The Afflictions of Raising a Gifted ChildSelena Mills
I suppose we’ve known for a while.
When your 2 1/2-year-old is reading, which turns into shaping letters with their chubby little hands, which turns into writing by 3 years old… well, you know your kid is more than a little bit smart. And it isn’t the most awesome feeling that one might imagine. Well, at first it is, until that day in kindergarten, when you get the finger. Again and again and again.
You know, the come hither finger from your kid’s teacher, accompanied by a slightly cocked head and serious look. That’s what happened a couple of weeks ago as I stood by the gate, waiting for the bell to ring, waiting for my boy to come barreling out his classroom door. That first wag of his teacher’s finger immediately sent me back to my own years in primary school. And every time thereafter that I’ve gotten it, I cringe with a tepid expectation. I got that finger an awful lot when I was a kid. We all did, right? Perhaps some of us more than others.
What I’m beginning to learn is that the “trouble-makers” and the challenging ones aren’t always who you might think they are. They look just like my sweet, charming, super-smart kid whose heart and body perhaps haven’t caught up to his brainy brain.
They’re just like my son, a 4-year-old kid who attends full-time kindergarten with a slew of mates nearly a year older than him. Back in August, we wondered whether we should start our boy in school or hold him back a year so he wasn’t behind everyone else emotionally and socially. All because of when his birthday falls.
The thing is, he’s ahead of most of his classmates when it comes to reading and writing and, in some ways, leadership. But where he’s having trouble is his emotional and social development.
It was a series of beckoning fingers, occurring with increasing frequency the past six weeks or so that led to an inevitable sit down we had last week with Wyndham’s teacher.
She reiterated what she’s told us before, that he’s reading and writing at a grade 2 level, that we should start to think now about the inevitability of being asked if we want him to skip a grade or two down the road.
And as much as I want to provide every opportunity for my son’s academic advancement in an environment where he isn’t bored, where he is in fact challenged… he’s still my little boy.
He’s a very sensitive little boy. I want his development — and the nurturance of that development — to be a large focus, too. His emotional and social development are just as important to me as his intellectual development. I think there are other opportunities that we can provide him with: extra-curricular group-based experiences, one-on-one tutoring perhaps and home-based learning experiences such as what we’ve already been doing. But I don’t want to push too hard.
I can’t say I have it all figured out, and my heart is speaking to me louder right now than any voice of reasoning about academic advancement.
I fear that right now my little guy is struggling with how to be comfortable in his own skin around his peers and being the weird kid — the one who always puts his hand up to answer the questions, but who gets really upset when he doesn’t get picked. His brain doesn’t exactly meet up with his heart and it’s my job to make sure that I do everything I can to make that lot in life as stable as I can, right?
I’m grasping here.
Are there any parents out there with gifted kids who are struggling emotionally and socially? If so, help a sister out. What have you done? What works for your child? I’m all ears. Because right now, that’s my kid up there, who passes out everyday after school from the exhaustion that comes naturally with his 4-year-old body and heart. His brain may be racing a mile a minute, but it’s pretty clear right now that all he wants (and needs) are our hugs, kisses, rest, reassurance and attention that most 4-year-olds want.
I was actually hesitant to publish this, for fear that I would be labeled “that parent,” or even more irrationally yet, that I was somehow humble-bragging because my kid is gifted.
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Selena is a crafty, culinary mom. Regular writer here and on Disney Baby. Part-time mischief maker, all-time geek. Elsewhere on the Internets… via her humble beginnings, mastering in general mayhem: le petit rêve