Sunday, December 16, 2007

A gift

It was obvious from a very young age that my oldest son was gifted. He picked things up very quickly, knew which questions to ask, learned to walk, run, zoom, speak 2 languages and manipulate the world around him by the age of two.

Being gifted is definitely a gift - but one that is packaged in some heavy baggage. He's never quite fit the "normal" mold in terms of doing what other kids his age were doing; his cup runs over with emotional challenges; more than a pinch of ADHD, possibly some ODD tossed in - all relatively common side dishes to being gifted, and a first child, and a boy, and the carrier of my husband's "shpilches" gene. Quite a full plate - both for my son and for his parents.

Last week, I took him to take a "giftedness evaluation" (test), that is required for the junior high school program we would like him to go to. (He was found to be gifted in 3rd or 4th grade in a different evaluation we did, but we needed "refresher" confirmation). Although it was obvious he was nervous/excited, and although he took his ADHD medication that morning to help him concentrate on the task at hand, the moment we stood at the doorway of the "testing room" (5 rows of tables with 2 kids at each table) - he lost it. He didn't want to go in, he said he hated me, he wanted to go home, he said I'd owe him a big present, he didn't care about the school, etc etc (this went on for about 20 minutes, until thankfully one of the testers told him he had to go in).

And after all the other mothers calmly went off to do whatever it was they had to fill the 2 hours until the test was finished, I stood outside the closed door and can this test show if someone is gifted? Some math problems, English, Hebrew grammar, shapes and squares with lines (the test was paper and pencil, which struck me as amazingly primitive) - if my son doesn't feel like answering the questions today - how will they know that he really is smart (and not just a smarty-pants)? He has amazing artistic and language abilities, can express himself eloquently and directly, his understanding is well above that of other kids his age (with a slight detachment from reality in some cases, particularly when there is homework in question).

How do we unwrap this gift to help him fulfill his gifted potential? It's like that children's game where you pass around a present 8 or 10 times, each time unwrappinng one layer. And just when you think you'll see the gift itself, the music starts playing again and you have to let it go around the circle again, until another layer is removed.

It will be interesting to see the results of the see how many more layers of wrapping we still have to go.

(still trying to think of a song that will suit this post!)

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