A Mother’s Letter to Her Gifted Child

DuckieMe3blog

My child, my wonderfully different child,

I love you.  Above all else, I love you.  From the moment you were born, I knew that you were different, wonderfully different although I didn’t know yet that your wonderful differences would bring you such heartache throughout your childhood.  And for that I am truly sorry.

As a baby, you amazed me by your attention and alertness and exuberance.  Before you were a year old, you spoke to me in complete sentences, and I kept a list of your rapidly growing vocabulary.  By the time you turned two, you knew your numbers, letters, colors and shapes.  I thought it was a fluke, but when you went to your little early learning school at two years old, your teacher mentioned to me that she thought you were gifted.  I assumed she was just being nice.  I’m sorry, I should have really listened to her, but I had already been experiencing the envy and skepticism of other moms.  I was asked so many times, “Do you work with him? How did you teach him everything he knows? With flash cards or workbooks?”  I was uncomfortable and I always played down your intelligence.  I told them truthfully, I did not teach you anything.  I knew they didn’t believe me.

Do you remember the year I went back to work and you had to go to daycare?  I know you do because you still talk about the playground equipment at your little nursery school.  You were almost three years old.  Your teachers often called me in for conferences because you were always talking and telling elaborate stories.  I loved your funny, detailed stories, but your teachers said you were telling your stories to purposely divert your classmates’ attention away from them when they were trying to teach.  You were three years old and halfway through the school year when you were moved into the four-year-old class just to curb your story telling.  There, you were allowed to read to your classmates and you learned your addition facts there, too.

At four years old, your pre-k teacher told me, “you know he is gifted, right?”  I’m so sorry; again I didn’t listen.  I was just too afraid to face the jealousy, the rolling eyes and the inevitable, “everybody thinks their child is gifted!”.  Your first grade teacher asked that I have you tested for ADD because you were always talking and telling your famous stories.  I did and the psychologist said you did not have ADD, but he did warn me about something.  He said that at five years old, you were able to hold complex conversations with adults, and he said that throughout your childhood, you would run into adults and teachers who would be intimidated by you and maybe they would treat you unkindly.  He said at five years old, you felt more comfortable in the presence of adults.  How did he see so clearly what your future held?

Through your elementary years, your wonderful differences made you a victim of bullying by both children and adults.  I even had a neighbor tell me, “It must be really hard for you to find friends for him because of the way he is”.  If I had only accepted then that you were gifted, I could have been more prepared to help you through the struggles of finding friends who understood you and dealing with neighborhood adults who yelled at you to stop talking.  I’m sorry you had to be hurt like that.

 

talkingLouisvilleblog2As you entered middle school, bullying by classmates got worse, but bullying by teachers who were intimidated by you, and who did not understand you, nearly destroyed you.  Finally I got it.  Finally I accepted the fact that you were gifted, and giftedness sucks for many kids.  You were gifted and school was not a good place for you.  I brought you home to heal.

My gifted child, I’m sorry your giftedness has brought you such pain, and bullying, and jealousy, and misunderstanding.  I promise your giftedness will one day be something you will be thankful for, but I know right now it doesn’t seem that way.  As a gifted teen, I know giftedness feels lonely, awkward, and a curse.  I swear, it is not because there is something wrong with you, it is because those who do not understand giftedness feel the need to cut you down and to put you in your place.  Many times they just think you are arrogant or a know-it-all.  If you can just hang in there until, until the day when you are an adult among adults, your giftedness then may not be such a struggle, and maybe then you can stop hiding your wonderful differences.

Be proud of who you are!  I know I am.  You are a fighter.  You have suffered because of your giftedness at the hands of some pretty uncaring and insensitive people, but you are trying to look beyond what they have done because you know they do not understand, or they are jealous.  Remember, like I always told you, God is just giving you this struggle now so you can grow stronger when your strength is needed.  And when you grow up, you will be resilient and better able to not let the jealousy and meanness get to you.  Be proud of who you are.  I know I could not be more proud of you.

I love you.  I love your funny, elaborate stories.  I love your strength.  I love your wonderful differences.  I love you, my gifted child.

