My Gifted Child: “Mom, did you use unsalted butter on my bread? You know I don’t like unsalted butter; it just tastes so flat and lends no flavor to the bread. I can’t eat this. Do you have any ‘specific name brand’ butter?
Poor Mom of Gifted Child: “Uh…No” (Looking dazed and confused, and thinking who the hell can taste the difference between salted and unsalted butter on a piece of fresh, homemade rosemary bread)
Welcome to my kitchen where dinnertime seems more like the final round of CHOPPED on the Food Network, and my gifted child is much like the most critical of the CHOPPED judges on the panel, deconstructing each and every morsel of food I prepare with his discerning palate, and pointing out the lack of that one, missing grain of salt which fell to the floor while I was cooking AND rushing to open the door for the UPS man who needed me to sign for that huge package I could barely squeeze through the door. Yup, I should have grabbed that grain of salt and used it because you know, the 5-second rule is real.
Gifted children have a myriad of traits and characteristics beyond their intellectual strengths. Many have overexcitabilities. “A small amount of definitive research and a great deal of naturalistic observation have led to the belief that intensity, sensitivity and overexcitability are primary characteristics of the highly gifted.” These intensities can be emotional, imaginational, intellectual, psychomotor and sensual. The sensual overexcitability involves the senses – sight, sound, taste, touch and hearing. Not all gifted children have overexcitabilities, and if they have OE’s, they may exhibit just one or a few.
My gifted child seems to have the OE I like to call the “gifted palate”. Forget all the burdens of gifted children you have read about. Take it from me, those are all a cakewalk compared to frantically cooking in the CHOPPED kitchen everyday of your life and waiting for that judge with the gifted palate to pick apart the meal you’ve meticulously just prepared. Talk up stirring up some stress with a side of french fried fear!
I was born and raised in south Louisiana – Cajun Country. Cooking is a way of life there, and I learned to cook from the best. Let’s just say my cooking skills are pretty solid. On the flip side of the spatula, every time my child with the gifted palate sits down to take his first bite, I nervously wait for the critiquing to commence because, for my son with the tasteful “gifted palate”, my cooking has rarely made it past round one.
My Gifted Child: “Mom, when are you going to make gumbo again?”
Poor Mom of Gifted Child: “I’m not sure. I usually only make it for Christmas Eve, but maybe soon.”
My Gifted Child: “Well, when you make gumbo again, I want it to be like the one you made three Christmases ago. That was the best one you ever made! You know the one where you cut the onions and bell peppers up into 10mm squares so that there was like just small bursts of flavor, but they didn’t compete with the chicken and sausage? I want it just like that one!”
Poor Mom of Gifted Child: “Uh….okay.” (Thinking mais poo yie – Cajun French for OMG – does he really remember what something tasted like three Christmases ago? And how am I gonna reproduce that gumbo when every one I make is different because I never, ever measure anything or follow a recipe, much less measure the size of the cut-up bell peppers and onions!)
My resident food critic is discerning about food textures, food colors, temperatures of foods, how foods are seasoned, and he insists on the balance of all of these! A complex dish that combines flavors of sweet, savory, sour and spicy such as in Thai food will definitely whip up my child’s version of Restaurant Impossible, and I will inevitably end up feeling like I have been on the worst episode of Worst Cooks in America!
Do you think I’m kidding? Here’s one more: My precious “gifted palate” saunters into my kitchen, with a deep-in-thought look on his face, and he states that he is hungry for something savory with not much saltiness to it, and he feels it should be at room temperature. Really? R e a l l y?
I stand there dazed, confused and just a little perturbed and flatly state, “fix it yourself.”
BAM! My gifted child, you’ve been chopped!
Footnotes and afterthoughts:
Despite my tongue-in-cheek version of overexcitabilities, they are a real struggle for gifted children and their parents. Gifted children deal with many burdens trying to fit into school and society, and all of these burdens are real and need to be recognized and understood.
*Learn more about the burdens of the gifted here.
*Learn more about overexcitabilities from SENG – Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted:
*We have been watching and loving Food Network at our house for years, thus my references: