“My Story… ” Monday: A — A. meets his match?


 

 

(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, The Acceptance of Children, Anti-Social?, The Boy Can TALK!, Gifts for Gifted Kids, I Don’t Like You!, Miss K., The Plan for Next Year, A University Enters the Picture)


About a year and a half ago now, Dr. C. sent me an email in which she seemed super excited. She had, she wrote, found a little girl in our district whose abilities seemed similar to our son’s. This little girl– I’m going to call her Hilary, though that is NOT her real name– was very advanced in mathematics and was reading at a high level. At that point, both she and A. had read through the entire Magic Tree House series within a matter of a couple months.

 

Interesting.

 

Hilary’s mom, it turns out, had given Dr. C. permission to give me her contact info so that we could, perhaps, get the two children together sometime.

 

That sounded good to me. I’m a social creature, so I like meeting new people. As an extrovert, I’ve also always craved more social adeptness for my son, so I thought this might be a fabulous opportunity. I emailed the mom.

 

We wrote back and forth a few times. (And can I just admit how carefully I would proofread those emails? There’s some stress associated with the gifted community!! ;)) Finally, we settled on a Saturday afternoon; we decided to meet up at our local library, a nice central point for both of us.

 

Hilary is a nice enough little girl, with long brown hair and the slim straight lines of a typical five or six year old. She was kind of quiet, but in no way rude. She and A. introduced themselves to one another and then… promptly went back to their own siblings. Hilary has an older sister. A. has two younger sisters. Children, like we grown people, tend to seek the familiar. And that is what they did.

 

Meanwhile, I started talking with Hilary’s mom. I was anxious to make a friend. I was thrilled with the idea of having a new “mommy friend” who would actually GET this facet of my life. While I have so many wonderful mommy friends in my life, I don’t really have anyone who’s walked this same road. It was a great opportunity to connect.

 

And so the conversation began…

 

“Where do you work?” she asked.

“Oh, I stay home with the three kids, actually…” I replied.

“Oh.”

{silence}

 

“Have you been enjoying this nice weather?” I asked. “We love to hike.”

“Mmm,” she responded, “we more enjoy the museums and cultural opportunities our area provides.”

{silence}

 

“What types of programming do you use with A.? We love such-and-such computer program for instilling math skills and practicing drills. That’s how we keep Hilary sharp.”

“Oh, um,” I mumbled, then laughed nervously. “I tend to scrawl math problems on scrap paper and napkins just when he asks. He enjoys it, so I come up with different things for him to try.”

“But, then, how do you TRACK it?” she persisted.

“I guess I don’t, really…”

{silence}

 

“What books does Hilary enjoy now that she finished the Magic Tree House series? A. loved those. He’s reading the A to Z mysteries right now.”

“Well,” she replied, “we’re trying to introduce Hilary to Shakespeare now. I think it’s important.”

“Oh! Well… that’s awesome.”

{silence}

 

“How are you handling A.’s language instruction? Have you started a second language yet?”

“Well, actually, A. didn’t even speak until he was almost three so, even though I’m technically fluent in French…”

“You ARE?” she interrupted. “That will be helpful! We’ve had to rely on our au pairs for language training and I’m not convinced it’s been the best way…”

{silence}

 

And on and on it went.

 

Oh, friends, it was the most uncomfortable conversation I had had in a very long time. While I had (and have) nothing against Hilary or her mother, it was immediately clear that our parenting styles were so vastly different that it was hard to find any common ground.

 

After the fact, my husband just laughed and said, “She had no idea what to even DO with you!”

 

The feeling was mutual.

 

Over the years, I’ve had many people ask me questions similar to those of Hilary’s mom. I think it’s common to believe that, with a child like A., we must have all sorts of educational programs and cultural enrichment going on around here. It’s hard for people to believe that we’ve just let him lead the way.

 

I answer his questions. I ask him questions.

 

But I don’t have any tricks. No computer programs. No Shakespeare (yet). No au pairs. No phonics-based reading classes in preschool.

 

I’m just stompin’ through the woods with my boy, scratching my head and trying to answer the question, “So, at what point would the weight of a leaning tree cause it to fall over? How do you figure that out?”

