I have been asked one solitary question a lot over the course of my child’s rearing. This question is not so easily answered, it’s complicated. A part of me wants to tell the world that every child has the capacity to learn and absorb the same way as my child, but I have to wonder if I truly believe that myself. Still, this question constantly rings in my ears, like a tribal drum pounding out its cries, beseeching answers in the distance. How does your kid do it? The answer is always the same, “I don’t know.”
I answer this way, not because I don’t know, but because very few people truly want to hear the complexity of the answer that I would like give them. My child is gifted, and should this be my answer, it will only lead to judgement and criticism. Do I really care though? Of course I do. Every parent is sensitive to the classifications people place on their children. I know I shouldn’t care, but easier said than done. The not so simple answers to this question come with a price.
What is the price you ask? Well, alienation for starters. How does one keep one’s self from not appearing as a narcissistic parent? You know the type, “my kid” this and “my kid” that. Cue eye roll. I remember sitting next to a mom at the park and wondering if the woman ever had a horrible mom moment. How can someone’s child be so damn perfect? Impossible. How do I explain my child’s intelligence without sounding catty, or not explaining it well enough and becoming too benign?
Here goes everything…
When my child was young enough to learn how to read, I taught her. I instructed her well enough, that eventually, at a young age, she read better than me. Learning math came as easy as sitting down and snatching the candy out of my hand. My daughter picked up math without fail and without question. She can look at numbers and they just make sense. How would you feel if you were an engineer and your child questioned your mathematical inclinations? Perhaps, you are a writer and your child, who is a third of your age wrote as well as you? What would you assume? Would you assume that your child had gifts, or that they were just smart? I believe every child is gifted in some way, and/or something, but finding those gifts and honing their skill set is rarely honored.
My child has had to retest on her state proficiency tests for four consecutive years due to the district believing her to be a cheater. Can you imagine how that made her feel? We are supposed to praise kids for paying attention in class, not diminish their IQ, by imparting that they “dumb it down”. You would think after the third year, the powers that be would get clued into the fact that their tests are just too easy for her. She just gets it. Other kids struggle, this doesn’t make those kids less than because, they have other gifts. Maybe they can draw well, while my child draws stick figures.
Here is where it gets tricky. How do you, as a parent, try to enhance the idea that another parent has a gifted child in some other way. The perception is subjective at best, unless that parent is willing to find what their child is great at. I always feel like I have to compensate for another child not being able to bring to the table academically what mine brings. However, I shouldn’t have to right? My child is clumsy and awkward, yours can ballet and twirl better than any in her class, yours can intercept that football better than any other kid on his team, and mine is socially inept while yours is going to be prom queen/king.
Bottom line folks is that I have a smarty pants, that’s it, simple as it is, she is just intelligent and academically inclined. Parents be understanding that your child has abilities too. Please don’t judge my child for what she is good at because, I will never judge yours. I think what we can learn from this, is that, just like the ways our children are great, they have faults too. No one person is perfect, but we should be lifting all of our children to their highest potential Support them to be the best at whatever they are passionate about, and lastly, support one and other. Life is difficult enough without tearing each other’s children down to make ourselves feel better.