Seven and a half years ago I made a very important phone call, one I was sure was going to change the course of #1’s life. You see, after giving birth and raising #1 to the ripe old age of 20 months or so, I knew, just knew, that he was profoundly gifted. Looking back, I don’t know exactly what led me to that conclusion. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was spending all my time with a toddler, and my brain was slowly shriveling up and dying, making him seem absolutely brilliant. Whatever the reason, I was raising the next Einstein, and I needed to parent him accordingly, which led me to a ridiculously embarrassing phone call.
There is a gifted school in our area, and no offense to anyone who sends his/her child there, but I’m pretty sure it’s for children who are of average intelligence and who have parents who are willing to spend exorbitant amounts of money to have the word “gifted” embroidered on the child’s backpack. I digress. Anyway, I called the school. Why? I don’t know. I believe they accept students beginning in kindergarten, which was light years away, but I didn’t know where else to turn. I was in uncharted territory, and I couldn’t find a book written by Einstein’s mother, so I called.
God bless the lady who talked to me that day because she was so kind and sincere with her advice. We had a great chat about how proficiently #1 stacked blocks and the intricate use of detail and color in his finger paintings. She knew I was a nut-job, but was kind and encouraging, nonetheless. I hung up the phone feeling the weight of my cross to bear. Parenting a precocious child would be an excruciatingly difficult task, no doubt about it.
I took my job of fostering the growth and development of a brilliant child very seriously, for about three months, until #2 was born, and I was completely exhausted, overwhelmed, and unconcerned with phonics or skip-counting with a two-year-old. However, I knew, in my heart of hearts, that he was special and amazing and soon the world would see it too.
Imagine my disappointment when we received his first standardized test scores and he fell well within the range of “average”. I cried. There was a mistake. He was nervous, hungry, tired, and he doesn’t test well, obviously. There was no other explanation. I considered taking him to a testing center for a second opinion, but decided to just wait it out. Another test would reveal his brilliance, I just knew it.
Fast forward another couple of years to today. He’s in third grade and brought home a homework assignment to address a letter. It was proving difficult, and I was getting irritated, but convinced myself that it was like asking me to figure out how to send a telegram. The kid has no dealings with mail. How dare the school try to trip-up my gifted child with these archaic homework assignments!
And then, we came to the portion of the envelope called the return address. I pointed at the line and said, “Write your name and address.”
“Your name, and then on the next line, write our street address, and then the next line will be the city, state, and zip code,” I prompted.
I may as well have been speaking a foreign language because he had no idea what I was saying. I started to break it down, and then realized, he doesn’t know his own address. At nine and a half, he couldn’t get himself home in an emergency.
“Come on buddy, what city do we live in?” I asked, trying to start with something simple.
“North America?” he hesitantly replied.
And then I knew for sure. He is not gifted. He does not need additional testing or a more challenging curriculum at a fancy school. He needs to learn his address and probably his phone number. What a relief! Parenting a gifted child was so exhausting and isolating. Luckily, I know just who to turn to with any questions about raising an average child. Mom, I’m ready for your advice.