Since our four year old started school we have noticed a lot of changes in him, he seemed less excitable and more emotional than usual. We put this down to the amount of changes in his life over the last couple of years; We had moved home, he had become a brother after four years of undivided attention and he had gone through three family deaths; but the more I looked into it the more I realised that it could be down to his intelligence.
Dylan has always been a clever little boy, he had a good grasp of numbers and words very early on and is reading books aimed at seven year olds at school.
I’m by no means suggesting that raising a gifted child is harder or easier than raising any other child, but it is an unique experience from what I have seen.
A friend of mine who has a very clever three year old (seriously, this child can point out the Democratic Republic of Congo on a map and tell you all about it) put it perfectly. She said “Raising a gifted child is amazing and it’s difficulties are unique, other parents have no idea about all the emotional outbursts or that our children are deeply concerned by issues that other children haven’t grasped yet. You have to plead with a child not to throw their brilliant drawing away just because it has one tiny mistake on it. Not to mention the exhaustion it causes having to stay one step ahead of a child who is always 6 steps ahead!”
But the great thing is, that in-between those moments of neuroticism and emotional incoherencies, I have a lovely and enthusiastic little boy who is definitely interesting to live with. So here is what it is REALLY like to live with a gifted child…
They cannot be tricked
You can forget skipping pages in books or telling them their favourite program isn’t on, you can’t even send them to bed early without keeping them away from clocks.
They have their tics
- Dylan has an obsession with coffee shops (this may have been my fault, or grandad’s, or nanny’s…) and god help you if you don’t stop off at one while you’re out. Remember this child can read the signs!
- He orders the same lunch every day “Peanut butter, Jam sandwich, no crust, big square.”
- He lines up the sea shells in my mum’s bathroom every time he goes to the toilet!
They can be frustrating
Dylan can tell you what 800+800 is but he cannot put his dirty laundry is the basket! How can a child with such capabilities not do the simplest of tasks? Oh wait he is only a child, I almost forgot that…
They teach you new things
Yesterday as I was writing this Dylan came over to the computer and asked me if there was such a thing as a zero-dimension. I had no idea so he told me to look it up. “Just type in zero-dimensional space into Google mummy.” I did and I still have no idea what I read!
They are wonderfully unique
- One of his favourite TV programs is Pointless and he says he doesn’t like Frozen.
- Two of his favourite songs are The Arnold Rimmer song and Adam Buxton’s Party PomPom.
- He loves Bob Dylan and Metallica (Daddy’s influence.)
They amaze you
- Dylan is a child who uses Paint (the computer program) to create space invader style games (which he has named ‘Battle Ray X. Awesome right?)
- I am constantly being asked to look at his creations, either on Spore or with Lego and they are always amazing (Can you tell we have a graphic designer and a computer game programmer in the family?)
- His nursery report said: “Dylan told us during snack time that apples float in water because they are twenty five per cent air.” He actually read this on a graze box but it’s a good party trick.
Other children don’t always understand them
The social skills of gifted children have been found to lag behind those of others but they are also prone to an advanced sense of humour and tend to use sarcasm, making them misunderstood by their peers. This is definitely Dylan! I personally find him very amusing, as do most adults, because they understand his jokes in a way that children can’t.
They can cry A LOT!
Like a lot of gifted children he has intense emotions which can render him unable to properly communicate how he feels to other children, hence the frustration and tears we get at school. (Apparently in some cases gifted children’s brains can consume glucose quicker which causes sudden melt downs when hungry. And I thought his Food Rage was just an Earnshaw thing!)
They draw attention that you just don’t know how to deal with
You get a lot of parents commenting on what your child can do and you never know how to respond, obviously you are proud but you don’t want to come across as bragging so you find yourself kind of laughing it off saying“I don’t know where he gets it from.” And I suppose that is partly the truth, I don’t force Dylan to study so it must be down to nature. He is an inquisitive boy and he asks a lot of questions and the policy in our house is ‘If he’s intelligent enough to ask the question then he deserves an answer, even if it means looking it up ourselves first.’
They try to outsmart you
One example of which is this conversation I had with Dylan when I went into his messy bedroom:
Me: “What happened to your room?”
Dylan: “I tidied it”
Me: “Well what did it look like before?”
Dylan: “100% messy, now it’s only about 10% messy”
What they have in intelligence they lack in common sense
This is a child who put his bare bum on the tumble dryer door whilst it was on. Enough said.