You realize they are reading when they’re three. They take a toy and turn it into something it was never meant to be while you stare in disbelief. They will ask you questions from their carseat, that make you want to pull over and say “pardon me?”. If you provide them with workbooks, they will finish them in an hour. If you ask if you can help, they’ll jump down from the table to do something else. You have a gifted child. We each have one. This is what we’ve learned:
They will start projects that require you buying a multitude of things. Don’t think that project is leading to a life path. It’s a project. They were interested. They’ve conquered it. Now they are done. Your garage and your attic and their rooms will be filled with the detritus of these projects. It’s important to always remember that learning is never a waste of time or money. Education is not just about the curriculum. Someday all that detritus will make you laugh and bring to mind some remarkable memories.
They will never care to be the smartest kid in the class. They will never compete to be the smartest kid in the class. They will seek out people who are smarter than they are to be their friends. Type A personality teachers will not like them. Type A personality kids will not want to play with them.
If they think you are basking in the glow of parental pride at their academic achievements, they will devote an entire school year to getting a B in every subject. They will work harder to get that B than they have ever worked to get an A. Take that Mom.
They will answer the essay question: What if it had been girls in Lord of the Flies with one sentence. “If it had been girls they would have all died the first week.” That will be the extent of the essay. (They will not mean it)
They will invent a hovercraft out of a leaf blower and get a D in English because “the homework was stupid”.
They will often forget their homework so get used to getting in the car and dropping it off. Only you care if they forget their homework but it’s because you know something they dont: at some point grades matter. You will be criticized for “enabling them”, not teaching them responsibility. “Let them fail and they will learn.” Not these kids. They don’t see a grade as a measurement if it’s based on forgotten homework. You will be told “It’s because it comes too easy to them so they’re lazy.” They are anything but lazy. They work very hard. The illusion is that they don’t. The beginning may come easy but that’s the appetizer. They are looking for the meal. Sometimes the meal arrives and they are engaged and enthusiastic. Sometimes the appetizer is it. And it’s not just homework they forget. It’s lunch. Soccer shoes. Projects. It does get tedious starting that engine, but you do it.
There will be years you will be lucky and they will have a teacher who understands how to deal with a gifted child. It will be a good year. This teacher will understand the truth in that the inappropriate remark that she’s trying not to laugh at and the absurdity that prompted it. This teacher will figure out a way around the homework without breaking the rules. This teacher will point them in a direction that will interest, intrigue and inspire them. This teacher will educate. Some years you will have a teacher that will try to crush them. This will be a long year. It is your job to stand between that teacher and your child. It is also your job to teach your child that they have to be respectful even in those circumstances where it is a struggle for you to be respectful.
They will have a diverse circle of friends. But if they were not in the circle, these kids would have nothing in common. Because of this trait, they can be lonely. You can ease it but you can’t fix it and that is heartbreaking for a mom.
They have a gift for working on a group project and making everyone feel that they have made a contribution to the whole even if they have done most of the work. They really do believe that anyone can understand what they understand so it never occurs to them to be condescending or dismissive. They are unaware that they possess this gift which makes it both extremely special and very poignant.
You will watch them excel at something and think that that may be the direction that their lives will take. It probably won’t be. They will move in another direction toward something they may have never shown an aptitude for. For them, life is about exploration and enrichment. You hope, with fingers crossed, that they will find a way, as adults, to continue to be engaged while being able to pay the rent.
They will tell you of things they’ve learned or read. Never say, “that’s great but did you finish your homework?” If you do, you will have a smaller world because their interests are vast. You will learn things you would have never learned otherwise. You will read the Dante’s Inferno, Camus, the Marx Engels reader. You will learn about art and music and science and history, politics and post modern philosphy. They possess a generous spirit and their gift is yours if you listen.
With these kids it is not about the destination, it really is about the journey. If you choose to go along, until the journey is theirs and theirs alone, you may have learned enough to start your own.
THE MENU: CORNED BEEF SANDWICHES (corned beef a welcome gift from CT), LEMON MOUSSE WITH BLUEBERRY COULIS
LEMON MOUSSE (based on the recipe in Epicurious) Lemon is the chocolate of menopause.
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 4 large eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter cut into cubes
Mix sugar and cornstarch in heavy saucepan, gradually add lemon juice, whisking until cornstarch dissolves. Whisk in eggs and egg yolks, add butter and cook over medium heat until curd thickens. Chill for 6 hours.
- 5 tbsp. water
- 4 tsp. gelatin
- 6 egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Put 5 tbsp. of water in small pan, sprinkle gelatin evenly and let stand for 10 minutes. In a different sauce pain, stir 3/4 cup lemon curd into sauce pan. Heat until warm on medium/low heat. Put remaining lemon curd in large bowl. Stir gelatin pan over medium heat until dissolved, whisk warm gelatin into warm lemon curd. Whisk lemon curd gelatin into the large bowl of lemon curd. Beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Add sugar and beat until thick and glossy. Fold into lemon curd mixture in 3 additions. Beat heavy cream in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold into lemon curd mixture in 3 additions. Pour into serving bowl and chill overnight. Top with blueberry coulis and serve.