normally be out of elementary school, and I'm terrified.

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  8. Thank you! Unfortunately, I don't think this will get quite the attention as the BBC post :(

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  9. Great post. I think parenting a gifted child full of intensities, special needs and asynchronous development might help some people appreciate how much wonderful there probably is in "normal". There are many days where I'm sure my child (and her mama) would trade some of that advanced academic ability for the ability to easily get along with the other girls on the playground and the ability to fit in. It's not quite what people seem to think it is.

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  10. Love! Now, if only the readership at Momformation took the time to read this. I doubt they will, though. People have incredible blinders on when it comes to gifted/asynchrony issues.

    Lisa

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  11. I have a 2e child too, it's hard to find other to talk to about it. Most of the time we feel like our child won't ever fit in anywhere. Thanks for writing about your experiences.

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  12. Haha! I have had so many similar situations. That blog post made me need to vent as well. I've got both a "gifted" son and a "special needs" son on either side of my strong-willed hyper-logical middle son. We homeschool for some of those same reasons. Here was my venting session in the form of a blog post. http://laurenocean.com/?p=418

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    1. Beautiful response, Lauren! Thank you!

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  13. Ahhhh... I needed that because my gifted son was suspended *again* last week. Definitely something I brag about... not.

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    1. I can't tell you how many times my son has been sent home from school. Can.not.count.them. In first grade, he was so miserable he would rather deal with mommy's wrath at home than try to stay in the classroom. Once I got the call before I had even had time to get home after dropoff (it was a 7-minute drive). :(

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  14. Here! Here! Well said.

    My son learned how to force himself to throw up so he'd get sent home from school.

    One thing to think about are online college courses. Some Universities have started offering free courses that don't really have teacher feedback if doing the assignments is an issue. http://www.hci-class.org/ (scroll to the bottom to see some of the other classes offered.)

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  15. Wow. Thank you so much. I just read many of your previous posts as well and can't tell you how much I can relate. My son is so similar. Like you, we are now homeschooling. My son's kindergarten experience matches your description to a T-- the initial excitement and anticipation of all the learning (more science!), and the slow realization over the first weeks that there was not going to be any learning at all. And like your son, mine is highly asynchronous,highly gifted with fine motor skills and social/emotional development lagging well behind his cognitive skills. So hard! And such a terrific kid in ways that others don't always see-- it can be kind of heart breaking. Anyway-- I really appreciated your blog.

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    1. It's so sad to watch your child's love of learning disappear... Hope you're able to rebuild it at home! Hang in there, you're doing great!

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  16. I'm glad to have found your blog! I have 2 2E's that are preschool age and very asynchronous. My 2.5 year old tested on 4th grade level on a reading assessment but people can't see what's wrong with that. Sigh. I love them dearly but my goodness, I need a vacation from all the insanity.

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    1. It is SOOO HARD to find appropriate reading material for an advanced reader! There is just NOTHING out there that has appropriate content that will challenge them in reading! That's why I don't mind that the kidlet loves reading things like the an encyclopedia of insects, or The Way Things Work (really recommend the latter, btw - get it from the library if you can't buy it, I think it's out of print).

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    2. amen. the dues we pay are no more or no less than other parents yet because one can attach 'gifted' to the front end of all the battles, we are not entitled to bask in what little glory comes our way? sigh. i am new to this battle and would also trade my incredible little guy for the occassional day of ordinary.

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  17. HUGS to you - as the parent to 2 of these little lovelies : )

    We homeschool also as we would have needed to move to attempt to find a school that is suitable...fat chance really.
    The funny thing is, it isn't like we all really have a choice with the g factor - you deal with what you get!
    Come and visit sometime
    http://traceymansted.blogspot.com.au/

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  18. Honey, I don't think the writer of that blog was talking about parents of kids who are super-excpetionally gifted.

    I think she was talking about the parents of the kids in the top reading group in her daughter's class, the ones who patronizingly say things like, "Oh, your little Susie is doing just fine, I'm sure. My Janie is gifted and she just needs more stimulation than the public schools can provide."

    That may be true, but it comes across as, "My child is so far beyond your kid that they really shouldn't go to school together. In fact, just associating with your kid brings mine down."

    And I don't care who you are, nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a message like that.

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    1. I guess you simply don't get gifted? Gifted is gifted, when one is gifted there are these problems. And schools regularly do not provide for gifted children.

      If she was talking about people whose children are not gifted, then why is the blog post called "I hate hearing about your gifted child"?

