Thursday, October 15, 2009

When a little girl's no longer gifted

As a kid, I was never considered a “gifted” student, one of those luminaries designated for lavish attention by individual teachers. I was instead shuffled between a series of increasingly indifferent educators.

I was a re-gifted student.

That was fine with me. More supervision would have prevented me from achieving all the disruptive hijinks that made those repressive years bearable to me and all the giggly dudes who went on to careers involving hauling trash and losing multiple digits in places like sawmills.

Worse, had I been considered gifted, I might have been led into some academic pursuits in which I might have excelled. Ambition would likely have ensued.

In even the best case scenario those eventualities might lead me to a much different life station.

I might have, gadzooks, a job.

But what’s good for me isn’t necessarily good for young impressionables.

That’s why I was so thrilled last year when your oldest daughter, Josie, 9, was tabbed for gifted status. This made sense to me.

I’m convinced women are genetically pre-disposed to greater intelligence than men and that the world would be better off if women ran the whole shebang. It would all work out perfectly, but for one fatal biological flaw: most women still fall in love with men, thus ensuring a mutual and irrevocable insanity.

I never bragged about it or got one of those obnoxious bumper stickers saying my 2nd grader’s gifted, but I felt a surge of pride knowing she was on the fast track.

And that’s why I was devastated when I learned this year she’d not made the cut.

The disappointment caught me by surprise. I raged for an answer.

Was she watching too much TV? Goofing off in class? Was her mother being neglectful in helping with her tedious homework while I spent the days golfing and the nights carousing?

(I didn’t mention that last one aloud. I may not be gifted, but that doesn’t mean I’m stupid)

I worry that she’s inherited the lack of drive that I assume’s always holding me back (if true, that’s going to be the only thing she ever inherits from me).

She demurred earlier this year when I asked if she wanted to be involved in any extra-curricular activities. When I asked why not, she said brightly, “I’m happy coming home and just being Josie.”

Many students her age are being raised in ultra-competitive environments. It’s not like that here where we live.

We live in a mostly rural county where at least 1/3 of the entire student body is on a first name basis with at least one cow. Now would be a great time to for her to fatten up her scholastic confidence and construct a nice sassy GPA to brandish at all those Ivy League school admission boards.

See, I may be free of crass ambitions for myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t harbor them for our daughters. As it doesn’t look likely I’ll be succeeding on any level, I believe it is essential that the girls do.

I need the pair to grind away their nights at their homework. I need them to volunteer for extra assignments. I need them to set lofty occupational goals early and show relentless drive to reach them years before their classmates.

After all, it wouldn’t do for them to wind up like their old man. What kind of father would want his daughters to wake up every morning with an idiot’s lame-brained contentment with such a simple little life?

If they wind up like that, I guarantee they won’t be gifted.


End up like that and they’ll be blessed.


The Unbreakable Child said...

A priceless answer! “I’m happy coming home and just being Josie.”

Chris Rodell said...

Isn't that darling? How could I be anything but delighted with a child who answers like that?

Great to hear from you! I hope all's going well.

I'm still getting tantalizing nibbles on my projects with a couple still weighing representation, but nothing concrete. Still trying!