 

I’m sad to say Hilary’s mom was disappointed in what I had to offer. Fortunately, I think God knew what He was doing when He give me this little boy. And I’m a lot more concerned with His opinion.

 

 

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13 comments to “My Story… ” Monday: A — A. meets his match?

  • You’re not only one who would have been majorly uncomfortable in this situation. I’m an extrovert, also (LOVE to chitchat). I’ve had ridiculously awkward conversations like this since we homeschool and that doesn’t fall into the “mainstream” way of thinking.

    You’re absolutely right that God knew what he was doing. You and T. are the perfect parents for A (and C and G, too!), that’s why he chose you to be their parents!

    Keep up what you’re doing, if A. is thriving, then that is what works for HIM.

  • Susan

    JessieLeigh,

    So sorry the new Mommie friend thing didn’t work out. Sometimes, I get really happy to schedule a playdate for my 11 year old because it means that I can have a grown up playdate while the kids play. It seems like my son can make friends with anyone, but I don’t get to meet new potential friends that often. Please don’t think negatively about all working Moms. I have friends that work full time, part time as well as full time stay-at-home Moms. Have you thought of joining a Mom’s Club in your area?

    • Oh, goodness, Susan… I don’t think negatively about moms who work outside the home at ALL! Honestly, it was more the disdainful sneer over the fact that I don’t have a career that made it clear we weren’t gelling. It would be a boring world if all my friends were clones of me. :) I actually do belong to a moms’ group through my church and it’s lovely– I was just optimistic that perhaps this meeting would have enabled me to make a friend who was also navigating these “severely gifted child” waters. Alas…

  • Marcia

    JessieLeigh,
    Please don’t be disheartened. God may have used you and A to help her see that there is another track that can be taken, a gentler way of guiding a child instead of dragging them….

    Or at least that would be taking the high road in the situation….

    • Thank you, Marcia. I’m not disheartened, really. Just a tad disappointed that we didn’t hit it off, I guess. But it’s all good! I just hope Hilary was able to chill a bit this summer! ;)

  • Ha ha can you say freakshow?? Geez how about we let the kid be a kid for a smidge. That stinks you were so polar opposites. It would surely be helpful to have a friend and confidant walking a similar path. But she sounds like a loon. I think your methods are giving A the challenges he needs while still letting him be a little boy.

  • Laraba

    Oh, that is funny, in a way. Not in another way. I’d be so irritated, honestly. I am BIG on not pushing kids hard when they are young. For a truly gifted child (and obviously your son is gifted) it may be necessary to provide lots of stimulation so he doesn’t get bored, but it sounds like A. is very happy with the way things are. Sounds like that other mom is pushing hard. I hope that dear girl doesn’t end up totally stressed out.
    Of course, parenting styles vary tremendously and that’s Ok.

    I wish we lived closer because I think we’d probably click quite well in person and maybe I could get some one on one insight on how to handle a gifted mathie. Our 6 year old daughter startled me today when she revealed that she completely understands the concept of multiplication — that may not be amazingly extraordinary except that I have never taught her anything about multiplication. She picked it up from a free math game someone gave us. That scares me a little :-). She shows signs of being very bright which is good but, as you well know, has its challenging aspect too!

    • I would love to live closer to you, Laraba! I would say that a 6yo demonstrating a complete understanding of multiplication is, indeed, very remarkable– good for her! And you’re right– very bright children are a wonderful blessing who bring with them their own set of challenges. :)

  • I couldn’t help it. LAUGHING so hard at parts of this. Picturing you… picturing her… oh my word. (By the way, house is still for sale behind me. Just the occasional reminder… Your A. could tutor my A. in math!) ;)

  • Amanda

    This made me laugh so hard. We began homeschooling this year and I met with other homeschoolers who were forming a group in our area. There were children of all ages and curriculum came up with some of us that are just starting out. They all start rattling off which curriculums and web sites they use. They turn to me an asked what I was using and when I said nothing their jaws dropped. In my head I was thinking, this is kindergarten…. They need to know numbers, letter, shapes, colors, basic math, word sounds and so on. I get looking into it for the older grades but I just felt like Kindergarten was kind unnecessary but everyone else took it so seriously.

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