“What do you expect with two overexcited, overtired gifted kids?” said my DH at the end of a long evening as we sheltered from the noise of our two as they raced up and down the hallway playing a complicated game with a pram, some cards with numbers on them, and two baby dolls.
For my DH, it was acknowledgement of the reality of living with gifted kids. A way of staying sane when the chaos threatens to overwhelm us. And for both of us, it was a way of letting go of frustration – our kids are gifted, and sometimes they need to express their overexcitability. They weren’t being destructive, or bad. They were creatively playing happily together. It was just noisy.
In many ways, the gifted label has enabled us as a family to learn to live with ourselves and each other. My kids will struggle with being able to regulate their emotions – whether it’s J’s sadness at watching the Mythbusters crash another car, or C’s enthusiasm when he discovers another awesome game, or discusses how ramps work. Everything is big, and loud.
For us, the gifted label matters, because it has helped us understand our children. To accept them and not try to judge and criticize them for expressing a part of themselves. We can’t wish it away, we can’t discipline it away. It’s their wiring. And in time, they may learn how to be more socially acceptable in their expression of extreme OEs. Or not. But because we know in our house that giftedness is more than just academics – that it affects everything about how they think, feel and see the world, we try to create an environment where they feel safe. Where they can be their true selves.
That is why gifted matters. Not the academics, though that is a large part of it. But that with the label and the acknowledgement of what it means, our kids don’t have to pretend to be something they are not. They can be their authentic self – rough edges and all. It’s not wrong, it’s not better, it’s not less, it’s different.
Giftedness matters because kids need to know that they are OK. Giftedness matters because their parents need to know their kids are OK. Giftedness matters because their instructors and teachers need to know that they are OK.
Knowing not just that they are different, but how they are different matters. It impacts how they think, how they listen, and how to talk to and teach them. With this knowledge, we can, if we are lucky, stave off some of the pitfalls that come with being different in a world that rarely accepts difference.
For me, if my kids are happy, I think I’m stumbling close to doing this parent thing right. Knowing about giftedness helps me craft the environment they need to be their happy, loud, emotional and overexcited selves.
This post is part of a blog hop for the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum on “Giftedness: Why does it matter?” Check out the other participants!