the meeting that changed everything

Yesterday we had a “staffing meeting” at my son’s school. What that means is, we met to go over test scores and “psychological evaluations” and teacher “observations” and checklists and oh mah God mommy’s head hurts… all to determine what exactly to “do” with a “gifted” child.

P.S. I think I just won an award for how many times you can use “air quotes” in a post. And I’m just getting started.

Devin’s teacher informed us that in her “twenty plus years of teaching” she had never seen a child “as smart as Devin.”

I bit my lip in an effort to avoid breaking my face with an ear splitting grin. Must. not. look. like. pushy. pompous. mom.

The “gifted teacher” (as in teacher of the gifted) came into the meeting and listened as the meeting coordinator began rattling off Devin’s test scores from the first half of the year – standardized tests and numbers that meant nothing to me, but that apparently were of great significance to everyone else in the room. I watched as the “gifted teacher” smiled and couldn’t help but notice her gasp at a few of the numbers. The gifted teacher was impressed.

My teeth began to ache as I clenched my jaw harder. Do. not. beam.

After about 30 minutes of discussing and listening, we were given a list of goals and objectives to choose from in order to determine our son’s educational plan for the next 5 months. Part of that plan will include him leaving his second grade classroom and joining a class specifically for “gifted” children. He’ll be one of 14 kids from three different grade levels.

His current second grade teacher cried as she signed the paperwork, explaining that while she was happy for him, she was sad to see him go.

As we left the meeting I was absolutely bursting with a strange mix of pride, sadness and… something else.

I’m sad for him, because I know he is worried about leaving behind the friends he’s made since starting over here five months ago. I’m sad for him because it was clear today that he has been blessed with a teacher who really cared about him, a woman who has gone above and beyond what was required of her as a teacher. And now he has to leave all that behind.

And yet, I’m so thrilled for him. I’m “proud” of him.

Although I’m not sure if that’s the right word.

It’s a strange thing to see your child through someone else’s eyes. It’s even stranger to see them with gifts and abilities that have absolutely nothing to do with you or your parenting. He’s not joining this class because of anything I’ve done, other than possibly passing on some genetic material. And possibly moving him to another school district in another state where these kind of opportunities are available.

And oddly enough, he hasn’t really done anything to warrant the overwhelming swelling in my rib cage and cheekbones. He was just born “this way”, really.

But still. The pride, it consumes me. The awe washes over me in waves.

And when I think about all the times as parents we have to apologize… all the times we cringe at the things that come out of our children’s mouths.. all the times we wonder where we must have gone wrong because surely this is not how we ever imagined how children would behave…

I think I’ll allow us both this moment.

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  1. avitable says:

    Clearly, your vagina and womb have amazing super-intelligence giving powers. Can I get in there for a while?

  2. You’re so lucky that he got the teacher he did. Most schools these days do their best to keep kids from getting “certified” for an IEP to save $$$. :thumbsup: Be sure to keep all of the documentation (forever) in a file. You may even want to have Devin tested by an outside professional in the future. They can be helpful in formulating his IEP’s.

  3. diesel says:

    That’s awesome. Just make sure you keep supporting him. Really smart kids tend to have some different needs.

  4. jflins says:

    Congrats, but give yourself more credit. Not that you’re eggs aren’t elite, but I.Q. is hugely biased by the attention given in the 1st 2 years of life.

    But yikes when he hits his teens=demon possession and every day becomes a mental battlefield!

  5. Oops! I meant classified, not certified. Duh!

  6. Peggy says:

    That is so wonderful for him. And you :)

  7. Dee says:

    I think I understand your mix of feelings: I felt that way when my Mum graduated uni at 55, and I certainly had no input into that!

    Devin is one lucky kid to have the opportunities and parents he does :)

  8. jester says:

    If I could interject a bit of my experience into the conversation…

    I was a “gifted” child. I participated in the special classes that required me to be away from my normal classmates several days a week.

    I also skipped a grade.

    If I had it to do all over again, I absolutely would NOT EVER IN A MILLION YEARS do it again.

    While the school work was more of a challenge and entertaining, the damage to my social development was devastating. I was a total pariah, and my life became a living hell of stress and ulcers and daily crying attacks. At the age of 9.

    If I could go back in time, I would beg my teachers to give me some additional challenges on the sly. Maybe continue taking some higher level English and Science classes with older students, or extra-curricular activities, but certainly not removing me from the herd.