 

All my love,

Your mom

 

P. S. I am so thankful to be hearing your funny, elaborate stories once again, and I am listening, really listening!

 

Comments

  1. This gave me goosebumps. We have gone down an eerily similar path – but escaped much of the pain because we brought ours home in 2nd and 3rd grade. I remember at the time, pulling them from school and thinking about how terrible it all was, but still having the feeling that it was happening for a reason and that one day I would look back at it and think it was a good thing. Your letter has brought me to that moment – had that not happened my kids would still be in school and they would still be dealing with the things your son dealt with.

    • Jen, I wish schools were a good place for gifted kids, but they are not. I wish I had had the strength to bring him home much sooner! I promise having your children home was the right choice! I know kids have to struggle to learn to be strong and to overcome bumps in the road, but at some point the struggles just break them.

      And I love reading your blog about all your family’s homeschooling fun! Love it!

  2. Thank you. I read this to my almost 10- year-old son and I cried. He hugged me and said, ‘Thank you. Now I know I’m not the only one.” He’s recently experienced the first peer-to-peer bullying and it was devastating to both of us. Thank you.

  3. I was like your child and my mom was like you. Now, as an adult, I find myself making those tough decisions regarding my gifted son. We are blessed to have a wonderful public school system that serves gifted kids, so I don’t have to homeschool. He has been accelerated and doesn’t have any problems with bullies. Most of the kids in his class think it’s pretty cool that he’s seven wrapping up third grade, and he has a great number of friends with his same interests, who are also gifted. I hope that we can someday get to a point where our situation is the rule, and not the exception.

    • Cyndi, your son’s situation is exactly how it should be, and that is what we all need to keep advocating for. It is so encouraging to know that school systems can get it right; if some can, then they all can! Thank you for sharing how wonderful your son’s school is! It gives us all hope!

  4. Words cannot express the emotions I felt when I read this-goosebumps. Sad. Disgust. Unfortunate reality! Someday it will change! It has to!

    • It was a difficult one to write; dredging up old wounds and being reminded of all that he has been through! Even if people do not understand giftedness, they can at least be respectful to a child! It does need to change, and thanks for sharing your story in your wonderful blog; you are part of the change that is gonna come!!!

  5. I, too, was in denial of my child’s giftedness. I also thought that everyone thinks their child is smart and that the gap would close. It didn’t. It became wider. I looked into SPD, ADHD, Aspergers, ODD. Finally took him in for an assessment. Nope, he’s a gifted child stuck in the box of public school. Was given many resources and was in a puddle of tears because I was so busy trying not to be in denial of all the other things, I missed what it truly was. Giftedness is a special need. Their brains work differently. It isn’t all about being smart, learning fast, retaining an insane amount of info. There is so muchore to it. I do get frustrated with the eye rollers because life in our house is not perfect. My child’s life isn’t going to be perfect just because he is smart. He battles anxiety, perfectionism, sensitivities that can be paralyzingly to him. The eye rollers have no idea how much I can envy them having a typical child with typical issues.
    I’m sorry your little man endured so much. I understand your hurt. I’m so happy he is home now so you can both heal. It may have taken longer than you wished it had, but you did hear it. Hugs!

    • Your words have been so comforting to me! It is ALWAYS so validating to hear someone else share their story which is so similar to mine, and similar to too many gifted families! And although it is validating, it is so heartbreaking! I just hope one day there will be more understanding of what giftedness really is! Sharing your story helps all of us! Many, many thanks!

    • I know exactly what you mean. I was in denial too until February of his 2nd grade year. That’s when I read “The Edison Trait” and suddenly it all made sense. He was my first born; I thought this was the way kids were. But when the school agreed to test him then refused to accelerate him, we pulled him out. Better late than never, right?

  6. So sad that this is such a common experience. Giftedness should be a gift, not a door to a life of frustration.

    But: cutest “baby in a bathtub” picture ever!

  7. Jessica Hawk-Tillman says:

    This is my son’s path (he’s almost 10). When I read your words, I wept. Thank you for sharing so beautifully the struggle these children experience. He’s trying to find his way, and we’re doing our best to guide him. So, so hard, when he (and we) should be learning and growing!

    • Yes, Jessica, it is a hard journey which is all the more difficult because so many believe we have it easier than others, not harder. All the best on your journey – you’re not alone!

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