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There's More to Childhood than Being "Gifted"

  • Lori Borgman Contributing Writer
  • 2005 9 Sep
  • COMMENTS
There's More to Childhood than Being "Gifted"

These days it's hard to find someone who is not pushing a child to become gifted. Gifted, accelerated, talented -- in some circles, it's tantamount to having a Lexus in the garage.

None of ours were gifted, which was just as well -- we had our hands full as it was.

When our son was a toddler, he used to push a small footstool around and make car sounds. When the footstool got hung up on a door frame, he didn't have the reasoning ability to pick up the stool and move it. He did, however, have the brains to switch from car noises to screeching brakes and honking sounds.

Gifted? No, but he had a good sense of owning the road -- and could go from carpet to hardwood in under 20.

As a preschooler, whenever we asked our youngest to count, she'd seal her lips and give us a blank stare. She'll need special help, I thought to myself.

When she went for her kindergarten interview, I stood on the other side of the partition and heard her sweetly say to the teacher, "Good morning. Would you like to hear me count?" She raced to 35 before the teacher could cut her off.

Gifted? No, but she knew how to work a room. In grade school, our kids announced plans to raid the garden and set up a produce stand down by the corner stop sign and call it Champion Produce. They ran out of room for the "i-o-n" on their sign and immediately declared themselves Champ Produce.

Gifted? No, but smart enough to know women in mini-vans would go as high as two bucks for a plastic cup filled with fresh raspberries.

When our middle one started to drive, she stopped to fill up the car and couldn't figure out how to get the gas cap off. (You twist it.)

Gifted? No, but she was able to bat her long eyelashes and get help from a clerk inside.

A mother at our neighborhood grade school used to carry her son's standardized test scores in her purse. She'd sit in the school lobby and hold his score sheet way out in front of her so those passing by could be dutifully impressed. She was the type mom that gave gifted a bad name.

We have a nephew who is genuinely gifted. He spent some time with us the summer before he entered fifth grade. He brought a World Almanac for pleasure reading and his parents left extra money with instructions to buy him a USA Today and Wall Street Journal each morning. He was tracking blue chip stocks. I was feeding frozen waffles to a miniature investment banker with a high voice and no facial hair.

Everybody is anxious to have a child designated gifted, yet a gifted child is often a special challenge to raise. The first challenge is to try and stay two steps ahead of them. We need to cultivate the minds of children with high intelligence. We desperately need more Jonas Salks and Madame Curies.

But in our rush to push kids harder and harder to achieve, it is easy to overlook qualities like personality, industriousness and imagination. Average and above-average intelligence with a good work ethic can be a gift, too.