    When push comes to shove, it is way better to be a big fish in a little pond, and the best student in a class, than a spitball target.

    Just some food for thought.

  9. Mr. Fabulous says:

    I’m not sure I want to babysit him anymore.

  10. Dave2 says:

    I was put in advanced classes when I was in elementary and middle school, but they didn’t make me skip a grade, for which I was eternally thankful, because having to take half my classes with “the bigger kids” was almost more than I could bear. My young life was lived in constant fear that I’d have to move up a grade permanently (kids at that age can be horrendously cruel to “the smart kid”). I was also terrified of disappointing my parents, and learned to hide my daily dread of being singled out as “gifted.”

    I am not trying to scare you, because a lot of kids adapt to advanced placement easily, and it really can be the best move for everybody involved. All I want to do is ask you, for Devin’s sake, to keep close tabs on his moods and progress. The initial adjustment is hard, and encouraging him to “tough it out” is probably wise… but if the long-term proves to be too much for the kid, he needs to know that his life’s not a total failure if he’d be better off going back to where he was. The school “experience” is not always about grades and advancement… but about being in an environment where learning is most suited to you.

    In any event, this is great news, and I wish Devin all the best! You have every right to be proud of him because, in a day and age when people are getting stupider and stupider, it’s nice to know that the human race isn’t entirely doomed to dumbassery. :wave:

  11. Miss Britt says:

    avitable: cash or credit?

    Wait. No. What was I thinking?

    Cash only.

    Geeky Tai-Tai: I had no freaking idea what an IEP was – or that some schools are stingy with them. I do know there was absolutely no kind of funding for something like this in our district in Iowa.

    diesel: yeah, we’re finding that out. You’d think having been the smart kid myself this wouldn’t all feel so new.

    jflins: shit. My daughter is screwed.

    Peggy: thank you. :-)

    Dee: wow, that is pretty awesome of your mom.

    jester: this may surprise you… but I was encouraged to skip a grade, blah blah etc etc in school as well. I didn’t though because of the social aspect.

    Devin is with kids his own age. And I am watching him. I think what is “better than” is different for everyone.

    Mr. Fab: so I should cancel my anniversary plans then?

    Dave2: from what I can tell, addressing the needs of gifted kids has come a long way from when I (and probably you) was in school.

    We don’t just send them off with the older kids for reading and math. We don’t just hand them extra worksheets. Although the extra stuff has been given to him in the mean time, it’s about HOW he learns more than WHAT he’s learning.

    He’s in a class with K-2 right now of 14 (or will be starting today). Next year (if this goes well for him and seems to be a good fit), he’ll be in a 3-5 group. Yes, he’d be with older kids – but he’s also with other kids his own age.

    “The school “experience” is not always about grades and advancement… but about being in an environment where learning is most suited to you.”

    That’s exactly what we’re hoping for.

  12. RW says:

    This is terrific news! You have every right to be proud of Devin. He deserves a big round of applause, and here’s to hoping he has a bright future! Seriously.

    Just stay on him to pick up his clothes, do his assigned chores, and mind his manners – like usual – he’s still a boy & boys need to be grounded.

    I don’t know why I feel compelled to be a pompous ass and give you advice about this, but it sounded like I good idea when it popped into my head.

  13. That’s awesome, Britt, that he’s getting the assistance every gifted kids needs – stimulation! I was in the gifted program and went to school with a guy for whom the gifted program wasn’t enough. He actually needed to just be handed his diploma and walked over the local college. But, he wasn’t and ended up dropping out of high school due to sheer boredom. Don’t know where he ended up, but it wasn’t college.

    Yeah! Now, go watch Little Man Tate.

  14. Kristin says:

    IT truly must have been all the times he spent at my house! :wink:

    No really, we all knew that he was SO very smart so long ago when at 3 he was whipping together 100 piece puzzles in a matter of minutes.

  15. Selma says:

    You have every right to be proud. I’m sure with you as his Mum he’ll handle all the changes with ease. And who knows – when he grows up he might become a famous scientist or something and save the world. I am really impressed by the progressive school system you have!

  16. Mom says:

    Ah my sweetheart, not to worry. It’s wonderful that he is going to get the extra stimulation and challenge he needs. You and I both know what hell school can be when you’re just bored bored bored.

