The title is lifted from another post. I came across it after doing a little research on what role I've played in "causing" my son's giftedness, as someone in my office was quick to tell me. Her post was in response to a Babycenter blog post, and after digesting it all, I decided I needed to document my own feelings on this matter.
We've been going through a lot of different things with Ethan lately. It's been a roller coaster for not only us but also him. He's been tossed back and forth between classes at preschool. Too smart for one class yet too socially normal for the other. Things have not been easy. And so I'm pretty emotional about the whole mess.
I understand Joyce's feelings. I really do. But I could tell her that there are days when I wonder why this happened to me. I wonder if I haven't already been through enough. I wonder why things can't just be "normal." And, of course, I realize these things are not just happening to "me." But there are days that I've prayed for normal. Do I talk about my "gifted" child? I do. To my friends. To people that I hope won't judge me and realize that I would never judge them. But I don't give just any one that knowledge because I hate "the look." There have been times, in fact, when Ethan has said something to an acquaintance and I've actually felt ashamed or embarrassed because it's something so out of the ordinary for a kid his age that they must think I forced him to learn it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I think Christi is right. If someone is bragging THAT much, then he/she is likely pushing their child to fall into the category. They've invested time and money and resources into making sure their little cherubs were prepared for whatever indicator would propel them into "gifted." I told my son that two lovely women were just going to ask him a bunch of questions to see how well he could do. Like a game.
I'm well aware that I'm an involved parent. I read to my child, I interact with my child, I encourage my child's strengths. And I truly believe in nature and nurture shaping a child. But I have never pushed my child to be more than he is. I let him guide me.
But gifted he is. And what is that anyway? And why is it viewed with such disdain by others. Why do I have to feel ashamed when speaking to other parents? Why do I have to hide my son's achievements? If he was the best kid on his soccer team would I be expected to hide that? I would say definitively no. People would expect me to brag about that. They would pat me on my back and expect me to beam with pride.
Here's the truth about having a child like Ethan. And, from what I'm learning, seems to be par for the course for parents of gifted children. It's exhausting. It's emotional. It's like wading through a river at night hoping you don't get pulled into the undercurrent. It's like having fork after fork after fork in the road and always hoping you're choosing the right damn path.
Keeping up with what he needs intellectually and emotionally is not an easy task. Understanding how to communicate with him and reason with him...a child that's reasoning skills are in the top 1%...means that I have to be on top of my game 24/7. Yes. Even at night. Because my child doesn't require the kind of sleep most kids require. And if that fountain of endless energy is not at least "worked" at some point throughout the day, well, 10:30 can come around and he'll tell you with very wide eyes, "but I'm just not tired yet." It's not a ploy to get out of going to bed. He's being honest.
Always being on top of my game to ensure he's not controlling the factors isn't easy either. Keeping up with his constant questions and his need for explanations about how the world works requires a lot of mental energy. I mean, how do I answer, "So when all the people die, is Santa still alive? Why doesn't he die? Doesn't he have a heart?" Or "Are rainbows real? In the sky? How do they work?" A response such as, "Well, they happen after it rains and the sun comes out," is hardly sufficient. Such a response it met with, "No. How do they really work? What makes a rainbow?" And he'll continue until he feels he's been given the answer he sought.
I can't describe what Ethan is like on a day-to-day basis. He is a truly amazing child and I wouldn't change him for anything in the world. His behavior? Yeah. But who he is? No. It doesn't make him any better or worse than "normal." It simply makes him Ethan. And I will always encourage his talents and gifts just as I will his brother. Just as I would if those talents were all sports related. I will always encourage my boys to live up to their potential.