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December 5th, 2018

not gifted

Last year my daughter's teacher recommended that we have her assessed for the gifted program. I was hesitant. I brought up two concerns:

Risk: When I was a kid I asked about the gifted program, went through some review then was told that I was not gifted. This message probably made me work harder in life but the self-esteem thing happened, I've written before about how I decided not to go into computer science because I didn't think I'd be able to compete. Engineering seemed like a more level playing field, everybody had to go to college at least, and looking back it was a perfectly great decision but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't based on a little insecurity. A few years ago I was meeting with an executive coach about my role in supervising 60+ engineers and listed one of my weaknesses as just not being all that smart, she looked at me totally sideways with a "are you hearing yourself?! STOP," kind of response.

Benefit: I'm not sure I like gifted programs taking kids out of normal classrooms, as a manager now I need employees who can slow down and help a team along. I'm always having to tell new college grads that I don't care how they took calculus in the 8th grade - we don't certify airplanes based on trust that the designer is smart. You have to write your stuff down, show your work, be in a GROUP of mixed skills and bring everyone along with you. Public school is a great place to learn this lesson: wherever we're going, we have to get there together.

All this explains why I was definitely not pushing the school to assess my kid for the gifted program. But they convinced me that it wasn't much time out, that it would help her, and Josie came to me upset one night because the reading assignments at school were way too simple and boring. She's an odd kid, she totally does her own thing 99% of the time, doesn't care what anyone around her is doing or telling her what to do (sigh). She gets frustrated with herself. Marc and I used to quote eddie izzard a lot: "can't... get the trees... just right... I'M GOING TO KILL EVERYONE!" But she doesn't care what anybody else thinks.

I've been in groups with other moms around and their daughters are coming up to them with play-by-plays about the social scene, who insulted who, how they feel, why they're hurt, what they want to do. Never my kid. Marc and I asked Josie once if other girls at her school were mean and she said nope, it's all good. I was like oh crap, maybe SHE'S the mean girl! But watching her friends all play, she just takes what she wants from the world, her goals overshadow her empathy. She plays fine with the kids and doesn't analyze where she's at in the scene.

Except now that's she's eight, every 3-6 weeks I catch her in some weird mood where she is frustrated with the outside world, and she very emotionally spills a million concerns, usually concern about her school abilities and things she doesn't get. The next day I'll ask her about the same thing or how school was and she shrugs and says it's all fine, and reminds me that for christmas she wants a unicorn light.

Back to the topic at hand. The school called us and said she's not gifted. Dammit you jerks, this is the same crap that happened to me, why assess and label a borderline kid?

I THINK she won't notice or give a crap, I'm just worried about these little rare occasions we have where I find out everything this kid internalizes, like if you don't let it out it just eats forever and it's worse than the kids who are always talking about their feelings. I don't want things to eat at her. I want her to know she's smart.