Warning: Strong, possibly offensive language, but absolutely 100% authentic in nature.
“Mommy, there is this class at school in a special room for talented and gifted kids and I don’t get to go” squeak shares with me this morning.
My authentic reaction is as follows (all internal and occurs in roughly 5 seconds):
WHAT THE FUCK????!!!!! What do you mean he wasn’t included? And why the hell are they still calling it that in this age of political correctness and bullshit about “not labeling” kids and “everyfuckingbody wins”. Those fucks…I am going to call them, no I am going to post a Facebook rant (cause that always works), no I am totally going to go down there and demand they change the name of the fucking program immediately!!!! He is totally talented and gifted…and goddamn it pisses me off that he is questioning that because of this stupidity.
Yeah…that is exactly how I felt in that moment. EXACTLY. And in retrospect, as I think this over in a more practical way, I think my “irrational, kick some ass for making my kid feel bad kind way” self has a few decent points in there.
1. The label sucks. “Talented and Gifted”…seriously? The basis for this program, as I interpret it from my son’s explanation, (without obtaining any further information from his teacher or the school), is academic. And I think that is awesome. I do think if the kids are excelling academically they should be given ways to further challenge themselves. Please, continue programs like this. But let’s be specific on that.
On the way to school this morning I asked my squeak what he thought talented and gifted was and asked him to list all the ways a person can be talented and gifted. His list included: sports, art, music, being nice to people, sharing AND THEN academics.
In an age where we tell our kids to include everyone, that we are all special and all that other touchy feely stuff…why take a group of kids and tell everyone else that THOSE kids are talented and gifted. Guess what? Every single one of those kids are talented and gifted. I work in their classroom every week and I can tell you that I observe talents and gifts every single time.
Can we perhaps find another way…academic challenge course or something smarmy like that.
2. Facebook rants will not help anything. Nope Facebook rants against the system are not the answer. Sure, they will sway a few folks to my side. My side that says we should stop letting the schools program our kids through labeling and testing and curriculum. The side of me that is soooooo tempted to get him in a home schooling program and put him in his own talented and gifted program. But that is a feel good solution that is all about me and my ego, not about focusing on the real issue.
3. My kid is pretty amazing and he needs to know it – and that’s my job. The real issue is that my kid needs to be able to see labels like talented and gifted as only that. Labels. Labels that don’t define who a person truly is and has the potential to be in this world. I haven’t seen an office in my years of work in the military and corporate world that had a sign hanging outside of it that says “ I was tagged as talented and gifted in the 2nd grade” and that is why I am such a raging success today.
Nope, I hear way more stories of people with amazing parents who supported them and loved them and encouraged them. Or stories of people who had crappy parents who transcended the experience to become kick ass members of society.
So here I am hours later and I am actually glad he isn’t labeled talented and gifted. Because I can support him at his authentic pace, in whatever interests he chooses to pursue: sports, art, music, gaming, hunting, fishing, or whatever he gets passionate about and decides to unleash his innate talents and gifts upon.
I can settle down from “killer mama bear” mode back into “Evil Mo who tells her kid that TV turn off week is actually mandatory and the entire world has to do it” and keep working on homework, encouraging research on tigers, playing robot boxing games, experimenting with a new cookie bar recipe, shopping at the Co-Op and letting him know he is loved.
We will have these moments with our kids. The moments that try our own mettle as parents and make us question whether we are doing a good job, or damaging our kids or doing the best we can. Think about what you want them to learn: are they to be a victim, or are they to be courageous and be who they are actually capable of being: amazing little humans who will grow up to be amazing big humans?
I am really working on the latter. I will fall short, I will react some days instead of responding. But I will always love him.
Do you have any stories like this? What have you done in the face of incredible outrage on behalf of your child and your own doubts about your skills as a parent? Comment below.
Remember, you are okay. Keep doing the best you can, your kids just need to know you love them and you are willing to fight for their highest and best good.
Jennifer Murphy is a life coach, writer and artist and single mother to the most amazing 8 year old ever! She specializes in partnering with people to find the courage to live their authentic callings. Find ways to connect with your best authentic self at http://www.nolimitslife.guru