Jewish World Review Feb. 25, 2005 / 16 Adar I, 5765
Gifted kids don't always have it all
These days it's hard to find someone who is not pushing a child to become
Gifted, accelerated, talented in some circles, it's tantamount
to having a Lexus in the garage.
None of ours were gifted, which was just as well we had our hands full
as it was.
When our son was a toddler, he used to push a small footstool
around and make car sounds. When the footstool got hung up on a door frame,
he didn't have the reasoning ability to pick up the stool and move it. He
did, however, have the brains to switch from car noises to screeching
brakes and honking sounds.
Gifted? No, but he had a good sense of owning the road and could go
from carpet to hardwood in under 20.
As a preschooler, whenever we asked our youngest to count, she'd
seal her lips and give us a blank stare. She'll need special help, I
thought to myself.
When she went for her kindergarten interview, I stood on the other side of
the partition and heard her sweetly say to the teacher, "Good morning.
Would you like to hear me count?" She raced to 35 before the teacher could
cut her off.
Gifted? No, but she knew how to work a room.
In grade school, our kids announced plans to raid the garden and
set up a produce stand down by the corner stop sign and call it Champion
Produce. They ran out of room for the "i-o-n" on their sign and immediately
declared themselves Champ Produce.
Gifted? No, but smart enough to know women in mini-vans would go as high as
two bucks for a plastic cup filled with fresh raspberries.
When our middle one started to drive, she stopped to fill up the car and
couldn't figure out how to get the gas cap off. (You twist it.)
Gifted? No, but she was able to bat her long eyelashes and get help from a
A mother at our neighborhood grade school used to carry her son's
standardized test scores in her purse. She'd sit in the school lobby and
hold his score sheet way out in front of her so those passing by could be
dutifully impressed. She was the type mom that gave gifted a bad name.
We have a nephew who is genuinely gifted. He spent some time with us the
summer before he entered fifth grade. He brought a World Almanac for
pleasure reading and his parents left extra money with instructions to buy
him a USA Today and Wall Street Journal each morning. He was tracking blue
chip stocks. I was feeding frozen waffles to a miniature investment banker
with a high voice and no facial hair.
Everybody is anxious to have a child designated gifted, yet a
gifted child is often a special challenge to raise. The first challenge is
to try and stay two steps ahead of them. We need to cultivate the minds of
children with high intelligence. We desperately need more Jonas Salks and
But in our rush to push kids harder and harder to achieve, it is
easy to overlook qualities like personality, industriousness and
imagination. Average and above-average intelligence with a good work ethic
can be a gift, too.
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