Because gifted kids grow up.
Oh-ho! Surprised you there, didn’t I? Thought you’d find another little segment on the boys and why I pushed so hard for a gifted designation for A. And will probably push for one for J sooner rather than later. But nope, this ain’t about them today.
It’s about (gasp!) my husband.
I write very rarely about him, not because he’s asked to stay out of the limelight, but because I didn’t want anything I wrote to be put under a microscope and analyzed. I love my husband dearly even though I’ve wanted to smother him in his sleep many times this last year.
But back to gifted kids growing up.
Tom grew up in a rural part of Iowa and was the classic not-quite-fitting-in over-achiever. He hated sports (though now he will drop everything to watch the Broncos and has bizarro rituals to ensure a Cubs win). He was more sensitive than other kids. He excelled in school, was the high school drum major, wrote for the yearbook and newspaper. In a town where corn is big and high school wrestling is bigger, he stood out like a lime-green leisure suit. In emotional intensity he was much like A. He knows, better than anyone, how hard it is to grow up not fitting in. There was no gifted designation at his school, no advanced placement classes, no honors classes. In a world with no internet (really, you must say that with your best movie announcer voice), he read the World Book Encyclopedia…which A now reads when we go back to visit.
I truly believe my husband is a lot smarter than I am. He says the same about me. Neither one of us was designated as “gifted” growing up, but were just considered “smart.” It wasn’t until we started realizing that something was up with A five years ago and learned about giftedness that we concluded that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree and saw the same traits in ourselves. The whole emotional intensity aspect of giftedness was never even considered back then, and is barely recognized now. With the entire family here somewhere on the gifted scale, and with all the intensities that accompany it, it sometimes amazes me that we’re still functional. Yes, here at the House of Chaos we put the fun in dysfunctional!
A gifted label, if it is accompanied by true services, can help kids navigate the choppy waters of giftedness. It’s more than just “smart,” it’s wiring and sometimes that wiring needs assistance. Forty-five minutes once a week, to be skipped if there’s something “more important,” is not enough. My kids are gifted 24/7, not just when it’s convenient. They will have gifted wiring their entire lives. If the job of parents and schools is to raise and guide and teach kids to be fully-actualized adults, ready to advance society, then what are we doing to bring that about? What are we doing to teach them about managing their gifted wiring? To make it a positive part of them, not a disadvantage to overcome? What kind of gifted adults do we want to raise? What kind are we raising?
I know a lot of parents out there don’t want to label their children, and I respect that. I don’t understand it, but I respect it. A has an official gifted designation because we had to know what the hell was going on. We also needed to prove to the school that his ability is high while his achievement may not be; twice-exceptional can be a real pain in the neck. J hasn’t been tested yet, though we may need to go after it soon. He’s so far ahead of his classmates that I worry about him checking out because it’s so easy and then giving up when it gets hard. Um, yeah, I do know that from personal experience, why do you ask?
As I’ve learned more and more about giftedness, I recognize it more easily in adults. And most of those adults don’t see it in themselves, because no one ever held the mirror up for them. Most of those adults are from the time of “gifted is only just super-smart” and believe, as I did, that if you didn’t get perfect grades (achievement, not ability), then there was no possible way you were gifted. Most of those adults have a hard time with stress, because they never learned to manage their gifted wiring. Yes, I know that from personal experience too…mine and Tom’s.
So I ask you…what do you think about searching out a gifted designation for your kids? Because, you know, they will grow up.