      Of course noone would want to be on the receiving end of what you wrote - but noone has actually said this right? It is all in your head? It is apparently an "implied" comment? A voice in your head tells you what someone really means, as opposed to the words that came out of their mouth in English, about something you know nothing about?

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    2. I have one gifted child and one with severe learning disabilities.

      I will admit that the gifted child is "optimally gifted"-- meaning an IQ right at the point where school is very easy but she has no issues with oversensitivities or making friends or whatever. In fact she's almost the perfect child-- which is another problem.

      But it would be very inconsiderate of me to go up to the parent of a child who acts up in class and unburden myself on the problems of having a perfectly behaved child.

      And it would be very inconsiderate for the parent of a child who reads X grade levels ahead to "confide" about her child's issues to the parent of a child who's seriously struggling in school.

      Because my oldest is well-known to be gifted (he wins every academic competition out there), I'm on the recieving end of many such confidences. I have the background to know these other moms mean well and aren't trying to denigrate my younger kid, but it's still a punch in the gut.

      It would be far more difficult for the mom of a struggling child without that frame of reference.

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    3. Parents very naturally talk about their children. We all have our struggles, we all have those areas in which we are proud of our kiddos (ask me about my kidlet's black belt in Tae Kwon Do - lol). That we want to share them with other parents is quite normal. In a highly competitive society, it's also quite the norm to attempt some "one-upmanship" using our children as rungs on the stepladder. I completely understand how one parent's excitement over their child's accomplishment can make another parent's stomach unknot and reknot itself about a million times (been there!).

      I wish we could all just be happy for another parent when their child wins all the academic competitions (mine won't even try). I wish we could all be supportive when we have struggles (WHY WON'T HE JUST TRY?). But I fear that is not human nature. I will be bold and admit that I get a bit envious when someone says their child is getting straight A's, or got an award for their Good Citizenship, or they get to go to school and have all of those "normal" experiences that we associate with childhood. But that's just not where we are - it won't ever work for us and the sooner us parents figure out that it's not about making US feel accomplished and successful, the better it will be for our children.

      I wrote this post because I saw an egregious example of a parent not looking for the blessings she has in her own child, and instead was trying to categorize a whole group of parents and children based on her limited experience of a few. Is my post reactionary? Yes. Do I think she has a point? Perhaps - I've known plenty of "those parents" myself. But I know so many parents of gifted children who feel like they have to hide the fact that their child is gifted because they feel scorned over it for this exact reason. They get ZERO support and ZERO understanding because their problems are assumed to be less challenging than the parent of the child who won't read. I started this blog to combat some of those misconceptions, and to give parents, like me, who feel completely disenfranchised by the educational system and other parents and are just looking for a place where someone else can understand that having a gifted child is not all kittens and roses, straight A's and teacher's pets.

      I think this blog has done that - at least for a few people. I hope we can ALL find places where we find hope, support, and understanding.

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    4. Your blog has done that for me! Thank you for sharing. It's been a lonely road for us, and great to finally find others who have been there too and understand the challenges and the joys!

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  19. Hello,

    I found your blog yesterday from a Laughing at Chaos link to this post, and I have just finished reading the entire thing. Thank you very much. As a teenager living with giftedness and OEs and boredom and frustration and the fact that Chrome does not recognize the word 'giftedness,' and responsible at this point for mediating my own contact with the world, I really appreciated your thoughts and stories. Please continue to share them with the world and I wish you and your son the best of luck.

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  20. "Honey, I don't think the writer of that blog was talking about parents of kids who are super-excpetionally gifted."

    That might not have been her intent but the graphic she used with the kid having a third leg implied to me that she thinks gifted kids are freaks. Whatever her intent, the graphic should go.

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  21. I saw the light fade in my child's eyes. He has spent years trying to fit into the little box at school. The lessons he has learned best? Procrastination, cramming, coasting and not learning more than the absolute minimum because he's "not supposed to know that."

    I fought his father for years, but you can't explain to someone who has never experienced that sense of isolation and freakishness what it feels like to have dumb down your vocabulary and not raise your hand because you know arcane facts in newly introduced subjects.

    In a way, our son has mastered the system. He just refuses to read anything. Period. He refuses to exert himself at almost anything except trying to be "normal." A mind like that must accumulate vast libraries of arcana howver, and so he has of virtual universes in videogames, assault weapons and music.

