The other day I inadvertently got involved in a conversation with a couple other moms about the gifted program at their school. It sounds like a wonderful program, very similar to how we homeschool, lots of projects and field trips...
It led to a discussion of the quirks of gifted kids. I don't talk a lot about my kids giftedness because I think such a label just alienated people, but it was so interesting to "compare notes" with these other parents about the idiosyncrasies that always come with being a couple standard deviations away from the norm. I was a profoundly gifted kid, and I remember how difficult it was until high school because I had no intellectual peers. There were definitely other smart kids, probably even gifted kids, but they didn't have the same oddness that profoundly gifted kids seem to possess.
When Curly Q. was very little she asked bizarre questions all the time. As she grew those questions became fewer and farther between. It happened so gradually that I almost didn't notice. I always knew she was very smart. She began talking unbelievably early. She read early. She had an over developed sense of empathy practically from birth. These are all signs of "giftedness." I thought that because we homeschooled she would not have the same struggles that I had as a child. I blamed all my problems on a public school system that is not cut out to deal with people like me.
As it turns out I was wrong. Curly Q. has been going through normal tween bouts of hormones. She has trouble controlling her emotions; sadness, happiness and anger all come pouring out of her at regular intervals. During one of her crying spells, she admitted that she had purposely been editing herself so that she didn't seem weird with her friends. She then rattled of a laundry list of weird questions she had. As I lay in her bed with her I felt like crying too. I remembered what it was like to feel so different.
Curly gets along with everyone. Her natural empathy makes her a great friend, but sometimes I am not sure she gets what she needs from her friendships. Her best friends spend all their time discussing boys (like "normal" girls do), and although she is beginning to notice boys they are not her focus. She belongs to two different book clubs, but she feels the other members never want to read the same kind of things she does. She enjoys some of the same activities, but for different reasons.
Anyway, it was so nice to talk to these other moms about the social issues that arise for their gifted kids. We talked about how they all make power point or keynote presentations for fun. We talked about the lists that litter their bedrooms. We talked about how much more comfortable they seemed with adults. We even talked about the strange collections they have. It was so nice to know that there are others. As it turns out Curly will be dancing with one of the other girls we were discussing, and I am so excited for her. I know that she will eventually find her niche.