Good God, here we go again. And I thought it was going to be a quiet evening, just me and a glass of wine and the dog and doing a little writing on my book. But it’s amazing how fast I can go zero to WTF when I read something so breathtakingly ignorant that it’s like standing on the surface of the moon with a rutabaga.
This time it was a blog post over on Babycenter, titled I hate hearing about your gifted child. For starters, hate is a strong word. Save it for things like puppy mills and TSA patdowns and racial intolerance. Words have power, you don’t need to use it there.
So, we’re going to start from the beginning. Again. And again and again and GODDAMMIT AGAIN until people get it through their heads. GIFTED.IS.WIRING. It is who a person is, not what a person accomplishes. And I do not know a single parent of a gifted kid who unabashedly brags about his or her child. Because parents of gifted kids, not high-achieving kids, know how oh-my-effing-God exhausting these kids are. They don’t expend the energy bragging, they’re using that energy to try to stay one step ahead of their kid.
I laugh about using “code words” when talking to other parents. The magenta frogs whistles at midday under the dry umbrella. I may joke about it, but I’m one hundred percent serious. I do not talk about my twice-exceptional son unless the other parent has also dropped code words about his/her gifted kid. And I couldn’t begin to tell you what those words are, they are just there. And when we find each other, it’s like a two-person support group. The feeling of safety is immeasurable. That person gets it. We can share the joys and the frustrations and the achievements and the struggles. No code words, no discussion about my gifted kid. I don’t need the unspoken judgment from other parents. I have enough to deal with.
Starting from the very first playgroups I attended with A, I knew something was up. He couldn’t have been more than a year, but he was different. The other kids would be playing nicely with toys; he’d be inspecting the safety gate and get around it. I thought about hiring him out to new parents to check their childproofing. He once got his head stuck in a banister (yeah, gifted kid…sigh) because the stairway was blocked off and he was curious-ALWAYS curious- about what was beyond it. At 3 he was putting brand-new floor puzzles together in minutes. With the picture facing the floor. And I never bragged to the other parents about what he could do.
The author of this article brags about how kind her daughter is. Well, that’s parenting. Probably some inherent gentleness, but that’s mostly parenting. I could no more parent giftedness into my son than parent his blue eyes brown. He came to us with stunning blue eyes and some wacked out gifted wiring. But I bet she’ll brag about parent-teacher conferences. I can’t and I don’t. Because as gifted as my son is, conferences were a nightmare from third grade on. I see friends on Facebook brag about their kids’ conferences, about report cards, and heartbroken, I know it’ll never happen here. Because if there’s anything that describes twice-exceptional, it’s “gifted but.”
It’s hard enough being a parent. But shit like this makes being the parent of a gifted/2e kid even harder. It just reinforces the societal stereotype that gifted is elitism, or only high-achieving, or the perfect kid at all times. My kid is hard. Damned fucking hard. And I know we’ve been accused of being too lenient with him and too tough on him and are you sure he needs those meds and does he really need the gluten-free/dairy-free diet. We are doing the best we can, with what we have, when we have it. Live in my shoes, see what I see, know what I know, live what I live, THEN you may comment. Or write an ignorant blog post about how you can’t stand hearing about gifted kids. I have given up so much of my life for my son. Career is toast. Savings are slim. Sanity is gone. Homeschooling the only option for a kid who was going down for the third time in public school. And I would do it again and again and GODDAMMIT AGAIN.
Linda Silverman, the incredible woman at the helm of the Gifted Development Center in Denver (yes, where we had A tested), had these words to say about giftedness:
“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”
Yes. Trust yourself. And not some blogger who doesn’t know better.