“My Story…” Monday: A – The Acceptance of Children

(You can catch up on A’s story right here: The Pregnancy, The Birth, The Infancy, The Quiet Toddler, Advocating, What He COULD Do, Just A Boy, The (Hard) Next Step, Making a Friend, The Autism DiagnosisHe Talks, Hyperlexia, Your Baby Can Read, Another Evaluation, A New Kind of Special Need, Linear Algebra, The Triennial, The IQ Results, Bye, Bye Autism Diagnosis, Dr. C’s Plan, Second Grade Math, Is it too easy?, A Well-Rounded Child, Being a Team Player)

 

I know I’ve gushed about how wonderful A’s school is many times already.  Even without my blatant compliments, many of you have picked up on the elements that make it exceptional and have remarked about them in the comments.  We are, truly, fortunate to be right where we are for this season of our son’s education.  Too often, gifted kids are overlooked.  Even when their talents are identified, special programming is frequently unavailable.  There’s an assumption that “they’re smart– they’ll do fine.”  It’s not fair but, legally, schools are not obligated to make concessions for this type of special need.  Knowing this, I’m very aware that we are blessed to have a school which both recognizes A’s needs and strives to meet them.

 

So, as you well know, A. attends math class with the brightest of the third graders.  It’s been this way all year and, you know, what always amazes me about the whole thing is this:

 

The children have no problem whatsoever adapting.  It’s the grown-ups.

 

Not one time has A. had an issue with the kids in his classes.  His first grade friends simply accept the fact that he leaves every day to go do math.  They don’t question it.  The third graders just accept that he’s a part of their math class.  The whole thing goes remarkably smoothly.  He’s never been made fun of, alienated, or treated like anything other than a part of the group.  And, while he knows that he’s advanced in math, he’s never acted like that makes him better than the kids in his own class.  If anything, he just gets a little bummed if he feels like he’s missing out on something cool, like “the doubles rap” they learned recently.

 

But the grown ups.

 

It’s not that anyone has been mean in any way.  Not at all.  But, perhaps because our adult brains just aren’t as fluid and accepting as our children’s, the whole arrangement seems far more unsettling to the grown ups I talk to.

 

At curriculum night, I sat among the other first grade parents in the classroom and listened to what our children were studying.  Even though I knew the math topic wasn’t applicable to my son, I just sat there politely, of course.  A mom whose son has been with A. since preschool leaned over and remarked, “A. must be so bored doing this!”  I responded, “He actually isn’t– they made arrangements for him to go to another class.”  She smiled and gave me a thumbs up.   And that was great.  But, as is so often the case in close quarters with many mommies, another mother overheard.

 

“What’s this?  Your son gets a special math class?  That’s interesting because ‘Bobby’ has always been very interested in numbers.  He could count to ten at 18 months!”

 

Now… this?  Has always been immensely amusing to me.  If you remember, my son was considered severely delayed for the first few years of his life.  For our family (and every situation is unique, to be sure), ability level as displayed at a young toddler age had no bearing on IQ results or level of giftedness.  Do I think ‘Bobby’ was a precocious little boy who enjoyed counting?  Sure.  And he might be good at math.  But, whenever I have someone like this mother question A’s programming, I’m reminded again of how HUGE the whole story is.  I simply cannot get into everything that led up to the decision to put him in third grade math.  But I can definitely say this much– there was a lot more to it than being “good at math.”

 

And then, when I quietly slipped into the third grade classroom (A’s math teacher had requested I stop by), I was met with curious stares from the other parents.  Who the heck was I?  And why did Mrs. S. address me individually and then let me leave before the rest of the presentation?  While their children were merely curious and open when A. entered their classroom, the parents were skeptical and leery.

Finally, I share the story of A’s soccer team.  On the first day, the coach’s daughter looked up as A. joined the group.  “Oh, hey, he’s in my math class!” she exclaimed.  “Oh, he’s in your class?” he dad asked, offhandedly.  “Well, for math,” she replied.  “Yes, yes, so he has Mrs. S.?” he dad responded, impatiently.  “For math– he’s in my math group,” she insisted.  “I got it,” he dad sighed, “he’s in your class.”

 

“I’m only in first grade.  I just go to math with Mrs. S.,” A. said, quietly but in his matter-of-fact way.

 

The whole group grew silent.  Until the assistant coach, chuckling, said, “Smart little guy, eh?  Well, welcome to the Lightning!”

 

Awkward.

 

Always awkward with the parents.

 

I’m still working on just how much to share.  At this point, I lean toward revealing very little.  But, as was the case with the soccer team, sometimes circumstances come up that force my hand.

 

Perhaps because I too am one of the grown-ups, I find I have a harder time explaining it than my child does.

 

And I just keep praying his peers will always be so accepting.

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7 comments to “My Story…” Monday: A – The Acceptance of Children

  • The more I read of A’s story, the more certain I am that God places specific children with specific parents for perfect reasons. I see such grace in you, JL. You are the perfect mommy for A! I cannot even begin to fathom how my personality would have had me parenting a child with a unique situation like A’s – even though I have my own unique situation with my Eli (it’s SO very different).

    I do know that it isn’t always an easy road, but I believe by telling A’s story you are opening the eyes of so many parents to the differences that exist. I am also certain you are encouraging many other parents in knowing they simply aren’t alone on their journey.

  • Becki

    Sometimes I think adult reactions are due to a not knowing HOW to react. Unless your own child is in a non-typical classroom setting, people tend to think inside a very small and rigid box. And that is often due to how schools have always ran. But not all kids are going to be on the same level, even within one single class. In my education classes from a few years ago, we talked about multi-age classes, and as a student going into the teaching field – it terrified me!! But now, working in early intervention and being a parent of four very different children, I can see how a properly done multi-age class could do so much more than the typical one. I don’t see it happening in most schools though for many reasons – the biggest is that it’s {gasp} CHANGE…. and I think it would meet a lot of parent resistance, for the same reasons. We lag so far behind in the field of education. We make all these advances in all these other fields, and our kids are still learning the same way their grandparents did. Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now…Continue doing what’s best for YOUR children, and let God sort out the rest :)

  • Great post JessieLeigh! It is amazing how differently children think from adults. How differently my own children view things from me. Often I’ll be trying to muddle through a situation in my thoughts and the kiddos have already accepted and adapted. We truly have so much to learn from the little ones!

  • People are so touchy and no matter what the scenario I think they just get their panties in a bunch if they think their kid may be getting less. If I was you I think I’d be pretty tight lipped as well. My brother just turned 20 and my mother STILL fusses about the kid who got a special reward for sitting still in class because she views him as a bad behavior kid, but my normal behavior brother had to do something extraordinary for a reward. I am sure that kid had an IEP and some legitimate problem that made that a big deal for him. Even now that we have to deal with special needs directly she doesn’t get it.

  • Julie M

    Thank you so much for sharing your story about this. Our son is profoundly gifted and we adopted him at birth. Many people have looked at us funny, acted strange, etc., when they find out our son is 7 and in 3rd grade. He is what he is. It is what it is. I’m not sure the source of others’ angst about bright children. Perhaps it is society that is constantly bombarding people with the notion they must measure themselves against the successful person, the pretty girl, etc. But when you choose not to measure yourself, you will find you settle quite nicely in to life…and actually enjoy it :)

  • [...] Dr. C’s Plan, Second Grade Math, Is it too easy?, A Well-Rounded Child, Being a Team Player, The Acceptance of Children, Anti-Social?, The Boy Can TALK!, Gifts for Gifted Kids, I Don’t Like You!, Miss K., The Plan [...]

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