Wanting to Eat My Words

I’ve been quiet today.


The truth is, I came very close to deleting the entire “A” portion of “My Story…” Mondays this morning.


Because it’s starting to hurt, much in the way I feared it would.  It’s why I didn’t say anything for so long and I find myself wishing I had just maintained that silence.


I feel it.  The change.  It’s harder to write now and the comments grow ever more sparse.  Now, I’ve been blogging long enough to know not to base the success of a post on the comments, but, still…


May I tell you something?


It’s easier to write about the bad stuff.  The problems.  People are amazingly receptive and compassionate when you tell them about your child’s deficits.  When I write about C’s ongoing therapy needs or my son’s failure to speak for so long, my words are met with warmth, love, and acceptance.  I am reminded, again and again, what wonderful treasures my children are.  But a funny thing happens when you write down that your child’s IQ is crazy high.


People stop talking.


I have come across as arrogant, I fear, or perhaps too proud.  That was never my intent.  People get squeamish when faced with the term “gifted” and they don’t know what to make of it.


I sense it.


(“But my kid is smart too.  My four year old can read!  My two year old can sing her ABC’s!  My child has made the honor roll every semester!  My son tested ahead of grade level!”)


And here’s the thing:  I know other kids are smart.  There are plenty of other truly gifted children, too, but, and I don’t know how else to say it– gifted is different from smart.


The evaluator has described my son as “severely gifted.”  The term made me laugh at first because, on the surface, it makes it sound like “being smart is a bad thing.”  But that’s not it.  It’s not the whole “being smart” part of it… it’s the rest.


It might make me a lousy parent to say this, but I want you to understand: there is a part of me that, more than anything, craves normalcy for my boy.  There are days when I think I would happily trade in the incredible math and reading abilities if he could just laugh and play and interact like a “normal” little kid.


He’s young yet.  And he’s pretty well-liked.  Children greet him by name in the halls and smile his way.


And he’s a little lost.  He smiles.  Kind of.  Shifts his eyes to me.  I nudge him.  “Uh… hello!” he finally comes up with, long after we’ve passed the child in the corridor.


It’s hard.  It’s work.  And, while I honestly wouldn’t trade my little guy or any of his quirks for anything in the whole wide world, it’s not as easy as saying, “My kid is really stinkin’ smart!”


But that doesn’t all come across.  And, even with all I’ve said here, maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah, she just thinks her kid is SO brilliant…”


I do.  I do think he’s brilliant.  I am fascinated by that little boy’s brain every day of my life.


But I don’t know how to tell you that it is with such hesitation that I ever reveal his giftedness.  Online, over the phone, and even in real life.  Face it, I went years without mentioning it on this here blog.


Because I knew.  I knew the radio silence I would feel.  Real or imagined, I sit in a state of just wanting to eat my words and go back to “my child didn’t talk until he was almost 3.”  It was a more comfortable place for all of us.


So, please let me say.  I write A’s story, not to brag about how smart he is, but to explore what, truly, is a whole other side of Special Education.  Because, really, more than just “smart,” that’s what “being gifted” is… it’s another kind of “being special ed.”

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49 comments to Wanting to Eat My Words

  • mlearley

    Just wanted to let you know that I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I am amazed with the story of A. I never thought you were bragging about how smart he was or thought anything less of you for sharing your story. I always took it as a story of hope for other mothers whose child may not be “normal” but found other areas to excel in life. Please don’t regret sharing your story b/c you never know who you might’ve affective and they just never spoke up about it.

  • Leslie Graves

    Beautifully, beautifully and honestly written, and I comment because I do understand, as do many other mom’s of gifted or 2E kids do.. Thankyou for adding your voice. It is such a pity that so many of the parents of the gifted feel that they need to be ‘on guard’ as if they are harbouring a ‘secret’… and it is wrong, not only affecting the child, but making parent feel rather lonely/apart as well. Well, you are really not alone, and there are some wonderful folk with kids out there, who will welcome you, and the gifted bits of your kid(s) along with the bad bits… and I for one am one of them… ;-D.. so do write some of the good stuff… would love to read.. ;-D

  • Kelley

    I have never, ever thought for one moment your words were of the bragging, arrogant tone. I have enjoyed reading about your journey with A. I can’t imagine what the ride has been like.

