It’s hard to describe, but oh so easy to recognize. It’s a tight smile, the eyes slightly glazed and fixed on a point across the room. And silence from the person with the look, maybe a soft “mmm…”
It’s the look I get if and when the subject comes up about having a gifted kid.
It’s the look of “aren’t you full of yourself, thinking you have a gifted kid. Gee, how easy your life must be” and/or “Christ, another mom who thinks her child walks on water.”
It’s not easy, and I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that my kid can’t walk on water. He’s tried. Didn’t work. Simply got wet.
I went to the groundbreaking ceremony for the new school last night. It had to be moved indoors because of heavy rain that turned the building site into 4 inches of mud and standing water (and made the trucks halt work at 1 pm thankyouGOD!). A friend (who also has a gifted son) and I were talking to another friend about the new school and how excited/encouraged we were that the new principal has extensive experience with gifted education, and the possibility that there would be a gifted program at the school.
And then came “the look.”
I will NOT hide the fact that my child is a different learner. I also don’t flaunt that my child is a different learner. It just is who he is, and anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes with him recognizes that. Gifted does NOT mean “super-smart,” or “mom is pushing the kid,” or “mom is living vicariously through her child.” It means that the child learns differently, whether that be quickly, or needing to learn something in depth (and I mean in depth to the point of driving the parent nuts). Gifted also has its quirks, and it’s these quirks that drive me to the edge of the abyss. I could go on forever about these quirks, but I don’t have that kind of time.
It’s especially frustrating when the gifted child has obvious deficits, in A’s case, ADHD and some sensory issues. You just want to scream at the skies, “You’re so smart, WHY CAN’T YOU DO THIS?” He just can’t, physically can’t. Can’t pay attention to something that doesn’t grab his attention, unless he’s on his meds. Can’t do it, any more than a diabetic can go without insulin. Can’t fall asleep, because he can’t turn his mind off at night. Can’t not ask questions, because he has this need to know.
At times, I wish he were more average. I’ve spent my life as a B+/A- kind of person; slightly above average, but not so far above that it draws attention. A is not like that, and it’s tough for me. Especially when “the look” comes into play. I’m not pushing, he’s pulling. I envy moms who have neurotypical (NT) kids; they think they have a hard time with their kids and they just don’t know. J doesn’t give us the fits that A does, but I have a gut feeling that he’ll surprise us when he gets older.
And then…I’m glad A is the way he is, and I don’t want him any other way. I wouldn’t know what to do with him if he suddenly changed. For now, I have a handle (slightly broken) on how to deal with him, how to teach him, how to guide him. And if he suddenly changed, I’d be lost. I envy moms of NT kids, but I also wish they could know the joys of having such a challenging kid. A kid who is so excited when he learns something new, like how solar power works. A kid who would rather do puzzles than play video games…most of the time. A kid who asks questions, very in-depth questions, at the age of 2 1/2 about the nature of the universe and makes you go to the internet to find the answers. No joke, when A was that age, I thought I was going to have to get a PhD in astrophysics to tell him bedtime stories.
Just, please, moms and dads out there. Don’t think parents of gifted kids have it easy. We don’t. Yeah, our kids are smart, but that comes with a price, a price you can’t explain unless you’re living it. I know a woman, a woman I truly don’t like (and they are few and far between) who has a daughter similar to A. We were out to dinner with a bunch of others last fall and, being seated across from one another, were talking about the challenges of raising gifted kids. We knew what the other was talking about, and no one else around us understood. We just raised our wineglasses in a toast to ourselves.
So, please, be careful with “the look.” No one realizes they do it, and you can’t prevent it. Just remember: we’re not pushing, they’re pulling.