Just 2 days ago, the majority of our family packed ourselves in the van and trekked 3 hours into the middle of the state to reunite with our 13-year-old. He had been at S.O.A.R. Camp, THE camp in WI offering typical camp activities and gifted enrichment activities all in one week. And, by the way, founded and directed by WATG President, herself, Cathy Schmit.
After seeing my son (and giving him a hug, but not too big of a hug because he is 13 and way too cool for big mom hugs in public, after all) and having the worried mom part of me reassured that he had fun, made friends, and felt like he fit in, I sat back and basked in the joy of being in the midst of a group of gifted kids.
Yes, there are lots of struggles in parenting or teaching these brilliant, developing minds. Yes, the emotions and insistence on precision and perfectionism and constant need for debate can be crazy-making, but when we wade through that stuff, and just sit and listen, these kids of ours are pretty amazing. It’s easy to get caught up in the struggles and miss the amazing.
For example, my son totally geeked out as he talked about the afternoons they spent in an 1800s version of mock trial in which they debated child labor and women’s suffrage. How cool is it that young teens eagerly tackle social justice topics and love to learn the skills of argumentation.
And how about the kid I heard declare, “I’ve determined there’s an algorithm for effective conversations.”
Or meeting the kid who developed his own language and took the time to teach his cabin. And hearing the boys in his cabin praise him and see the brilliance in the way his mind works. Oh, and he had his own business cards. How awesome is that?!
Or witnessing the products of unleashed creativity in skits, song, and dance.
And the humor! This is one of my favorite things about specializing as a therapist who works with gifted/2e kids, teens, and adults. I’m guaranteed to laugh. Each and every session these kids demonstrate such wit that it’s impossible not to laugh and appreciate it.
And even those gifted “things” that can drive me crazy are also so endearing when I have the mindset to simply soak it in and appreciate it. Like the kid at the picnic table who corrected a statement I made and backed it up with citations of the studies he’d read to prove me wrong. Love it!
Or the sweet ways in which many of these kids fit the stereotypes . . . the races to solve rubiks cubes, the chess tournaments, the geeking out for Harry Potter night, the kid who felt the injustice of it being a Harry Potter night and not a Lord of the Rings night. And the sweet ways in which many of these same kids shattered the stereotypes with their outgoing, extroverted natures, their physical skills, their typical kid silliness.
It's easy to get caught up in the extra effort it takes to guide these amazing kids. It’s easy to feel the overwhelm and pressure as we guide them. It’s easy to want to give the “gift” of giftedness back to whomever gave it to these kids in the first place. But, when we take the time to just sit and bask in the presence of these kids, it’s also easy to feel the joy.