    But if you wanted to brag about your child all day long, I would still read. We are our children’s biggest fans. We need to encourage and let them feel filled with our love, respect and adoration. I LOVE to hear other mnother’s love their children and that is all I hear when I read your words. In my very personal (harsh) opinion, if other people hear anything else, may be that is a hole they need to fill for themselves instead of feeling defensive and competitve. Keep typing!! It is all good stuff!

  • Danielle

    Please don’t stop writing this series. I’m enjoying it so much, and am looking forward to reading more! I know what it’s like when you recognize that a child is gifted in some ways and yet all you want is a normal life for him. It hurts that he may never be understood. However, your story — A’s story — shines a light on an often overlooked side of “special” education, and it’s both needed and appreciated!

    • Oh, Danielle, thank you for seeing how giftedness is, indeed, the other side of special education! THIS, I think, is so often overlooked or misunderstood. I am so grateful that you’re following along and I appreciate your kind comment!

  • I read every single post you write and have especially loved reading A.’s story. I have been silent because it’s hard to comment on something I’ve never experienced. I have two brother-in-laws with autism, one who’s very severe. My in-laws have worked their whole life to support these boys and see them everyday. I don’t understand the side of autism with extreme giftedness. I will always support you though, my friend and your words always inspire me. I know your heart is pure and you would never brag.

    • You are as sweet and loyal as the day is long, Miranda, and I am so blessed to have “met” you through this blog. Thanks for always being there and being such a wonderful cheerleader for me! (p.s. More on all that autism stuff coming up very soon!)

  • Lori

    I really look forward to reading this series, I hope you don’t stop it. I know when you say that something is wrong, its easy for people to sympathize, even if they don’t personally know or understand. When you say something that is not a “problem” in their minds, people don’t know how to respond. Of course in this case being gifted is a good thing, however its not normal. As parents we want our kids to be normal and liked, and when a child is not our definition of “normal” its always hard.

    • “As parents we want our kids to be normal and liked, and when a child is not our definition of “normal” its always hard.” <– You hit the nail of the head with this, Lori. Yes and yes. While none of us want a "cookie cutter" child, it is a real challenge when your child doesn't fit into that general "normal" pool. I am so grateful for your comment and I am encouraged by you, and others, to keep on writing– thank you!!

  • I’m glad you wrote about this. I hope you won’t worry about what others think of you and your son – even though I know it’s hard not to. Heck, I worry about what people think about what I write all the time. But I’m glad you are being brave and sharing. I can imagine that parents of gifted kids will identify with what you say. And they need to know they’re not alone.

  • I also wanted to add that, from my very limited blogging experience, it seems to me that people tend to comment more when they identify with what I’m writing about. There aren’t that many parents with gifted children, so that may be why people are more silent. I’m looking forward to reading more of A’s story.

    • You’re very right, Mandy, in that people like to comment when they can relate. I get tons of comments on some stuff *I* think is weird (e.g. that soap pump post!), but when you get all deep and personal, sometimes you can hear the echo, if you know what I mean. :)

  • Oh JessieLeigh – don’t ever stop writing from your heart. While I do not have a child who is gifted, I have one who is a bit “different” and reading A’s story has been very encouraging. The thought of you being a braggart or hyping up his abilities is, frankly, quite absurd.

    I believe you are truly being his best advocate and simultaneously helping others understand what being gifted is and how living with/raising a gifted child can be challenging. I agree with a commenter above who said that A’s story is shining a light on the other end of the “special” ed sector. One in which so many people need to have more compassion and understanding.

  • Oh Jessie Leigh, I get it. I really do! People get funny about intelligent kids, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because their own kids might be smart, but not all THAT smart! They also tend to treat the highly intelligent child differently. They seem to develop higher expectations in all aspects of those children. Some folks lose sight of the fact that even though a child may have a super-high IQ, they are still a CHILD with a child’s needs and emotions.

    I know whereof I speak….my almost micro-preemie 10-year old granddaughter (the one who was 1 pound, 14 oz. at birth) recently was tested for the first time, for ADD/ADHD (which she doesn’t have) and IQ. The IQ came in at 150!! Not genius, but higher than 98.7% of the population.)

    About 2 years ago I asked her with great amazement “How do you know that??” about some rather esoteric piece of information she mentioned in conversation. With great seriousness, she looked at me and said, “Well, Grammy, I’m smart.” Yes, she is and that makes her even more special to us!

    And so is your son!

