So, over the last two years, one of my sibs has been having “problems” with one of their kids.
Here’s my perspective: the kid is
- Highly Intelligent
- Very Independent
- Supremely Self-Aware
- Street Smart
- Smarter Than 90% Of Adults
My sib’s perspective on the same child:
- Trouble Maker
- Detests Authority
Here’s a bit of background on someone most of you are very well acquainted with, and even if you’re not, your life has been irrevocably influenced by this person:
- Adopted by a non-nonsense, Midwestern Calvinist, was-hobo, tattooed, enlisted “Hooligan Navy,” blue collar American;
- Described as “hyperkinetic” and as having “a gift for getting into trouble;”
- Ate ant poison and stuck bobby pins into electrical sockets just to try it out;
- A loner, renegade and crybaby;
- Suspended from school several times for misbehaviour;
- Defied teachers, refused to do schoolwork that was “a waste of time;”
- was “bored in school…turned into a little terror;”
- Exploded bombs and let snakes loose in the classroom;
- “Basically destroyed the teacher,” in third grade;
- cheated at sports;
- Eventually expelled from school, but identified as gifted;
- Finally refused to go back to school – at the age of 11- forcing his family to move;
- Discovered Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas Sex and Pot in high school;
- An individualist who refused to follow the rules or be intimidated by them;
- Demonstrated and enthusiasm for ‘mind-expanding’ drugs;
- Was skipping most high school classes by age 16;
This list of “bad” characteristics could go on (it does in the book “ICon” by Jeffrey S. Young and William L Simon). The point is that nearly every adult who came into contact with this person bought into the “bad” label that had been applied to him.
Here’s the question: why do adults in positions of power and influence – parents and teachers – refuse to consider that kids who don’t toe the line are not simply “troubled?”
What a cop-out!
Why are these adults so blind to what is so obvious; these kids don’t conform because they’re far more intelligent and talented than the system can manage and that they’re bored out of their minds by a world that is paced for the average student/human - a world where newspaper articles on international affairs are written for an 8th grade reading level?
Have you figured out who this person is? Sounds like a total bad-ass, hey? Well, he is Steve Jobs, founder and foundation of Apple Computers. Who’s Steve Jobs? Where’s your IPod; Jobs is your IPod’s daddy and your MAC’s daddy and your G6’s daddy. He’s how cool Bill Gates wishes he was. Oh, for the record, Gates is a Harvard dropout and a quitter – he dumped IBM.
Back to my nephew: same issues. Doesn’t always appreciate authority; gets into trouble, hates school; bored by the pace of most things; bothered by most adults; much underestimated by the significant adults around him and very much underestimated by nearly every teacher whose class he’s been in.
Here's a quote from Gifted Services in Australia:
" MANY GIFTED children come to me because of social and emotional difficulties and yet, the assumption that that gifted children are more likely than others to have a variety of personal and social problems, is not supported by research. Social and emotional difficulties are not directly attributable to giftedness. Rather, they result from a lack of understanding by the child of the nature and significance of their intellectual and emotional difference."
There are more resources for understanding gifted kids at KidSource OnLine
I took him for ‘coffee’ last year, when life was particularly tough for him: the family was in the midst of a breakup and there was plenty of shit going on all around him. I told him to believe in himself and never believe the shit other people said about him or to him – particularly the very mean chastisements he regularly got from one of his parents and the regular insults by the other (these continue); I told him his first loyalty was to himself and to his definition and decisions regarding the path his life should take.
Over the Christmas holiday, he said this: “I win Auntie, I win.”
He has found his path, has established his OWN goals and has a very firm, determined plan for what’s going to happen in the next 5 years. He’s going to do bad things and he’s going to piss people off and he’s going to be so much more successful than his family previously believed he would be. And yes, I have an ego about all this, because I know and I always knew that this brilliant, fearless boy will be come an astounding, wonderful adult. I win too, ‘cause I get to say “I told you so!”