Giftedness is Very Real

There I said it! My Son is gifted!

Unlike Autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome or Dyslexia, Giftedness is something we don’t talk about. It’s something we dare not utter a word about because when we do we are shouted down for boasting and being proud. (As we see the author of “I Hate Hearing About Your Gifted Child” just did.) Thank you Laughing at Chaos , AwayFromTheOven and LifeWithinIntensity for your inspiring blog replies. They made me ralise it’s time for me to be bold enough to let others to hear from us too.

I am not sure why people feel so judged and threatened by gifted children when in fact that’s just who they are. They function differently from the rest of us and see and hear the world from an entirely different perspective. Why is different so intimidating and somehow wrong?
It’s how you think, how you perceive and how you breath. Being gifted isn’t something you can turn on and off, it isn’t something you can work hard at and become, it isn’t being talented or skilled in an area such as sport or music. Instead it’s just who you are.

Gifted children are not at the top of the class, they often the “plebs” who’ve been misdiagnosed with ADHD and are sitting on Ritalin. They are often the trouble makers and those just skimming through each grade. These are not children to be threatened by instead they are an endangered species that we need to save. These children are able to offer so much and yet we are pushing them aside, discriminating against them and drugging them. So many resources are available for Learners with Special Needs – who battle through the system and yet there are none available for my learner with special needs.

He began reading at 22 months, when he was 5 he was reading encyclopedias. I called a school to enroll him in grade 1. I asked what they would do with him while the others learned to read their response, “He’ll just need to suck it up and wait for the others to catch up.”

So we homeschool – by choice – well yes… Until I hit a real wobbly last year and wanted to send them all to school. Again a phone call. “I have a 9 year doing grade 7 maths and high school reading and language.

Can we enroll him next year?” Reply: “Well, he’ll need to go into grade 4 and we’d try extend him but he’ll need to do grade 4.” Imagine! That’s like telling a 3rd year varsity student that they need to go back and start varsity over again. So yes we love homeschooling but it’s no longer only by choice, we are kind of out of options.

When saying my day is tough other homeschoolers have turned around and said, “but at least your child reads what do you have to complain about?” Well my gifted child is reading – but he reads anything and everything he lays his eyes on. That includes billboards, newspapers and the Bible. Maybe that sounds like a dream, but is it? When your child is 5 and having sleepless nights because of world hunger or trying to understand death and eternity at 3 years of age. How do you explain to a 6 year old about government taxes and the economy crashing when he wants to know about why the government is repossessing houses? The best yet is trying to explain God’s judgment, justice and grace to a 5 year old.

How about seeing the world only as black or white. Everything is either good or bad. There is no grey. Everything has to be justified and fair. The rules, every rule needs to be kept. The world is so loud and bright and the sensory overload can be so great that melt downs are apart of ones reality. One who needs to move to think. The pressure of thinking one needs to be perfect and not being able to sleep at night as their mind is so alive. So the list continues.

The intensity so great that Mom and Dad fall into bed exhausted every night. And they say siblings are usually not far behind each other. As our little ones are growing they may not fall into the profoundly gifted category, like their brother, but they too are following close behind. Can you imagine to intensity of these little people trying to all help me make supper, tell me about their day or work on an art project? No it’s not horrid just very noisy, opinions flying, conversations heated and everything being analysed. Nothing can just be “because it just is.” But why?


Looking at just a few of the gifted “symptoms” mentioned above would it make everyone feel better if I say my son has a “syndrome.” May I mention that besides doing grade 7 maths, he’s just finishing writing his first novel at 9 and that he’s busy building a birding website, he plays the violin beautifully, he writes wonderful poetry and he is the most amazing big brother. Or am I only allowed to dwell on his “syndrome symptoms?” We have been blessed with an amazing little boy who is tender hearted and loves with his whole heart – another symptom I suppose: Gifted children either do something completely or not at all.

