What does bragging look like to you?
Let me tell you a story. It’s a story of a young woman who wanted to have children of her own. She had babysat and taught and daycared kids from age 12, had married a wonderful man who loved her and made her laugh, and she wanted to start a family. After a few hiccups, a son. A gift from the universe came barreling into this young couple’s lives, changing them forever. By the time this son arrived, this young woman had over 15 years of experience with kids, from babies to teenagers, kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds, from different parts of the country. She had been mentored by talented educators, given training in child-rearing, guided and helped by so many. This young naive woman thought she had the experience and preparation for parenting.
The child she brought into this world was like no child she had ever babysat, taught, or cared for. None. It went beyond the “my speshul snowflake” syndrome all new parents suffer. This infant, this toddler, this preschooler, this child of the universe…this kid was different. He was wired differently.
“Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching, and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.” The Columbus Group, 1991
The son was…is…gifted. It is such a loaded word, heavy with accusations of elitism and “better than.” But it’s the word that is we have, as burdened as it is.
Imagine having this child, this kid you love past rational thought, who exhausts you and worries you. You know he’s different, but you just can’t put your finger on it. So, when other moms are talking about their kids you mention something yours has done.
And are greeted by surprised expressions or barely concealed side-eye. Later you learn that the other thought you were bragging.
That didn’t happen to me very often; either I picked up quickly that my kid’s skills were outside the norm, or the other moms heard about him getting his head caught in a banister at playgroup and figured I had my hands full. He was three, there was a baby gate at the bottom…this wasn’t yesterday, people!
But I know this happens; I hear about it from other parents and read about it online.
While it frustrates and saddens me, I can see why some people can see this as bragging. It isn’t. It’s talking about our kids just as any other parent might and being chastened for it, right when we most need the support of other parents.
For the longest time I didn’t brag about my sons. The things I would celebrate wouldn’t be understood and the “normal” things other parents would share didn’t apply. But now? I do brag, and I have to force myself to not feel guilty about it because the things I brag about are more socially acceptable. Awards and accomplishments that the general public understands and appreciates. A 3 year old demanding (and understanding) scientifically accurate bedtime stories is one thing, an 18 year old earning national recognition in information technology is something different. One is seen as bragging and the other isn’t, and it’s frustrating as hell.
Gifted parents use code words and I wish we didn’t have to. I wish giftedness was understood and accepted as the neuropsychological wiring it truly is. I wish we could talk honestly about our kids without the side-eye. I wish parents of these amazing G2e kids were respected for the endlessly hard and thankless work they do for their kids. I wish for a lot of things and work to bring a tiny portion of it to life.
It’s not bragging. Talking about your kids, about their strengths and challenges and trying to find a kind heart to finally hear you is not bragging.
I hear you. ❤️
This is the next in my series, The ABCs of G2e. One post a week(ish) on various aspects of gifted and twice-exceptional lives and learning. Why G2e? Because I’m lazy and writing out gifted and twice-exceptional a bazillion times makes me a little nuts…and it just flows better.
Bragging… just honesty. It’s a long journey. Progress is when I don’t feel the need to talk about only my child’s problems and learning challenges to feel like we’re not a weird family. Hiding the fact that he’s a walking encyclopedia. Accepting all my children’s 2e”ness”. “What’s 2e?” they ask, twice exceptional… “Oh, is that what they call it?”, they say. “Yep, my kids don’t fix in a box, and I’m a better person for it”, I say. Then they politely stop talking to me… oh well, I think. Acceptance. I can talk about the last book I read or movies? Too late. It makes the people who do stay to get to know me even more worthy of my time 🙂
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