I’m just going to blurt it out: We found out that Quinn is gifted.
There. I am officially a braggart parent, albeit a reluctant one.
But we have no intention of telling him.
Quinn started testing for his elementary school’s gifted program last year during 1st grade. We rarely heard about the testing procedures unless he mentioned it offhand. “Oh yeah, I had testing with Ms. [Holds My Fate In Her Hands] today. Hm? Oh, it went fine.” (commence hunt for after-school snacks as thoroughly interested mother looks on)
Final testing happened this summer, though, and immediately jockeyed for prominence in my mind’s attention queue. It’s pretty heavy-handed to say that qualifying for the gifted program would really have much to do with the fate of our son’s successes, but still. What can I say? I wanted it for him.
When he came out of final testing, the clinician held out her hand for the self-addressed stamped envelope I completed while I waited. I had been watching those damn clinicians. They always came out all smiles and joking. Not ours. Quinn breezed passed her, nodded over his shoulder, and she gave me little more than a smile and a nod herself.
Walking through the parking lot, Quinn balanced between parking level banisters and my nonchalant questions.
Mom: How did it go?
Mom: What kind of questions did they ask?
Quinn: “What doesn’t go/ what comes next” stuff.
Mom: I’m really proud of you, you know… So… How did you do?
Quinn: I did fine. I think I missed two.
Mom: How do you know? And, um, really? Just two?
Quinn: Because she said, “Do you want to try again?” two times. I know. (shrugs) Let’s eat!
Two months passed without hearing a word about results. Finally, a week before school, we received a form letter in that SASE that stated, “Your child, __Quinn__, _does__ qualify.” Hot damn.
Qualifying for the gifted program doesn’t necessarily mean, well, it doesn’t guarantee… honestly, I have no idea what it means or doesn’t mean. All I knew was that we were proud of him, wanted to encourage him, but had no intention of telling him.
A week later, we were sure we would not tell him.
A few days after school started, my husband sat down with the gifted program leader to discuss what the program would entail, as well as to review Quinn’s test results. Well. His test results illustrated that Quinn tested in the top 1% in the nation. Top 1% of gifted children in the nation.
The program leader called in another representative to explain to my husband what this could mean for our son and why it is remarkable that, particularly as a boy, he tested so well. In short, his academic skills were unquestionably strong, but it was his social skills that were remarkable. Boys his age aren’t usually so adept at reading social cues, anticipating responses, and finding social ease.
(That’s Quinn in the white shirt, finding social ease.)
But if we don’t stay vigilant, he could grow impatient with school, with his friends, and “take his toys and go home.” It would be our job to be mindful and encourage him at home, in turn making his days at school more productive.
As you know, I have partnered with Hallmark through the end of the year on their Life Is A Special Occasion campaign. This month’s sponsored theme is “encouragement” and, honestly, if it weren’t for this writing challenge I don’t think I would even try to work this development out in words. We all know how foolish it is to merely bite our lips, squint our eyes, and then hope our questions work themselves out. But I need to talk about this. Work it out.
I can’t pretend that I know what I’m doing here. Absolutely, it is awesome. We are crazy proud of him. Crazy proud. I just know that my gut it telling me that we don’t tell our son anything about this “gifted” business. Rather, we learn ways to encourage him on the sly. An encouragement “photobomb,” if you will, when and where he least expects it.
In the video I shared with you in my previous post on encouragement, I prattled on about how we have made it a habit to praise our kids for their efforts rather than their innate abilities. The theory is that a day will come when they struggle with something that previously came easy to them and it’s at that point that we don’t want them to be paralyzed by self-doubt.
If we have always told them how smart they are, then they might view their stumbling blocks as results of not being smart enough. Instead, we focus on how hard they work. We encourage their effort. Our hope is that when they find themselves stumbling, they won’t throw up their hands and sigh, “I’m just not smart enough.” Our hope is that they will say to themselves, “I won’t give up. I just have to keep trying.”
If we can encourage perseverance in our family, then we will all be soundly gifted.
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Opinions are always my own, usually long-founded and stubborn. ;)
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PS- Quinn’s godmother, Laura, recommended I read NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. It apparently touches on very much the same themes of encouragement of effort vs. innate ability. Have any of you read it?
PPS- In case you don't want to click on the dictionary link, a "photobomb" is when someone hops into a picture right as it's taken, usually making some crazy face in the background, to the utter ignorance of the subjects of the photo. They sort of rock.
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