    • Your granddaughter’s story is such an amazing tale of triumph… it always gives me chills! And I love, love her response to you. Children just GET IT. They don’t feel the need to veil the reasons. She’s smart… and she realizes it! And I hope she always knows that it’s AWESOME that she’s smart and never, ever anything to try to hide. :)

  • You know we love you. And I certainly didn’t think that you were bragging. I was never labelled “gifted,” but as a friend put it, I am “a freak of nature.” I do things that other people won’t or don’t do. And for a long time I was embarrassed of overachieving me, worried that people would misinterpret it or mock me. I think your story and A’s story is about learning to be who we are — and not be ashamed of it.

    We love you, JL. And we’d tell you if you were out of line. At least I would. ;)

  • Kim

    I think all parents crave for their children to be “normal” whatever that means. Yet every child has areas where they are ahead of the game and others where they are behind. I believe that as parents we need to celebrate the giftedness of each child and encourage the parts where they need encouragement. I have enjoyed reading your story and of all the amazing help you got to help your son. I hope you continue to write his story.

    • I do plan to continue to write his story, Kim, and I am so grateful for your supportive words. And you’re right– all children have their strengths and weaknesses and we as parents need to foster the strengths and support the weaker spots!

  • I have loved reading your story and I am so glad you have shared it with us. I appreciate your honesty. I never thought that you were bragging.I hope you continue to share it with us.

  • Boy, it looks like complaining about a lack of comments is just what you need to get some! Maybe I should try that! ;)

    Seriously though, I’ve been waiting to hear the “rest of the story” to see what your take on all of this is because… honestly, I would love for my children to be smart, but I’m not sure I wanted super gifted. You are right that it comes with it’s challenges! I want my kids to be relate to other kids, make friends and get along well.

    You certainly have had an interesting journey with your little ones. Medical issues. Social and mental issues. Let’s hope this last one gives you a break. :)

    PS. I didn’t think you were bragging. You are just telling your story and you shouldn’t be ashamed.

    • Ah, Rebekah, you always see right through me. No, really, I shook when I hit publish because I actually feared a terrible backlash. I have been blessed and humbled by the kindness that poured out of my wonderful readers. I did not anticipate that and, if I’m ashamed of anything, it’s that I somehow must have sold people short, because everyone has been wonderful to me! Thanks for being a friend and sharing your thoughts with me. (Oh, and #3? She’s just going to give Daddy a heart- attack. Totally fearless. Totally. :))

  • Mary

    I never commented because my son is gifted, but not 2E, so I thought I’d sound like I was trying to hard to have something in common. But I love reading your story! And I share many of your feelings. Having a gifted kid can be lonely, frustrating, and scary. Our culture values “average” because it seems more equal. But God has given us all different strengths, and the whole communit should rejoice in the strengths of those around them.

    I’m amazed to hear how well your school district handles giftedness. Ours does not do as well. We chose to homeschool because of that. It’s good to know we may someday find a school for him, because honestly, he’s 7 and I’m not sure how much longer I can keep up!

    Keep sharing. And know that even if we don’t always comment, your words touch us and your honesty moves us. Thank you.

    • Oh, Mary, I think you’re so right in that “our culture values average.” We’ve set up parameters as to what’s “normal” and that’s what we cater to. And, while I understand it, it is true that those who don’t fit that mold can be alienated. We are very fortunate in that our school district has a gifted coordinator and she has taken a very active interest in our son’s success and happiness. She and I are in frequent contact and she listens to our (my and my husband’s) recommendations very carefully. I know there are many, many districts that are not as fortunate and, as a result, the gifted programming is inferior or non-existent. (It made me smile to read your comment about not being sure how long you could keep up… I’ve had those feelings too!! :))

  • I love the honesty of your blog. I have been reading your stories about your son with interest. In a way, I understand – from the opposite perspective. I have a high IQ and excelled in school, graduating this spring from college with top honors and several academic awards. I am proud of my accomplishments, but at the same time, I don’t want to come off as boastful. My life is far from perfect, and like you, I often find it easier to discuss my troubles with others than to discuss my successes and natural gifts. It’s just easier to court sympathy than to summon up modesty in the face of awkward silences. But we need to be true to the gifts God gave us, and so throughout college I smiled in the photos while I held my awards plaques, and I now discuss my career plans with friends and professors. But I also am honest about my insecurities and doubts, my struggles and questions. I just am who I am. And throughout my life, I want to be a good friend, a loving sister and daughter, and a good worker at whatever job God has next for me.

