Everyone says to me, “Oh you are so lucky, your son is so good in school and you don’t have to argue with him to do his homework and he doesn’t have to study a lot”. Or, “He does so well is school, you must be so proud of him”. And my favorite, “It must be so easy to never have to worry about his school work, it comes so natural to him.”
If it was easy, it wouldn’t be parenting, honestly. Every child is different and none of them come with instruction manuals, something both my own mother and my mother-in-law have told me on many occasions when I ask for advice.
The truth is, this is uncharted terrotiry for me, for all those close to me. It is not as easy as many might think when it comes to a gifted child. What, exactly, do I mean by gifted, you may ask? I can only speak for my son, our family, and our situation. It is different for every child.
Look at this chart. My IQ is 119, my husband’s is 118, but our son? Our son’s IQ is 138! He has Superior Intelligence, within 2.1% of the world’s population. Let me put this into perspective for you. Here are some people you might have heard of and their respective IQ levels:
Thomas Jefferson (138)
Nicole Kidman (132)
John F. Kennedy (117)
John Adams (137)
Jodi Foster (132)
George Washington (118)
George W Bush (125)
Bill Clinton (137)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (135)
Andrew Jackson (123)
Al Gore (134)
Abe Lincoln (128)
There are some great minds on that list, and all of them have done great things. It is no list to laugh at. He qualifies for Mensa, but his school does not give an accepted test.
What do these numbers and this fact mean for us, his parents and his family? What does this mean for school work and his achievements in school?
It means a lot. Of course, we are very proud of him. We have been through a lot with him and school, and he is only finishing up 3rd grade. He was in a school district that would have preferred that we medicate him because he was acting out because he was not being challenged. This is common with gifted children, especially in schools that are not equipped to handle their intelligence. It is not every day that a school comes into contact with a child this gifted. Now, he is in a program that challenges him, that focuses one class a day on his special skills and what he is good at, which is no small task for him.
What I have found is that, many kids with special intelligence are labeled behavioral problems because their brains work differently. They get bored with the repetitive tasks of school very easily, they need to be challenged, and, in cases like little man’s, they need different things in their routines to keep them interested.
Because schools are A LOT of repetition, he gets bored easily. Homework IS a fight, despite what people think about “smart” kids. Because he knows the material he does not feel he has to do it, he does not study because he knows the material and sometimes, his grades are not as high as they can be because he doesn’t feel the need to try, to prove he knows the material.
Every conversation is why, how, what if. Sometimes, I can’t answer him. He doesn’t accept the typical “Mom answer” of because. He shares the love of history my husband and I share, and he can create and enact intricate battles with his Army Men. I have seen the Civil War and the Mexican American War played out in my living room with Army Men numerous times.
Many boys his age are building forts or battleships with Legos, not my son, he builds working robots. He draws blue prints and builds contraptions out of empty boxes. He reads text books for fun and figures out the mechanics of a game before playing it. He has memorized the different moves for chess, and he did that in a day.
So, how do I keep him interested, involved, and out of trouble? That is a little tricky at times. He loves to debate, anything and everything. So I debate with him, often choosing the opposite side from him, even if I am on the same side as he is, just to get him to think more and back up his thoughts.
I have to come up with things to do that keep his mind engaged. This includes challenging books for him to read, this summer he is reading from the Mensa for Kids Summer Reading List, which will earn him a certificate from Mensa! We do things other kids would consider boring or not summer vacation activities. Things like the zoo to learn about a specific animal, or the museum, or learning about different local landmarks.
He has read the Sword of Truth series. If he is writing a story, I have to be sure he has a Dictionary near by so he can look up the words he wants to use. If he hears a song once, he remembers all the words.
People have asked me, if he is so “smart” (I hate that word) and so advanced, why not allow him to skip a grade? Well, that would be all well and good but for one issue. Many gifted kids, my son included, are socially awkward and, in some ways, delayed. They have hard times making friends because their minds work differently. This is why so many schools think it is best to medicate these kids. Skipping a grade would do him more harm than good.
It is hard to admit sometimes, but he does get on my nerves with how much he knows. It is not always as easy as some people may think to parent a gifted child. If you do not have patience, it gets even more difficult. He asks a lot of questions and needs to know all the facts about different things. It is a wonder to watch his mind work sometimes.
Yes, parenting a gifted child can be hard at times, but I wouldn’t trade a single second of it.