As a mom, the comparisons of our children start basically at conception. We are forever discussing our pregnancies, deliveries and their milestones. It seems to be a never ending circle of finding out if our kid is where they need to be or better yet, past that mark.
I knew from N's first day of school, he needed to be tested for our system's gifted program. He was reading before kindergarten and hit every intellectual milestone well ahead of schedule. According to our schools though, nothing could be done until 3rd or 4th grade. So while we waited, the kid was bored in his classes. He would get in trouble for talking to his friends or something else since he finished all of his work early.
The time eventually came when they could give him the appropriate tests. He scored above what was needed to earn placement in the gifted program. And all was right in his world for the rest of elementary school.
And then middle school happened. I started noticing certain behaviors over the summer and then once school was in session, the expected notes from his teachers started rolling in. It seemed there wasn't only an issue with self-control, but also self-confidence.
So far this year, he's attended detention twice and I have email correspondence regarding:
- blurting out during class
- speaking out of turn
- pouting over NOT being called when hand is raised
- wanting to take the entire hour for a 10 question quiz
- asking random questions about everything
Instead of thinking through the logical steps of a problem before asking, his mouth automatically opens. Instead of attempting to find the answer on his own, he expects someone to tell him. I honestly think he's so used to things coming so easy for him, he doesn't want or know how to think it through. When I started noticing all of these things, I did my own Internet research and learned that its quite common for intellectually advanced children to be emotionally below-average.
It was great to find out that this was expected and normal, but it hasn't made living with him any easier. Adding to this, is the fact he fits the characterization of the stereotypical middle child. There is no self=confidence in his ability. Things that I KNOW he knows, he claims he doesn't.
Here's a homework scenario as an example:
N: Dad, will you help me with my Math homework:
J: sure, Where's the book? Ok. Tell me what to do with this problem and let's see the issue.
N explained step by step what to do on the problem- CORRECTLY.
J: Ok. What's the problem? You just told me exactly how to do it.
N: No, I didn't. I don't get it.
J: But you just told me how to do it. Just do it what you said.
N: I don't get it.
There is a nightly battle of loading the dishwasher. When it's N's turn, he
attempts to load as few of the dishes as possible b/c he claims there is no
more room. At this point, one of us step in and ask if there is another
way. We have to then follow up with, "You're smart Nathan. You can
figure it out." And he reconfigures the dishes to make it work.
I shouldn't place the same expectations on both of the boys. I have to constantly tell myself that one is older and also have to remind myself that just because I know what he can do, doesn't mean he does.
Just when I thought I might have a free pass and have part of this parenting gig be easy... that I finally ended up in the yard with the green grass, I'm reminded that it still has to get mowed. That everything takes work and effort- especially our kids.
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