The Upsides of Giftedness

Parenting a gifted child? Fearful about your gifted child’s education? Weary from the many issues that crop up all too often with your gifted child?

Yes, there is much to be concerned about if you are parenting a gifted child—struggling to find an appropriate education, stressing over their unique social needs, trying to deal calmly with their emotional intensities and sensitivities, and figuring out how to handle society’s oftentimes negative attitudes about giftedness—it is A LOT and I get that.

Giftedness does have some upsides, I think we should try to focus on them more.

I’ve been writing about and bringing to light all of these issues for the last two years hoping to do my part to advocate for gifted children. Then a reader sent me an email recently stating that there has to be something good about being gifted. I could almost hear her desperation when she wrote, “I really really really really need to hear that there is an upside to this gift!”

The upsides of giftedness can easily be obscured by the downsides, the dark side of giftedness, but today, we shall talk about the upsides of being gifted. We need to focus on the positives while still being mindful that there are some downsides of giftedness we all need to work together to try to change.

There are many positives to giftedness.

As a parent, raising a gifted child is much like being handed a hugely difficult challenge which promises enormous rewards along the way—kind of like climbing Mount Everest or training for an Ironman Triathlon. Big efforts, commitment, compassion, and a few super-human virtues, but the journey can be a memorable and exhilarating ride!

I’ll start the conversation about the upsides, the positives, the gifts of giftedness, and then I ask that you continue the conversation with your own upsides to giftedness, your joys, your proud moments and your thrilling experiences with your gifted child.  Leave your comments, as many upsides and positives as you would like to list or write about, and let’s make this an all out Giftedness Has Upsides Fest.

I’ll start.

I love the mental and physical energy a young gifted child has. They approach, almost attack their world with such a voracious appetite for knowing it all, figuring it all out and theorizing about the future. Those beautiful minds are bursting with thoughts and ideas so unlike their peers. One almost needs to step outside of their own box to grasp the very essence of the outside-the-box thinking of a young gifted child. Just sit back and observe and you can almost touch their mental energy.  The young gifted mind has gears that just don’t stop turning.

I have one gifted son who instantaneously, and out of the blue, creates jokes and riddles by manipulating words and facts, like a sculptor molds clay.  The telling of his new joke always seems to happen in nearly the same way each time: My son tells me an enormously funny joke. Then naturally I ask where he heard that joke, assuming someone told it to him because that is where all jokes come from—someone else. He inevitably replies, “Mom, I just made it up”, and I am, once again, caught off guard by his talent for humor. I am always amazed at his ability to think about words and their meanings and spellings in a way that a joke can be crafted out of the irony, double meaning or unique nature of a word or an idea. To me, it is like magic.

 

What do you call a fresh cut Christmas tree that drinks a lot of water?

An aquaholic.

 

What did the constipated ketchup say?

Mus-turd

 

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

I eat mop.

I eat mop who —say this a few times quickly letting the last words run together, keeping in mind a 9 year old boy made this up.

 

Yeah, well, I said he had a talent for creating jokes. I didn’t say they were all clean.

Gifted children and adults who are creativity gifted always astonish me when their creativity makes me laugh, or solves a long-standing problem or ameliorates an uncomfortable social situation. Why didn’t I think of that?, is often what I end up wondering when one of those creative gems pop out of their creatively gifted minds.

One of my gifted sons has the market cornered on creativity and humor. When he was 10 years old, he acquired a headless mannequin torso from a department store which was closing, and he found a head for it at a roadside flea market and the eyes had two pupils painted on each. Despite its creepiness, for many years, that mannequin lived an unbelievable life. Who knew a mannequin could be so useful, so fun and could create so many great memories.

Shem

For his entire high school career, the mannequin was strapped into the passenger seat of my son’s vehicle or in the bed of his truck. It’s name was Shem. Shem showed up in bathtubs behind closed shower curtains terrorizing the unsuspecting person about to step in.  Shem came dressed up to birthday parties, and Shem sometimes rode home in the passenger seat of a girlfriend (my son’s) who was afraid to drive home alone. Shem went to class in high school, sometimes hopped a ride in the backseat of a new friend’s car without asking, and relaxed in bathroom stalls, but forgot to lock the stall door. Shem did not leave for college, but he had an outstanding high school career of creatively frightening, delighting, humoring, cheering and puzzling so many unsuspecting people because of his creatively gifted custodian.

There are many more upsides to giftedness that I can mention, but not this time because now it is your turn. Tell us about your upsides of giftedness, your proudest moments, those times giftedness brought joy and happiness to you and your family.

A n d  go . . .

29 Comments on “The Upsides of Giftedness

  1. Celi,
    This is so beautifully written, and such an important point. We all love our children, but those of us with gifted children are often amazed at the remarkable things they do. I know that I was often in awe of some of my kids’ passion for their interests, their ability to grasp certain things so easily and certain talents that emerged seemingly effortlessly. Thanks for bringing up this important topic.
    Gail

    • Yes, they amaze us and so often as parents, we don’t get the chance to bring to light their talents and strengths. I wanted to give parents a chance to focus on the upsides. Thank you so much, Gail.

