I’m sorry to bother you, but I had to tell you something.
I see you.
I see your son, too.
I see him, sprawled on the pavement, reading The Hobbit, completely engrossed and unaware of what is going on around him. I bet if you called his name right now he wouldn’t hear you.
He’s… what…. four or five years old?
I know you hate that question because you think you know what I’m thinking right now. You fear I’m judging you. But here’s the thing: I see you, and I see him. I believe you when you say you didn’t teach him how to read, and that you don’t use a reading program at home.
Recognizing giftedness in others…
I know you can’t keep a kid like that in books. They read them as if they need them for survival, as if books were oxygen. Do the librarians know your name? Do you bring a laundry basket to the library twice a week, too?
I can see the intensity in his eyes. His emotions are almost palpable, aren’t they? Is he a perfectionist, too? Does he embarrass you in public with his volume, his energy, the tantrums that he has yet to outgrow? Do you get those looks from other parents, and feel their silent judgment? Don’t worry, you’ll grow a thick skin in short time.
I see him, twisting and twirling, jumping and leaping, running and climbing, talking all the while. He’s never still, never silent, is he? Does he run full throttle until sleep somehow, eventually, sneaks up on him and grabs hold of his insatiable little mind? Have you heard of overexcitabilities? You should look them up because I’m sure you’ll find some solace there.
I know how tired you are. It’s hard to keep up with a kid like that. It feels impossible to keep him engaged, content, fulfilled. I bet you sit in silence at the end of the day with your ears ringing. It’s a beautiful thing to have a momentary break from the questions. How many times did you have to Google today, mama? I hope you are taking care of yourself.
I can see the shadow of worry in his eyes. I see him jump at those unfamiliar noises, I can almost see his mind pondering those BIG questions, the unanswerable ones. Does he wake you up at two in the morning with his philosophical musings? Is he supremely sensitive?
Are you supremely sensitive, too? I ask because I recognize the worry in your eyes. You’re wondering if he’ll be okay. You worry if he’ll find his community. You worry how you’re going to do this. Should you have him tested, will people believe you then? How will a school meet his needs? How will you meet those needs? What if he surpasses you? What if he already has? It’s okay to make non-traditional and atypical choices with this child. He’s non-traditional and atypical, isn’t he? Trust your gut.
C’mon, you know it’s not typical for a 5-year-old to become so engrossed in The Hobbit that he can’t hear your words. I know you’re wondering about that g-word. Just say it, mama: GIFTED. Do you know what? If you’re thinking it, if your gut is screaming at you, he IS. He is gifted. It’s okay to say the word. You should start practicing because with practice it gets easier. And, with practice, you make it easier for those who will travel this path after you. There are far too many myths about giftedness out there, let’s put an end to them.
You’re doing fine. You both are. But you’re going to need help on this journey. You’re going to need a support network of people who have been there. You need to meet other parents that are on this path, too. They are out there but, like you, they’re afraid to talk about it.
He’s going to need to find his peeps, too. This can be harder at this age. There are resources. There are other kids his age like him, trust me. You have to find them. Make it your quest to find them. If there isn’t a local group, create one for yourself. You’ll both be so grateful.
You’ll both find your people in time, I promise. You’ll see that your normal is normal for others, too. You aren’t alone. Did you hear me, mama? You aren’t alone.
It’s a rollercoaster of a ride. Sometimes you’ll love it: You’ll both beam joyfully at the fun of it all. Other times won’t be so fun: You’ll white-knuckle it, close your eyes, and utter a prayer.
Welcome to the wild, wonderful, zany world of parenting poppies. Grab a cup of coffee and your sense of humor, and sit back and enjoy the ride! (And, once you’ve digested all of this, let’s talk about this guy’s younger sister because I see her, too.)