For 9 years I have kept quiet but I can’t let others tear down something so beautiful and pure as the gifted child – without which there’d be no Mozart, theory of relativity or Starry Night. Just as I see every human as a unique creation by God and rejoice in who they are, don’t see our gifted children as a threat, simply see them for the beautiful people they are and celebrate that you too may one day benefit from what they have to offer this world.

So just aswe need to raise our voices to save the rain forests so we need to raise our voices to save the Gifted Child who is just like everyone else – just wants to be accepted and loved for who they are. Instead of trying to box them and feel threatened by something new just try to understand the gifted child and you maybe pleasantly surprised with what you find!

Pearl Buck sums giftedness in the most beautiful way….

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: 

A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. 

To him… 

a touch is a blow, 

a sound is a noise, 

a misfortune is a tragedy, 

a friend is a lover, a joy is an ecstasy, 

a lover is a god, 

and failure is death. 

Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – – – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.”


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Homeschooling Rocks

Whenever anyone questions me on our decision to homeschool I find myself trapped between a rock and a hard place. I believe it is right for our family and could spend hours discussing the benefits homeschooling has poured into our lives. However, at the same time I realise others have different convictions and are in a different place, therefore they may choose to view our choice to homeschool as a criticism or judgement on them. For this reason I usually hold a fairly neutral ground regarding the benefits of homeschooling and stick to, “it’s what works for us.”

Last night however lifted my heart and soul to such a degree that I fell asleep with a deep conviction that home education is what God intended for our homes, lives, communities and families.

As 2011 drew to a close one of our homeschool families decided to host a barn dance to see in the New Year. Their garden was transformed with hay bales, a bonfire and strings of lights, apricots for snacks and barn dance music filling the air as the tables began to fill with the food brought by each family to share for dinner. Jeans, flare skirts, hats, plaits and boots were the order of the night. Hugs, laughter and joy filled the air. Heel, toe, heel, toe, woops, spin around – mind my toe – off to the left we go. Change your partner, now find your own – where did he go? Heel toe, heel toe…  Rain began to pour, laugh some more, shoes shed, mud galore – let’s go around more and more and more. So the evening was spent by 20 adults and 40 children ranging in age from 4 to 80 years.

Looking around I found my 4 year olds were being looked after by a 15 year old boy and my 9 year old had partnered himself in a dance with a 17 year old girl. My 5 year old son was discussing cricket with an 18 year old while my 14 year old was somewhere in the mix with her friends. None of the teens were coupled off instead they shared friends, dances and partners throughout the evening. No one was left on the side lines, no one rejected or excluded. Boys and girls were free to be themselves and not worry about appearance or expectation. Their feet covered in mud they could lean on one another and laugh and just simply be.

Age, race, status, background – nothing mattered. Ten year olds were leading dances. They had all ages arranged and listening to their clear instructions on how to find our places. And listen we did as we were instructed who to dance with and where to turn.

Shortly before midnight we broke into families and spoke about our dreams for 2012 then broke bread and prayed for each other.

What pure joy the evening was. Age groups mixing. Children and adults respecting each other. No arguing or fighting. Good healthy food. No pairing off. No cell phones in sight. Children involved only in friendships and not the complexity of relationships, seeing their parents dance and laugh and flirt with each other – seeing marriage is good.

Yes many others may have had similar evenings but there was something special about these kids. They could mix, be free, my little ones weren’t in the way. The adults could also be free to talk, dance, pray for each other and be real together. This is true family, community and life abundant about which God spoke when he said he’s given us freedom to be free.

So as we stand on the brink of 2012 I rejoice that we are free from systems, free from expectations and limitations, free from curriculums, free from social pressures, free to be and do all that God created for us to be and do.  I will shout from the roof tops, “Homeschooling Rocks!” I’m so glad that as a family we’ve embarked upon this path where our children are not only able to experience true, unadulterated socialisation but they are also free to stay children longer and enjoy  true, real friendships and become all that God created them to be whilst living life abundantly.

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