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    1. *sad face* Your son has found a way to compensate, but I wish he could be given the tools to fly! Fight for him, mom! Keep it up! He (and all other gifted kids) need to know it's okay to be who they are.

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  22. Thank you for this post. I try not to think about all the times I got That Phone Call when my son was in kindergarten. He's very smart and curious, but immature, lacking in social skills, and extremely impulsive. Being in a classroom was a disaster and we're now very happy to be homeschooling. He seriously makes me want to cry sometimes but, on the other hand, I'm so grateful to have such a smart, imaginative, funny kid. Great post!

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  23. Thank you so much for this post, children react differently to same situations and it needs our being to pinpoint where the problem is. They really liked it Coloring Pages

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  24. I don't think that it is odd that you're son is unaware of somethings but has an amazing reading level. My daughter is really smart and gets straight A's. She is always predicting and asking so many questions about things-obvious things and world related questions. She also loves to tell me how everyday items may have been invented and how they could have gotten their names. I'm amazed at some of the things she says and how she thinks about things but she is a bit socially immature. She doesn't really like to make new friends or get together with anyone. She only has a couple of friends that she barely talks to. She also doesn't know what a lot of words mean even though she is a very good speller. She also does some juvenile things but I don't mind them much. She is very sensetive about killing things. Here's a conversation I once had with her:
    Me: (Walks into her room)
    My daughter: Mom, there's a giant spider in the corner of my room!
    Me: So? Why don't you kill it?
    My daughter: No! How would you like it if someone killed you for no reason? And what if it starts bleeding? Mom can you hurry up and kill it? It's crawling on my stuff.
    Me: I thought you said you didn't want to kill it.
    My daughter: I don't! Wait yeah I don't want it to bite me! Is it possible you could pick it up and put it outside without killing it?
    Me: No.
    My daughter: (Get's a sad look on her face)

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  25. Oh hey, we have the same kid. Throw in the fact that at 10.5 he's 5ft5 and 103lbs (he looks like Shaggy from Scooby Doo), and people don't know what to think. Learning on a 12th grade and above level? he's got that covered. Sadly, his 7 year old sister is more emotionally mature than he is. :P

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  26. This. yes this. Totally. In my extended family its totally acceptable to go on and on about my nephew's hockey talent, but the fact that my son (who is the same age) is "gifted" is the topic we must speak of, even though as you well know its a blessing and a curse....

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  28. I have 2 boys ages 13 and 11. The 13 year old when he was old enough to be potty trained decided I was doing it wrong and locked himself in the bathroom. Trying to break down the door I hear him yell "I'll do it myself".. and from that day on he trained himself. When the 11 year old was ready to be trained the 13 year old took him in the bathroom when I wasn't looking and lock the door and trained him. I knew from that day there was something odd about this kid. From that day forward this kid did some weird things (advance things). Reading and writing before he started kindergarten. Putting things in order by size, color. Spelling. Unlocking locks. Memorizing things. Today he is in 8th grade honor student with perfect grades and I have been told his math skills are actually 2 grades advanced. He is in advanced band and his band teacher told me he shows him a new piece of music and he plays it once and then memorizes it. He doesn't need the sheet after that point. But he has social problems. He always wants to be alone. He rarely talks. He gets upset easily. He is very sensitive and if I need to remind him to do something he thinks I am being harsh or gets really upset. I am at my wits end. My other child the 11 year old is basically a hacker. He too is highly intelligent. But not this extreme. But he is carefree. Extrovert. Talkative. Funny and silly. Loves animals. Remembers numbers easily and understand computers and knows his way around them. His math skills are not as advanced as his brother but he is also in math honors. He is also sensitive but not like that of his brother. It is in a good way. He cares for things. Makes friends easily. I don't know what to do with my 13 year old. I am seeking help.

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    1. I encourage you to seek out Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (giftedhomeschoolers.org). It's not just for homeschoolers any more, and they have regional contacts that can help you connect with others who have gifted children, as well as resources to help you as a parent. This is hard. Really hard. Sending good thoughts to you as you parent an exceptional child.

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  29. And I thought I was the only one! My child is not nearly as gifted as your child, but he is very smart. I had to work sooo hard to get his teacher to look past his attention issues to realize he is smart. Let him advance to something more challenging. He's a young 5. His penmanship may not be the best, but he's great with concepts. My son too does not realize that his actions can be annoying. It's nice to know that not only am I not alone, but there is help out there for my son. I honestly didn't know where to turn next.

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