Friday, August 5, 2011

I won't have the bumper sticker

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You may say your kid is smart. But I know it. Really.

I didn't always believe it. Sure, I gave Amara credit for being brighter than the burnt  sienna crayon in the box. But I didn't want to be that parent.

I could settle for average intelligence.

But then something happened last year. Amara stopped talking about school. And kids naturally talk about the stuff they love. And Amara went mum.

I probed. I prodded. I hovered.

Was she being bullied? Was she not being challenged? My daughter had always showed great interest in learning, much more than I ever did. So what changed?

I enlisted the assistance of her teacher, whom was of zero help. She, after all, had decades of teaching experience. I was just a Mom.

So I gave Amara privacy. At age 7. I backed off. I let her retreat to her bedroom without questioning her day at school. But I yearned to know what was going on.

So I was forced to think outside the classroom. We would go to the park, so she could explore nature. And yes, even Disney provides a learning experience. Ever try to determine what creatures live at Animal Kingdom?

We encouraged her to save her money, and yes, she got a laptop. But by embracing technology, Amara began researching topics that interested her - like horses and aquatics and and mountains - and created Powerpoint presentations on them.

I saw a spark of creativity I hadn't seen in months.

But her attitude towards school remained unchanged.

Then "the letter" came home. Amara was identified by her school district as "gifted."

I scoffed. How could Dad2Amara and I produce a gifted child when together we are quite mediocre?

But after bubble filling on some standardized tests, they felt Amara's mental age surpasses her chronological age.

Ok, I can buy that. She's always been wiser than her years. And she's been to more wine bars than some adults I know. (Don't ask.)

So as the school year is about to begin, what do I do with this news? Amara will be placed in the district's gifted program, whatever that means.

I know it won't change Amara's messy bedroom. Nor will Amara become the next prodigy for Bill Gates.

But hopefully she'll stay motivated. And while they don't have honor roll in the third grade, in the future, I won't get a bumper sticker. Promise.

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