I’ve written several times about being a mom to at least one gifted child. I’ve mentioned before that I’m beginning to surmise that all four of my munchkins are gifted, and in vastly different ways. But I have never written about my own giftedness.
I wear it sometimes like a scarlet letter. Afraid that the use of the name or the implications of elitism might give people the wrong impression of me. That somehow, recognizing my own intensity will make other people think that I am bragging. Well, I’m not. However, after almost two years of research I’m beginning to think that I’m just an undiagnosed gifted child who has grown up into a misunderstood gifted adult.
Here’s the thing. Like most educators I was of the belief that in order to be gifted you must be a straight A student who never had academic hardships. I believed that because I sometimes struggled through math and often had a very literal understanding of literature that I must not be that smart. And that one time I failed Algebra honors in high school because I couldn’t learn using the teachers teaching methods only confirmed in my mind that I must just be an imposter. All those years before when I was light years away from the other classmates and helped the teacher tutor students that were behind, or that one year of homeschooling when I taught myself 7th and 8th grade math with just a book and mastered it, or that I could speed read through 100 pages in 1/2 an hour and fully comprehend what was going on…all of that was the lie. I had come to believe the notices on my report card that said I was bright but talked too much. I had listened to the taunts in the playground about always being the new girl, about always having my nose in a book…about why couldn’t I be as cool as my little brother. See there were things wrong with me, I got in trouble, I got wrong answers on worksheets, I questioned the canned answers we were supposed to give because I wanted to know more than what skimmed the surface. I talked because I was bored, and lonely and ALWAYS the new kid.
I never stayed in one school for more than two years so no wonder I fell through the gifted testing cracks (and my brother as well…who let’s face it was way smarter to give a c average as his “best” so that no one would expect more of him!). I come from a family where intelligence is the norm and unless you’re in the Mensa range (like grandpa and his brothers) it’s just no biggie. I’m a Puerto Rican woman and was raised in a time period when greatness wasn’t searched for among minorities. I’m a military child so the schools were never really equipped to search for giftedness either. I honestly didn’t even hear the term “gifted and talented” until I was in high school and by then it was all honors with kids who had been in GT classes in middle school or before.
In college I felt average, although looking back now I realize I wasn’t truly challenged until graduate school. I never really tried, I did the minimum and what was expected in order to pass but I chose my classes to fulfill my drive to learn, not for a grade point average.
I’ve always loved learning. No amount of information was ever enough, it still isn’t. Reading was, is, my drug of choice. I read non fiction because I want to know who, what, where, when and how. I read fiction, psychology and theology because I need to know why. I’m not the kind of gifted person who has one obsession that takes over their life…I have many. If I could spend my whole life taking courses, writing papers, while dissecting and understanding every aspect of the universe, I would die a happy person.
I read Einstein for fun, I wanted to understand thermonuclear dynamics…still don’t but I still search because I want to. I read The Prince three times because politics anger and intrigue me, I want to breathe it in, without engaging in petty online debates. I read Harry Potter several times because I love the relationships that build and the humanity that struggles.
I don’t just read either. I disappear into worlds. When I write my own fiction I leave the world I live in and I possess my characters as if they are real and I am a spirit. I wrestle with concepts of being in my mind, of purpose and reality. I toy with the idea that we are merely characters in a complex book. Each individual being only part of a larger overarching story.
I gain passions like others take on hobbies. These are not hobbies for me, they are encompassing of my whole being, if only for a week. I spend hours researching (I actually relish my time searching for answers and tearing through resources!) sometimes days or months. I commit to memory every aspect of what I’m looking at and then I never forget it.
I have the most horrible memory ever when it comes to things like people, names, faces or things that happen to me…but I can randomly spout off a little known fact about Roman vomitoriums that I read 8 years ago for a class. I can pick up a book that I haven’t read in years and remember how far in, what side and what paragraph a quote might be and be correct most of the time. I can also still sing the entire Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song, and I didn’t watch the show regularly.
I’m introverted, but I like people (just not lots at a time), I have over sensitivities to loud noises, people being too close and ignorance (in high school I used to say stupid people piss me off- it’s not because I’m above them but rather because I never understood how people could enjoy not knowing more!). I have meltdowns, real temper tantrum like reactions to overwhelming situations. I’m 30 and I still act like my 3 year old when I’m stressed out and pushed to my limits. I’m socially awkward. It’s so hard to make friends and I’m lucky if I make two good friends per move.
My kids are weird, but so am I. My kids are wicked smart, and so am I. My kids are gifted. So am I.
Maybe that’s why homeschooling works so well for all of us? Maybe that’s why I’m so passionate about making sure they are challenged and accepted as they are…because I wasn’t. Maybe that’s why they understand when mommy needs to write, or read, or make something with her hands…because they need to do that too. Maybe that’s why unschooling works so well for all of us…because we can all chase whatever passion we have right now and it’s ok if we become obsessed. Maybe that’s why I’m a bit more understanding when my almost four year old is having a meltdown like a 2 year old. Maybe that’s why my husband understands me so much… Because even though he was never diagnosed I sometimes think he may be gifted too. He is pretty weird, and he is wicked smart…and these kids are 50% him so…maybe, I’m not so far off base?
“We’re all a little weird and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone who’s weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”