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

Monday, July 21, 2014

If I Was Your Parent...

"If I was [sic] your parent, I would (or wouldn't)..."

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.

Countless.

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
.

3 comments:

  1. Your son sounds amazing! I used to love theorems in math, but I couldn't hold a conversation about them now.
    I'm sorry that lady thought she could give you direction with your son's friends. People are clueless at times.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This post is so accurate that it actually brought tears to my eyes. When I think of the odd collection of people that I consider my 12 yr old son's "peers" all I can do is shake my head and be thankful for each of them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love this. It reminds me of my son(who was 4 at the time), trying so hard to find something to play with a neighborhood girl of the same age. First he tried to teach her chess. Then he wanted to read together. After trying numerous activities and having them rejected, I remember him standing there looking completely perplexed. Then the girl suggested playing blocks. He said, "Blocks...... Yes! We can play with blocks!" He is 8 now, and it is hard for him to find peers because he is ahead academically, but behind socially. It's helpful to know that other people are experiencing the same thing.

    ReplyDelete