    And there are lots of ways to keep him on an even keel socially. Most of all, just let him be a kid. His own kid. Not anyone else’s idea of what a “kid” should be.

    Yes, people can be mean as hell to the “smart kid”. They can also be mean to the “fat kid”, the “kid with braces”, the “mixed race kid”, the “kid with poor parents”. In fact, kids – and adults – can just be mean. While we would all, as parents, like to protect our kids from mean people, we can’t. What we can do is teach them to handle them – and all people – with grace. To respect themselves and others.

    You guys have done an amazing job, baby girl. You have a right to take credit for nurturing that little guy.

  17. Poppy says:

    This explains why he doesn’t smile much. He is too busy solving things in his head.

    BTW, this is kinda pretty fucking awesome. :D

  18. hellohahanarf says:

    i’m thrilled for you. and him! it is wonderful that he will get the extra umpf that he needs to challenge himself.

    in 1st grade they placed me in the “gifted” program, which was one day a week out of class (in a different school all together). it was fun, but certainly not challenging. more like they taught me by 2nd grade how to cut class. i love that the powers that be finally caught on and developed a program that sounds as though it might actually work!

    be proud. teach him to be proud & confident in his accomplishments. he deserves good things!

  19. Seeing your child excel is every parents goal. (the good ones anyhow) All you can do is support him so he gets the best education and still gets to be a kid… And it seems you do that, so GOOD JOB!!!


  20. Miss Britt says:

    RW: LOL, yeah, he’s definitely still a kid. I have to remind myself that when the fucking “gifted” kid can’t EVER remember to clear his damn plate.

    Oh, and, :heartbeat:

    CMG: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Little Man Tate. I’m not even sure what it’s about.

    Kristin: I think you’re right. It was all you.

    When do you want Emma? I can get her there by Tuesday I think.

    Selma: right now he’s committed to saving the world by developing his skills as a Super Hero.

    I wish I was kidding.

    Mom: thank you. :love:

    Poppy: that’s what his grandpa always says.

    hellohahanarf: yeah, our TAG program was more like elementary happy hour.

    Now that I think of it, that explains a lot.

    themuttprincess: well, that, and getting them to do the household chores you hate to do yourself – right?

  21. Doug says:

    Funny isn’t it….you can feel bad when your kid does something amazing and also when they do something amazingly stupid.

    The comments about social impacts can be very true, but it all depends on the kid. We purposefully did not go the EPP route with my son, but encouraged him to do extra assignments and take advanced placement classes. Believe it or not, in our school district you can do AP without being in EPP. Looking back it definitely was the right choice.

    So much of it does rest with the school district/school/teachers. We had a typical elementary student at our school transfer to a rural school district where my sister lives. They had him tested because they thought he was a genius. I know him, he’s not a genius, but rather went to a school that has really top-notched classwork and the teachers.

  22. Rick says:

    Awesome. Does that mean he’ll become a terrible teenager years ahead of his class?

  23. Kristin says:

    Hmmm…I don’t think I can do that anymore since I have a REAL job. Perhaps you could send her to Piggy’s afterall, she taught me everything I know!

  24. AmyD says:

    You haven’t seen Little Man Tate with Harry Connick Jr.???????

    Oh wait… I’m the HCJ freak. Sorry.

    Dammit. I totally got sidetracked there.

    Ok. Got it.

    “I think I’ll allow us both this moment.”

    Absolutely. We all should!

  25. annie says:

    I’m the same way, “What did I do RIGHT?” I’m always amazed. Kids are their own amazing little individuals early on.
    It doesn’t mean there’s not times when it’s the opposite, though, ha-ha!

  26. Honeybell says:

    As I was reading I was thinking “Smile away woman!! Because one day not too far away he’ll be caught sneaking out of the house with a girlfriend and all of your vodka!!”

    Glad you decided to revel in the moment!

  27. Nat says:

    Well obviously he totally gets it from you. :)

  28. green3 says:

    Wait…you’re in Iowa? Did I know this? I had no idea you were one of “us”. :rock:

  29. Having them do chores is THE BEST!

  30. Miss Britt says:

    Doug: a mother’s ability to feel bad is endless. :D

    Rick: I think that explains his 8 year old going on 17 year old pissy attitude.

    Kristin: or you can quit your job. Whichever.

    AmyD: and what is this – like the third time you’ve had to endure this moment? LOL

    annie: yeah, I think we expect to have way more influence over our children than we actually do. Not that we don’t have a ton… but yeah, that individualistic crap is always a surprise.

