“Can my son play with your cleaning products?”
The fellow toddler mom whose house we were visiting looked at me like I offered to drop scorpions in her baby’s Pack-n-Play. “It’s okay, really. He just likes to line them up and read the bottles. He’s not going to drink it or squirt it in his eyeballs, I promise.” After swearing up and down that I would finagle some sort of barricade around my kid and his Poison Parade, she agreed. It was the first time I realized maybe my kid was… different.
Here’s the thing: there is no major announcement from the universe that your kid is gifted. Especially when you are a not-quite-ready, very young mother, who is still busy mourning her club-hopping, stranger-humping days. Your kid starts reading you billboards at 18 months? Okay, cool (until he asks what an STD is**). Asks you to pause Word World while the credits roll so he can memorize the crew names and roles? Whatever, that must be standard child-rearing. It wasn’t until I encountered O.P.P. *** (Other People’s Preschoolers) that I thought maybe I should be approaching parenthood differently.
The Internet was no help. “Gifted children often display qualities similar to children with mild Autism.” Well, that explained why his preschool teacher asked if he had ever been ‘evaluated’, because he spent all his free time pacing the room in circles. Thanks, everyone, but what do I DO with him?? (Sidenote: I told that teacher that I knew her own son was in trouble with the law, because my ‘might have a problem’ genius baby read the text messages off her phone that she so casually left on her desk, and that if she bothered asking my kid what he was doing while pacing in circles, he would have told her he was “writing entire new episodes of Spongebob in my head, because there are so many ideas that haven’t been done yet.” Mic drop, bitch.)
There were no links to other parents with gifted kids in my city, no instruction booklet for what to do when your 4-year old can’t catch a ball, but can recite the periodic table. I considered creating a Craigslist Ad (this was pre-Tinder) for Margarita-Drinking-Mamas with Genius Kids, but remembered I hate new people. I wondered if there was some Oracle I could take him to, à la Neo, who would tell me how to teach my kid how to ride a bike instead of writing computer code.
Eventually I realized that sometimes we raise our kids, and sometimes they raise us. I did not have to teach my child to read, but had to coach him for years on how to say hello to other people. I don’t stress about his grades, but I worry every.single.day. that his obsessive-compulsive tendencies will interfere with his daily life. He still can’t ride a bike. Speaking to our server at a restaurant is akin to climbing Mount Everest, but he is teaching himself Japanese in his spare time. We have lengthy discussions on British vocabulary versus American, and I now know random trivia like which 5 countries are the smallest, and who eats Balut Eggs (do NOT Google it).
Roll with the gifts. If you have to sneak peeks at the dictionary app on your phone to keep up with your child’s vocab? Do it. She wants to take sitar lessons or study pygmy colonization in Congo? Sign her up. There is no wrong answer, if you are listening carefully. If you can’t find a Margarita Mom to turn to for advice, call me. I want to see the look on your face when you Google those eggs.
**Sugary Tasty Doughnut.
***If you immediately sang “Yeah you know me!,” we could be friends.
© Calling All Cool Moms 2017