    • I love the honesty of your comment, Elizabeth. Truly. And this? “I often find it easier to discuss my troubles with others than to discuss my successes and natural gifts.” Is perfect. I’m very grateful to have you following A’s story. Thank you.

  • oh no! Sorry I’ve been absent from the blog world! I didn’t mean to desert you! Keep sharing A’s story. I’m totally hooked now and would be super sad to have nothing new next MOnday (even though I’ve been a slacker reader this week.)

    • Aw, Heather, you are such a blessing and wonderful support to me.. I’ve never felt deserted by you! (Now, I do go into withdrawal fits when you don’t update on your cutie patootie boys, but that’s a whole different issue. ;))

  • Heather

    I’m enjoying reading about your journey with A.

  • Denise

    Please don’t stop your story about your family! I also have experienced people becoming quiet, when they find out your child is “smart”. We homeschool and when I went to a mom’s group and wanted help on finding apporiate reading for my five year old who reads at a fifth grade level, I got either silence or “I wish I had your problems”. They dismissed my problem. But it is a problem. Keep loving your guy and doing what is right for him. All I heard was facts!! Keep up the great blogs.

    • Oh, that can be a HUGE challenge, Denise! As difficulty level increases, subject matter often rises in maturity level. That can make it REALLY hard to find a book (or, even better, a series!) that is appropriate. I am so sorry that your challenge/concern was dismissed. That’s not right or fair. :(

  • I never felt like it was coming across as braggy. I always felt like it was the continuation of the story you started. I want to know what happened. I look forward to reading new entries.

  • Aubree

    Please don’t stop writing. I agree with other commenters, I didn’t comment at all because I don’t know what to say. But I love hearing A’s story. I check back every Monday morning to read more. I don’t think you were bragging at all, just continuing the story. I’m can’t imagine how difficult this journey was fornyou and your family. The lengths you went to for the sake of A are amazing. I believe you would love for him to be “normal” instead of gifted, if it meant making his life easier. Please continue the story. You tell a wonderful story and you make me want to be a mom like you!

    • Oh, Aubree, you are too generous with your words! But, thank you, and I am so appreciative. I adore telling A’s story, just as I have always loved sharing C’s journey as a micropreemie. To be honest, I would very much miss doing “My Story…” so I am very grateful that people like you have kindly shown that they do want me to continue. Thank you!

  • Marcia

    Please don’t stop posting this series! I stumbled upon your blog long before baby G. was born, and have been reading and not commenting ever since (I know, bad lurker!) I find encouragement in reading of how your children have overcome and excelled. We have one little one, our Boo, who is soon to be four. She is smart, bordering on the gifted, and I worry for her trying to fit in. I worry frequently how I would handle it if she were a tiny bit more advanced, and I am grateful that I have not been given that challenge. Your family is amazing, and I check in every Monday and frequently on other days, just to see what they are up to! Please don’t stop!

    • There is nothing wrong with being a lurker, Marcia, but I am ever so grateful that you “un-lurked” to comment. :) As you know, from what I’ve written already, I have worried incessantly about A’s fitting in with his peers for years now. One thing I think I have (finally) learned, too, is that, in addition to supporting him in socializing with his friends, I also need to celebrate his comfort and confidence with himself because, really, that’s something I could learn from HIM! I bet your Boo is an amazing little girl and a very smart cookie. Smart kids are a lot of fun. :)

  • Katie

    All the commentors above me did a wonderful job expressing exactly who I feel regarding A’s story. I’m glad you have been posting about A’s story because I am learning so much! I also keep thinking about how all this came on the heels of having a micropreemie. Wow, you & your husband faced so many unknowns with both your children in such a short time and went through it with such grace.

  • Marci

    So, I must confess that I did not read all of the amazing comments above me and I may be repeating much of what has already been said.

    I must echo my previous statement I made of A. I feel like God has amazing plans for your sweet boy. Telling his story will be helpful to some who are struggling. His story is one of hope and joy and overcoming obstacles and being careful not to judge and so many other things I could add.

    I know that I personally was just enjoying reading the story and felt no real need to add to what you were saying. I love hearing A’s story. God writes each of our stories in a different way and it’s amazing to hear how He is working.

  • Looks like I missed the party! Feel better now? ;) It’s quite obvious that you are well loved, my friend.

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