    Honeybell: lallalalalalalal i’m not listening to this talk of girls and vodka lalalalalalalalalala

    Nat: THANK YOU! God. The FIRST fucking person to pick up on that!

    green3: nooooo…. i WAS in Iowa, now I’m in Florida.

    themuttprincess: absolutely!

  31. AmyD says:

    Ummm, yes, but I’m a mom so I think my limit is around 50 or something.

    Did you want to call me and go over the entire meeting blow by blow again? I totally have a slot open to pencil you in. :heartbeat:

  32. ~jtm says:

    ::tap, tap:: is this thing on?::
    Um, hello…long time lurker, first time poster.

    Congrats to you and your son and to a school district that is supportive for what’s best for the children.

    I wish ours was… it would save my daughter and I the daily fight we have with our public education system.

  33. jester says:

    I’m not surprised at all.

    I hope you don’t share the opinion that my offering a bit of advice made me a “pompous ass.”

    If I were in a situation where you have some expertise, I’d appreciate an anecdote of your experience. But that’s just me.

    It’s fantastic that Devin is excelling the way he is.

  34. Summer says:

    I can see why you’re so proud of your son, congrats! I also have a “gifted” child, he scored 1440 on his SATs.The one piece of advice I’d like to offer is to not talk it up too much in front of him. I really don’t like the word gifted, we always treated him like a regular kid. A family member had a “gifted” child and she never let any of us forget it. The result being he was the shining star that his younger sister could never be. She went the other way knowing that she couldn’t compete with her brother and eventually dropped out of school.

  35. Mrs RW says:

    :clap: :clap: :clap:
    Why it might be nice to think that all of Devin’s brilliance was formed in the womb, it wouldn’t have gone ANYWHERE without your nurturing, love … and benign neglect. A mother’s benign neglect gives a kid time to think for himself and use his imagination. So, for all the times you hated yourself for not spending ENOUGH time with your kids you can console yourself with the fact that it contributes to their success!

  36. Hilly says:

    I too was a gifted child but have the opposite opinion than Jester….I skipped a grade and loved it! By the time I hit high school, I was on the “advanced placement” track so pretty much shared classes with all the same people I grew up with, which I think was good since High School can be hard enough.

    Anyway, so not about me….about your kid and how wonderful he is! Congratulations for having that moment and many more hopefully :).

  37. Y2k Survivor says:

    Hey wasn’t this ho that show “Malcolm in the Middle” started out??

    And just to ease your mind… I was NEVER threatened with being sent to the gifted and talented class!

  38. Sybil Law says:

    I had a very similar experience, and it was pretty cool. I guess I always got along with older kids well, though. Minus my brother, who was a total asshole to me; but his friends were nice!
    Anyway – congrats. I’d venture to say a lot of that brain power comes from you!

  39. Rebecca Jorgenson. says:

    Hello Miss Britt,

    Congratulations on having a gifted son! I hope you will not allow him to be influenced by the gay community as you apparently have. Also, very interested comment from Avitable in rererence to your body parts, etc. Wow! A married, “Christian” woman who apparently has a reputation for being promiscuous. What a Shame!

  40. Miss Britt says:

    AmyD: how about a slot to go over the agonies of painting?

    ~jtm: :wave: hello! Thanks for commenting – and hopefully you and your school district will come up with a solution that works for you!

    jester: I know you have my best interests at heart sweetie.

    Summer: we try to keep Devin grounded – although it is hard sometimes.

    Mrs RW: LOL, yay for benign neglect!

    Hilly: no surprise you are brilliant. :-)

    Y2k Survivor: I never watched that show – maybe I should google some reruns.

    Sybil Law: awesome – glad to know it’s not always a bad thing. :-)

    Rebecca Jorgenson: your commentary and advice on my parenting and my marriage are duly noted – and completely dismissed.

    Hate mongers aren’t welcome here.

  41. hellohahanarf says:

    oh joy…rebecca or whatever her / his name actually is has found your blog. the one time i wish i could use the 2 girls and a cup smilie. damn.

  42. Y2k Survivor says:

    Reruns…? WTF?! You mean it’s not still on?? I need to renew my TV Guide or something…

  43. fun elementary math worksheets…

    As you seem to know what your doing blogging wise, do you know what the best time of the week is to blog and have them read?…

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