Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Every one of our children is unique and uniquely gifted. One of the greatest joys of being a parent is to watch these four individuals grow and mature into such incredible people; to watch our family of six rub off on each other.
One of our children has been singled out as "gifted." As in, the kind you can measure with percentages and graphs; the kind that gains you acceptance into special schools, if that is what you would like.
As I went over test scores with our school's gifted teacher today, he used terms like "99.9th percentile", and "exceptional." We knew she was special, but now we are at a crossroads, deciding what to do about it- while not making a big deal out of it. She is, after all, a very sweet little girl who is so many more things than just this.
I stopped him and asked him if he could explain to me "how" she is able to do some of the things she does- because until this year, I was her only teacher. I watched her work effortlessly, knowing that this wasn't something I could owe to my expert teaching style, or how hard we worked. I like to think I've been a useful guide and advocate, but in many ways, I liken my influence to something like this: I handed her a pile of 2x4s and a tool kit. She made a swing set. On her own. Without instructions. This is how it's been thus far. She just can.
His answer to my question? She is just gifted. We can't know why or how this happens or make it happen for another child; it's just a gift. Other children can work and learn and grow, but they can't attain this level of intuitive ability.
What do I take away? This is something we do not earn.
I know God encourages the questions, but, asking him why this child thrives and another struggles; there isn't an answer for that. Not one that makes it easier.
And I'm left with all this, feeling a greater weight to burden. What should we do? How do we know we're doing enough? Too much? So far, this child has accepted this news with incredible grace, because that is her way. She isn't burdened. She's delighted- especially now that she has extra work to do and unlimited library access. She is delighted in her gift, she does not mention it in front of others in case it makes them feel excluded, and today she essentially told me she just wants to use her gifts to love life and to make the world a better place. And then we went back to our popcorn. I think she'll be fine.
We are each gifted. It's not of our own effort, and we don't get to choose those things that we are uniquely equipped to do. The gifts don't always make life easier- in fact, they can make it quite a bit more work. But we can accept, embrace, and steward our gifts well.
We can also stay humble, recognize our limitations, and gracefully set to working on those things that do not come so easily for us.
And that is my prayer for this child, for myself, for each of us. Don't ask too many questions, don't settle for less than excellence, don't take yourself too seriously- and just say thank you.