Almost a year ago, when my son Bruce was still in regular-ed Kindergarten, I was at my wits end. I knew in my heart that there was something extremely different about Bruce, and that he was most likely highly gifted, but my husband and I were still waiting for the results of his evaluations. In the meantime, it seemed like each new day presented new opportunities for us all to be miserable, in ways that often resulted in high anxiety, huge explosions, and public humiliation.
By contrast, my daughter Jenna who was a toddler at the time, spouted please and thank you without prompting, and gave out spontaneous hugs. Our problems with Bruce were not related to bad parenting, even though from the outside looking in, other people might have been quick to blame my husband and me.
Bruce’s Kindergarten teacher (a really nice, and hard-working lady), kept telling me “I’ve only ever seen one other student like Bruce before in my twelve years of teaching.” My mother-in-law said, “Your husband had already calmed down by this age.” My own mother said “You only threw two tantrums in your whole life!” And Bruce? With his words he told me, “Mommy, I don’t want to go to school anymore,” and with his actions he told me that he was freakin’ miserable. All of his shirt collars were chewed up and his fingers were raw. There was such a mismatch between what his intellect was capable of doing, and what his five year-old-maturity level was capable of expressing, that he was in deep sorrow.
Out of true desperation I thought of the smartest, wildest, craziest boy I knew growing up in the San Diego School District’s Seminar Program for highly gifted youth. Then, I emailed his mother, “Help me Mrs. G. Please help me, because I am failing my child. There is nobody I can talk to who understands the situation like you would. What should I do?”
Mrs. G immediately emailed me back and gave me phone numbers of people I could talk to, including people who worked with SENG. She also told me that I was going to be an advocate for Gifted Education, and that I was going to speak up for children like our sons.
The phone numbers and links to SENG were great, but become an advocate for Gifted Education? What the heck! Maybe I could have done that when I was a teacher, or a summer school principal, but now I was *just* a stay at home mom. I had given up my voice, so that I could be there for my children…or had I?
About a month later I started Teaching My Baby to Read with the intention of helping parents ensure that their children are academically advantaged regardless of age, ability or socioeconomic level. As an added bonus, blogging has also allowed me to speak up on behalf of the importance of Gifted Education.
Those of you are regular readers of my blog know that my son Bruce is a happy, well-adjusted first grader in a Gifted Education program today. He has amazing teachers who understand him, friends who are just as intense as he is, and Bruce no longer feels the need to chews up his shirts. My husband and I have a lot more support now, because we have other parents to talk to, both in-person and online. The SENG website and conference we attended last year have also been amazing resources for our entire family, grandparents included.
Recently I read a very nasty attack of gifted families on BabyCenter.com. Let this blog post serve as my retort.