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, July 5, 2012

But It Won't Be Like That for the Kidlet

The other night, I was watching a television show. It was an episode that I'd seen before, but had always thought that the 22-month old boy they had chosen to play a certain role had to be a bit, well, slow. He didn't have much vocabulary - repeating a single word or maybe putting together a sentence of 3 words every so often. But this time, I was struck by the thought that maybe this kid wasn't slow, maybe my whole view of what is appropriate for a 22-month old child is massively skewed by my own experience of parenting a profoundly gifted child. It made me cry.

You see, we've just been through the season of graduations. I know a lot of high school graduates in the class of 2012, and we spent most weekends last month going from one graduation party to another. It's terrific. Except it makes me very sad.

These seniors have been doing all the things that high school seniors are supposed to do. They took senior pictures, they've been filling out college applications and getting their acceptance letters, they went to prom, they are doing senior trips and senior skip days and of course there is baccalaureate, graduation and the required graduation party (and I'm sure a lot I don't need to know about). They are looking forward to their next steps - some will be traveling on an in-between year before heading to college; some are going far away to universities; some are staying closer to home. They all have plans.

It won't be like that for the kidlet. How do I know? Well, he's 12 and he's already mostly finished high school. He took the SAT in May and scored higher than I did as a junior in high school. I could have "graduated" him with the class of 2012 without blinking an eye. There was no reason to - and he's CERTAINLY not ready to go to college yet (I have no doubt that he could comprehend everything in a college class, and contribute to discussions fairly well. But there's no way he could actually pass one yet). We will fill the time with the one remaining high school subject he hasn't completed yet, and let him start researching more deeply into his special interest field (aerodynamics). If I can get him into a college course, I will do so as it's appropriate.

See, college is going to be a gradual adjustment for him - not a big celebration followed by a move into the dorm, freshman activities and midnight ice cream or Taco Bell runs. He could be finished with his Bachelor's degree before he ever decides to move away from home. Will he ever have a dorm experience?

I'm trying to be happy for my friends who have their now- (or nearly-) adult children graduating. But I can't help feeling a bit envious of the normalcy. And I can't help grieving the list of childhood markers in our family that have been greatly accelerated beyond our capability to manage them.

But I've got to let him be who HE is. And that's never been, nor will it ever be, "normal."


  1. Until gifted society gives up the milestones of the nongifted society, those milestones will continue to be a source of misery. We have to change our idea that gifted is nongifted plus something. Rather than trying force our differences into a structure that doesn't fit us any more than a monkey's social structure, we need to toss that idea and open our minds to discover our own milestones, our own social celebrations. Since our society is more cooperative than competitive perhaps something like the day of first passion --- the discover of the first thing were seriously passionate about and pursued vigourously. With so many gifted dropping out of school into a destroyed life, maybe a day of celebration for commitment to lifelong exploration and creation. Maybe a day when we transition from mostly acquiring basic knowledge to using it and progressing into more advanced subjects. And most of all, any celebration needs to accommodate the asynchrony of giftedness, that these milestones might be achieved at all different ages. Every journey in giftedness doesn't have to be a lone journey if we simply stop trying to fit into a different society and start making our own.

  2. I have been reading your blog for about 6 months. So much of what you say strikes a chord with me. Thank you.

    Don't waste a minute wishing things were different. Many of these seniors, who are doing all the things seniors are 'supposed' to do are doing them for just that reason - because it is expected. It may not be what they truly want but what others (read:parents, teachers, peers, etc.)think they should be doing. There is a lot of pressure on kids to create a great resume for their college application. Most of the speeches I heard from the guidance counselors at my daughter's freshman orientation (for high school) were about preparing for their college application. No mention of discovering something you are passionate about or exploring interests outside of the school setting. At least you can be confident that your son will be learning about and exploring things that he is interested in. There is nothing worse than having your enthusiasm crushed. Your path in life may not be the same as most others but, maybe you aren't going to the same place :)

    (BTW, my daughter asked to homeschool half way through her freshman year...we supported that decision and she was able to take a class at our local community college. She loved the independence and is looking forward to continuing on her own path...who knows where it will lead?)

  3. I finally have a moment to comment properly. I completely and utterly get this post. We won't be following that path either (although the university selection process is much less onerous here in Australia).

    I've just had a robust "discussion" about online open uni with a homeschool facebook group. They think that 13 year old kids doing open uni units is a waste of time and that we are "pushing them" out of their childhood. Sigh. What is wrong with following your passions at an appropriate level? Maybe even earn credits towards a degree.

    Know there are others out there dealing with the same issues - not many of us, but some of us. Not many others will understand how different our path is. But we are still "normal" - just not average. Big hugs.