Today, I read a blog post written by Glennon Doyle Melton on the blog Momastery. The post is entitled, "Every Child Is Gifted and Talented. Every Single One."
Ms. Melton doesn't get it. Even though I'm what is
classified as Profoundly Gifted, the word "genius" doesn't apply to
me, yet she keeps throwing it around and showing her ignorance of special needs children. Ms. Melton says that everything she's ever written on her blog is
open for argument except this. The argument she has now started is "a tough break" for poor little her I guess, although I don't believe for a second she wrote what she did not realizing the response (blog hits) she would receive.
Ms. Melton and I believe many of the same things. I believe that every kid has gifts and talents they can use to make our world a better place. I believe that success in a classroom doesn't define personal success. I believe all young people are capable. I believe these things so strongly that I am trying to convince the people who represent us in Government that all young people are capable, have gifts and talents, and should have as many opportunities as possible to engage in the political process.
I'm afraid though that Ms. Melton doesn't know how hurtful her statement is to a kid like me. I'm not angry with Ms. Melton. She just doesn't understand. I've been dealing with people who don't understand my entire life.
Ever since I can remember, adults I encountered would comment after talking to me, "You're so smart." Really? I was just talking to you normally. I wasn't trying to get you to notice anything special or different about me. I learned to say as little as possible so I wouldn't draw attention to myself.
When I was little, I would try to start playing with the other kids. They would imagine all kinds of things and I would want to imagine too. Pretty soon, they would all look at me funny. Sometimes, I would want to play a game and would soon realize the other kids I was trying to play with weren't able to play the game with me. It wasn't their fault, but it made me sad. I learned to just go along with what the other kids did or play by myself.
I don't remember learning to read because I was so little when I started. To me, it was something I could always just do. I remember bringing books with me places where I was going to have to wait and keep myself occupied. I remember people saying things like, "Wow! Are you reading THAT?" I learned to not bring my books places with me anymore.
I've always been interested in lots of things. I've been interested in political figures from an early age. I was once obsessed with the Titanic. Other kids would talk about the things they were interested in and adults would talk about some of the same things I was interested in, but when I talked about those things, the other kids either didn't understand or thought I was weird and the adults would do the "WOW" thing. I learned to not talk about some of the things I was interested in and talk about the more normal things instead.
I just started this blog last year, but I've been writing for a very long time. It's something I've always liked to do. I never wanted anyone to read the things I wrote though. To me, they weren't good enough. Lots of things I did weren't good enough. I knew in my head how things were "supposed to be" and if I couldn't make them as good as they were "supposed to be" what I did wasn't any good at all. I learned if I just stuck to the easy things, I could do them the way they were "supposed to be" and I stayed away from the hard things so I wouldn't feel like a failure.
Something happened when I was about Kindergarten age. My mom started introducing me to kids that could play my games with me. These kids had new games too that were so much fun! Their parents would talk to me and not treat me all weird. They talked to me like an actual human being. These people gave me presents for my birthday that I didn't have to just pretend to like!
I also started being homeschooled around that time. I didn't have to spend time on the things that I already knew how to do. I could spend my time learning things I didn't know. I could spend more time learning about my interests. Sometimes I had to do hard things that made me really think and try in order to complete my work. Instead of memorizing lists and facts, I could think more about ideas. I could go as fast or slow as I wanted and wasn't limited by any kinds of grade levels.
I've come a long way from that little girl I was. A lot of that is because I've had a lot of support from my parents, friends of my parents, having peers, having understanding and qualified teachers, and amazing support from the Davidson Young Scholars program. I also discovered the world of theater not too long ago and that world is a sanctuary for me. Not only am I encouraged to be creative and have the opportunity to use the things I'm really talented at, I'm in a world where people push me to improve and not just settle for what I think my best is or what their already formed idea of what a kid my age "should" do is. It's a place I can develop my gifts.
Despite the fact I am extremely lucky to have all the support I do and places where I fit in, that little girl is still part of me. I think she always will be.
I'm not a really good student. I get distracted a lot and I have an easier time with complex things than I do simple ones. Sometimes I put off assignments until the last minute either because I'm afraid to try them or because they seem boring to me. I start a lot of assignments and projects that I don't finish. I'm really lucky to be homeschooled because if I had to go to a regular school I would probably be a "problem" student.
I can't watch SPCA commercials on TV and other things about animal abuse because I will be upset for a long time afterwards. I'm not talking about getting just a little upset, but upset to the point I don't want to talk to my friends or leave my room for awhile. When I get angry, I get REALLY angry and sometimes it's hard to calm down even though I recognize that's what I need to do. When I don't feel like things are fair, it makes me very uncomfortable and I feel guilty if I don't speak up or do something about it.
I still have a hard time interacting with kids my age sometimes. It often takes a lot of patience and a lot more effort than it does interacting with my gifted age-peers. It's hard to participate in a lot of activities designed to separate kids in groups by age. I find things move too slow, the activities are over before it feels to me like we've even started, and the other kids are often very immature and distracting.
I still don't like attention. I know that sounds weird from someone who has put themselves out there the way I have, but I don't. I hate watching videos and interviews of myself. I always find something wrong, something I could have done better, something that wasn't the way it's "supposed to be."
I get a lot of criticism from people who do things like call me a prop and think adults are pushing me. Some ignorant people seem to think I should just "be a kid" and "stay home and play with my dolls." Ms. Melton is no different with her denial of who and what my peers and I really are and her statements that encourage gifted children and their families to face similar attacks.
She makes it easier for people to belittle our abilities, deny our accomplishments, and ignore our needs. Yes, I am "advanced" in many ways and some things come very easy to me. But being gifted is not always a gift. It comes with a lot of dark things, things Ms. Melton obviously didn't take the time to truly understand before she proceeded to contribute to a stereotype that hurts me and other kids like me. It's a stereotype that can prevent other kids from getting the kind of support that has helped me and helped many of my friends. We don't need anyone's chosen deity to suddenly miraculously help unwrap us like presents. We need real solutions both inside and outside the classroom to help us reach our individual potential, better understand ourselves, and find our place in the world around us.
Some people say I'm a beautiful person with a beautiful mind. Really, I'm a beautiful mess.