A Mother’s Letter to Her Gifted Child
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.
As 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,
P. S. I am so thankful to be hearing your funny, elaborate stories once again, and I am listening, really listening!