The kids

What can I say? Both my kids continue their run of academic stardom. It feels like a source of (partial) absolution for my personal failings, seeing my DNA has some value.

Beth continues to excel, outpacing all the other kids in her class. I just wish it brought her peace. While it was an asset when she was the oldest kid last year (her small school has mixed grade classrooms), there’s a different dynamic being the youngest.

She still finishes before everyone else, and she still wants to help the other students who are having trouble. However, unlike the younger students last year, the older kids don’t want help from the “little-smart kid.”

As you may know, Beth falls into the autism spectrum, so she can be a little oblivious to subtle reactions from her classmates. She doesn’t always read the resentment on the older kids’ faces. It came to the point where her teacher told her it might be best for her to sit quietly and leave the other kids alone, physically nudging her back to her desk.

Being the smart kid has gone from being the hero (she was always the first pick for teams in class games), to the little brat who can’t mind her own business.

While I’m proud of Beth’s mind and big heart, I find this a sad commentary on human nature. Ah, but they’re just kids right? Kids will be kids, after all. Childhood is supposed to be when we learn how to be adults. Childhood is supposed to be when we learn responsibility and civility – sometimes by trial and error. Beth just happens to be the subject of a little more than her share of errors. (By now your sarcasm detector should be working overtime.)

It hurts. The good news is it’s getting better – now that she doesn’t try to help anyone. What a crappy lesson to have to learn.

Adam has been another story. It seems everyone knows Adam at school – and not for bad reasons. Just being “Adam’s dad” feels like being a minor celebrity.

When his teacher called Cheryl in for a conference, she said he’s way out ahead of the other kids in kindergarten (not to mention some of the kids in first grade). She told Cheryl she’s been giving Adam extra work, so he stays stimulated.

So, while the other kids continue to work on their alphabet, Adam reads books and works on math word problems (and gets them all right). This weekend he started reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis. Beth read it in fourth grade.

A few folks have asked when Adam will have an IQ test, to which I reply, “maybe never.” There’s no formal “gifted program” at Adam’s private school. They don’t need one. They just teach and give work according to what students are capable of, based on their performance in class. The supposedly good label of an exceptionally high IQ didn’t always serve Beth well, so I’m in no rush to force the same label on Adam.

And yet, it seems like Adam is one of those kids everyone likes. Everyone seems to take notice when he enters or leaves the room – accompanied by a chorus of friendly greetings or farewells. It’s a huge relief, after living through Beth’s problems.

I have hope things will continue to go smoothly from here on out.

Give the gift of words.