  2. I absolutely love the idea of vocalizing the positive aspects of giftedness. As a community, advocating for our children often requires shining the light on the dark side of giftedness but as a parent and gifted adult it’s refreshing to sometimes remember the gifts that come along with this uphil trek. Even OE’s can make for some wonderful memories and hilarious situations! Thank you so much for reminding me that this side needs to exposed as well.

  3. How do you get them to hone in on their talents? My 11 year old son is quite the practical joker. Often, he can be funny and witty. I enjoy his ability to make me laugh on a regular basis – but how do I teach him to use his powers for good and not evil?
    He’ll get his brothers all up in arms in no time flat. Teaching him that time and place are important factors to observe before playing a trick has proven difficult.
    Any suggestions?
    Maybe I should buy him a mannequin. 🙂

    • OH, yes, I remember repeating those words of advice over and over about time, place, and not everyone thinks what you are doing is funny. We just had many, many discussions about when it is appropriate and when it is not, being careful not to break their spirit or creativity. It is a balancing act.

      And that darn mannequin–we still have it, but it is in storage. I did take Shem out this past Christmas when my son came home for the holidays–I put it in his shower for old times’ sake 😉

      • Ah – then that’s what I’ll continue to do – and I will certainly look into getting him a mannequin. Seriously. He’d probably LOVE it.

        I’ve been known to buy him books like ‘Mad Libs’ or joke books for kids – but that doesn’t seem to do much other than get him in the mood to be a prankster.

        It’s all a work in progress!

  4. I’m so glad you posted this. I’m a longtime lurker/reader of gifted blogs, and as someone who loves being gifted and loves my gifted kids, craziness and all, sometimes I have to take a break from reading because of what feels like an intensely negative focus. I get it, we have the intensity and persistence and OEs and insomnia and anxiety and food allergies here too, but I feel so amazingly blessed to get to parent these crazy kids. I love their quickness, their persistence in what they believe in (except, you know, when I don’t), their exuberance. I love that my daughter and I have been singing our conversations to each other since she was 22 months old, and am amazed by the fluency with which she can shape her message to the appropriate number of syllables and melodic flow. I love that my oldest will never remember NOT being able to read, just like me, and that she can recite every line from every movie she’s ever seen, just like her dad. It’s amazing.

    Maybe it’s because I’m an optimist, or maybe because my job as a pediatrician gives me a quick little window into other people’s lives, and helps me keep my perspective. My youngest has a minor orthopedic issue for which she receives care at a major orthopedic referral center. Last month I found myself explaining to my 6 year old why there were adult-sized changing tables with privacy curtains in the bathroom. Nothing like re-centering my perspective on what was otherwise a very challenging, intense day.

    I think maybe what helps me the most: I like and accept myself, and I want to model that for my children. I really believe that if we do our job well, along with getting help from whoever we need along the way, they will eventually grow up to manage their own exceptionalities just like we do.

  5. Oh gosh, where do I start?
    I love his spirit. I love how he never gives up on an idea. I love how funny he is. I love how I can almost see his brain working when he’s pondering something. I love his spontaneity, his joy. I love his creativity. Watching him paint or draw or create is one of my most favorite things on earth. I love the love he has for his siblings, how he shares his love of reading and various interests with them while they are all snuggled up in his room. I love the way he mispronounces the words he reads but never says aloud. I love how he never stops moving, even in his sleep. He wakes up in a twisty tornado-boy bed. I love his love of reading. I love how he mourns a good book. I love how he never stops talking. And, lately, I love how much he has taught me in short time.

    PS. Shem is AWESOME.

  6. Love it!

    For me, personally, the upside is that I’m never behind – unless I plan to be. I make incredible intuitive leaps, and they’re right probably 95% of the time. I live many lives in books, and can feel everything the characters feel – and some things they probably feel, but nobody calls out. It’s an incredible way to go through life, and while I also expect people to be just like me (which is a downside, ’cause they so rarely ever are!), I find that having my own twist on life is something I wouldn’t trade.

    For Mad Natter, there isn’t a day that goes by that he isn’t teaching me something new. He’s full of life and spark and imagination, and he is honing his logical leaping skills to rival my own. He’s intense and charismatic, he loves everyone and has a fire that if he takes up politics or acting will mean he makes a fortune.

