Whoever chose the word “gifted” sure had a sense of humor.
Being called gifted is ironic because giftedness holds many unexpected surprises. Who doesn’t like to receive a gift? Everyone does; but peeking inside is when the real adventure begins. There are no give backs with this one. For better or worse, your gifted child is stuck with all of the dreads and sorrows as well as the highs and exhilaration that come with giftedness. The trick is finding and focusing on the good.
Make no mistake, giftedness isn’t something you can learn- it’s who you are. Giftedness is a package. You get a mix of everything inside. Gifted children, unfortunately get to learn all of this on the go; usually with little help and understanding from the adults in their lives. If you’re reading this, your child might be one of the lucky ones, but there are probably days when you’d still like to return this “gift”. Good luck with that.
Let’s pick 4 of the biggies. These are the gifts that most days you’d be willing to stand in line to return. Yes, you’d happily go schlepping to the post office or FedEx through a blizzard because to be rid of them would bring you peace. These gifts aren’t appreciated by most people and make you wonder if the whole gifted package is really worth keeping.
(Spoiler alert: It is.)
Your child is up all night, with too much time to think, and curiosity has run amuck.
Does this really sound like a gift to you; wondering when and how you’re going to die and whether or not you’ll see your pet goldfish again? Reading about parallel universes only help these kids wonder more. Tell me this: Why must it all happen after the Late Late Show?
Why do they question themselves, family and friends, and very often, their purpose for being? It propels them forward, but also holds them back. It segregates and separates them from others, yet also fulfills them. Their angst sets them apart and simultaneously unites them; all without anyone realizing the depths of their thoughts. Gifted children struggle with feelings of loneliness and being set apart from others. Support and understanding is the best we can give them. That and a healthy sense of self should carry them through those questioning days. These children are the thinkers, the planners, the movers and shakers, and the visionaries. They see the possibilities that can make life better. They understand things that others don’t and never will. Every great gift comes with strings attached.
Puns, metaphors, and dual meaning jokes- ALL. THE. TIME.
Your child almost insists that you speak to him like an adult. Childish humor is short-lived, and “potty humor” is minimal with these kids, thank goodness (okay, except Captain Underpants). Being witty is fun. Yes, your child actually DOES enjoy scientific humor. It triggers a pleasant experience. It’s exciting to somehow be “in the know” as a kind of a secret society. Taking pleasure in secret knowledge isn’t meant to build a wall, but it’s more like a secret handshake or secret password to enter a world where gifted kids feel quite at home; quite comfortable for who they are. People who understand their wit, truly understand them; and that’s quite comforting too.
Helping children to be inclusive when someone doesn’t understand a joke is only part of the struggle with a gifted child’s humor. The other struggle is that a gifted child’s brand of humor usually doesn’t go over well with most kids. That’s why you’ll often notice them performing GKS (Gifted Kid Standup) for an adult. A captivating audience (no matter the age) is affirming. Though it may not be what you were hoping for, someone out there will laugh. Your child may just have to look a little harder than most for those special people who appreciate a unique blend of humor.
Kuiper Belt, Fibonacci Sequence, and the dictionary. At least one of these is fascinating to a gifted child.
A gifted child’s intellect is the core of what separates her from others. That being said, it is unavoidable, yet also greatly diminished in the eyes of societal associations. It becomes inconsequential at the school football game or craft show, yet it’s unavoidably there, lurking behind the scenes itching to come out. It’s who she is. It’s unavoidable for that very reason. It just… happens. Often it happens at an inopportune time and place and our children can wind up feeling stupid, not superior. Other times, it’s well- placed and well-received and we watch our children glow with the knowledge that they have someone who is interested and understands.While we don’t want our children to brag about their intellect, please do not ever ask your child to deny her knowledge.The practice of “dumbing down” is a futile attempt to fit in and usually results in feeling even more left out. So, let her rattle off her latest entomology stats and just smile.
Quiet down and please stop hugging me.
Our children openly and often demonstrate their intensities, or overexcitabilities. We can attempt to quash them or we can support our children with the idiosyncrasies that make them different, but also make them their own true, unique selves. Our children are exhausting. There’s no use denying it. They constantly ask us to understand and guide them to reach their goals. They hug us when we do not wish to be hugged for the hundredth time each day and beg for our constant support as if our well is filled by only their dreams. We invent games for them to tire them out and then sleep well, ourselves. We teach them to count to ten when frustration is brewing, breathe slowly, try a bit of the foods they’ll probably spit out anyway, and buy them socks that don’t itch. Ours are the homes with stacks of cardboard, paint, wood, and fabric to fuel those imaginations.
We give our all because we know and understand that our children are not only our future, but perhaps, THE future. It’s a huge, tiring, fulfilling responsibility. These intensities are probably the most frustrating, yet special mix in our children. If you’re attentive, your child’s mix can give you insights to help support him and to use those intensities as assets; instead of liabilities.
Remember to devote time not only to figuring out and supporting your gifted child, but also to taking care of yourself. You’re taking on a unique responsibility and have received a one-of-a-kind gift; your child. So, while your child’s gifts may some days be exhausting, frustrating, and confusing, they all come wrapped in a beautiful package labeld with a name you chose, delivered on the day he was born.