To paraphrase, someone once said it’s okay for parents to “brag” about a child’s athleticism. They scored three runs in a baseball game. Shout it from the rooftops. They made several baskets in a basketball game. Tell everyone. And those people will all be happy and excited and pat you on the back. They have an intrinsic drive to learn everything about the body and how it works or start planning their career as a “heart doctor” on Mars when its colonized. Don’t tell a soul. Be leaps and bounds ahead of the class in math or reading. Say not a word. Because when you do, well, it’s at that point that the parent becomes a “bragger.” Boasting about or sharing academic achievements is seen in a different light. It’s unfair.
Little bit comes up with the craziest ideas. He wants to travel through space and time and he plans to develop a way to reach the closest habitable planet in a reasonable amount of time. He wants to know how to travel faster than the speed of light. His favorite person is Albert Einstein and he’s a self-proclaimed scientist, arguing that he doesn’t need to be an adult to be a scientist. He speaks in hypotheses rather than “I think I know why that happens.”
It can feel so lonely to be the parent of a kid like little bit. Even my closest friends don’t get it. I can’t talk about it because, after all, he’s so smart, so what do I have to worry about? A lot, actually. I worry near daily about little bit. He is a high-energy, spirited child that clashes with authority unless he understands the “why” in what he’s doing. He’s easily bored and is not the kid that will entertain himself or sit quietly. He doesn’t do anything quietly. He’s all over the place and back again. Unless he’s engaged. But getting there? Getting to that level of engagement he needs? Oh boy. That’s a challenge. He comes wrapped up in anxiety and is beginning to focus more and more on what’s just and fair. What people should and shouldn’t do. He describes karma without even knowing what karma is. He worries over animals and has begun chastising my husband for hunting. He’s in near tears at those Sarah McLachlan animal commercials. He stops whatever he’s doing when they come on. He struggles when he can’t finish his thought. He gets physically pent up inside.
He’s also so compassionate. He’ll always get his brother something, even if it means he gets less. He’s caring and loving and wants to share his world with you. He’s amazing. And sometimes I feel guilty because I don’t know what to do with him. I don’t know how best to parent him. I don’t know how best to be what he needs. I want to make the meanness of the world dissipate just for him. I want him to be understood and accepted. I want him to be allowed to grow. It’s a lonely place, this parenting thing. I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked me if I think he’s on the spectrum or if he has ADHD. He isn’t and he doesn’t. He’s just not like everyone else and has no desire to conform.
So when I come across something that makes me say “yes,” I hang on to it. I store it away as a reminder. This morning I read an article about verbally gifted kids and the risk for underachievement. School is all about showing what you know. Reiterating what you’ve learned. Repeating what you’ve learned. But here’s the thing. Verbally gifted kids don’t always learn the way other kids and other gifted kids learn. They “tend to be holistic or global learners.” They search out the big picture first and then come back for the details. They don’t like memorization and they’re often unwilling to cooperate unless they “understand why the facts or necessary.” The normal rewards such as stickers, don’t work. They tend to be impulsive and disregard details. Emotionally, they struggle with anxiety and search out challenges.
All of these things fall in line with what I see in little bit. So maybe it’s not a person, but this article made me feel just a little less lonely.