    It’s a fun, exciting, never-boring way to live – even if we don’t get to talk about the upsides much, lest we be accused of bragging. x.x;

    • I just had the biggest smile on my face while reading your comment, Care. I love your twist on life! You and Mad Natter keep leaping ahead! Thanks, Care 🙂

  7. I love the way both of my boys (6 & 8) make my life never boring. They ask interesting questions like why do wars start and then really want answers not watered down kid versions. I love that they love to travel explore and even visit museums as much as I do. They are constantly craving more information. After a summer trip visiting a number of sites they both learned more about Lewis and Clark than most adults. I love their fascination with dragons and even their obsession with mine craft because I’ve learned to view it as logos without surprises to step on in the middle of the night. I love how my older son will lose himself in a book even as people literally jump over him. I love the intensity that my younger son feels music and dance. I once borrowed Lord of the Dance from the library. He started watching it without me but insisted I rewind and start it from the beginning with him. He watched many times again before we had to return it. I love the way he knows music that is performed well and appreciates it. Kid music is usually torture for him. Classical and piano are heavenly to his ears. I love the way I can talk with my boys about so many subjects without needing to dumb it down for them. I love the jokes that my 8 year old makes up or puns he creates. I love how incredibly computer literate my boys are for their age. There are many other things I love about them. How they love to snuggle or have me scratch their back to calm down. How we have our own little communication system. I love watching as they both mature. And learn about themselves. My older son has figured out that getting up early gives him alone time which he enjoys. I could go on and on with the positives of my boys even beyond the aspects that sometimes cause frustrations including their ADHD and my younger son struggling with dyslexia so that he has not yet learned to read. They both have high self esteems and know that they can do whatever they decide they want to do.

    • Shannon, the love and awe is so evident in what you wrote about your boys. So beautiful!

      That they both have high self-esteem is SO, SO important, and that is really the best part!

      Thank you so much for sharing about your wondrous sons, Shannon!

      • Thanks. They are such incredible boys. I could go on for just as long about the struggles we have related to sensory issues, ADHD, and trying to find the best ways for them to learn, but I prefer to focus on the positives. I often refer to them as rollercoaster kids. Their abilities are so varied from one subject to another that its like a roller coaster, but I think having neurotypical kids would be boring. I’m so glad that I have them as my boys and that they have me as a mom with the knowledge to guide their energy in the right directions. I can’t wait to see what they will be when they grow. Right now my best guess would be that my older son will become a computer programmer and that my younger son will become a musician, but they change so much day by day that there is no way to know. Thank you for reminding us of the positives in our children.

        • Thanks to you, Shannon, for letting us know about you wondrous boys and inspiring us with your positive outlook.

          Funny, you should say roller coaster! I use the roller coaster metaphor in my new book coming out next month! Because life with gifted children is like a roller coaster–thrilling but scary, unexpected yet fun. Gifted kids remind me of the Rock’n Roller Coaster at Disney World!

          And you are welcome to go on and on about your boys! We love hearing it!

  8. My children allow me to look at the world anew – a comment from my younger ‘I love this time of the morning; the way the light and shadows play on the trees’ Their passion for music, their enquiring minds – all the questions I have never thought of! Even the enjoyment of the feel of a particular fabric. When younger, the creation of a new language. I also learn from their sense of fairness and justice and the real hurt they feel when they see this balance is not right. Thank you for this opportunity to share.

  9. Great read, thank you so much! I love it how my boys are so intensely interested in everything to do with nature and the world around them. I adore it that they like to watch David Attenborough programmes. I love it that I can talk to my oldest like he’s an adult and he gets me and our silly little jokes! I love his quirkiness. I respect his ability to disagree with any non thought through responses, usually a comment a stranger makes. I love the energy and almost watching his brain tick over with new ideas. It’s lovely to be positive!

    • Yes, it is lovely to be positive. Your boys sound so awesome.

      “I love the energy and almost watching his brain tick over with new ideas.” It’s so true, you can almost see their brains working.

      Thank you Angela for sharing your upsides with us!

  10. I love how my son sees beauty in EVERYTHING – even the different layers of tar in the pavements! I love how he gets so involved in books that he often doesn’t want to take them back to the library when they’re finished. I love how he talks to his grandad on the phone for hours about what they’ve been doing this week and whether vacuum cleaners would work in space! I love how he can’t listen to any type of music without wanting to move his body. I love how he truly doesn’t care about losing as long as it’s been a “good” game. I love how I never have to entertain him because he has never once been bored (although I do have to constantly think of ways for him to safely and cost-effectively discover more about whatever he is currently curious about). I love how he is genuinely interested in talking to ANYONE who will converse with him on his level. And most of all, I love that he is teaching me so much about myself, and constantly challenging me to be the best mum for him that I can possibly be, and that he continuously forgives me when I fail.

    • What a sweetheart you have, Jo! Our gifted kids are truly amazing.

      “I love how he talks to his grandad on the phone for hours about what they’ve been doing this week and whether vacuum cleaners would work in space!” I can picture this so well–so precious!

      Jo, thank you for sharing your upsides with us. Everyone’s upsides have been so motivating and moving and inspirational. How lucky are we!?

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