Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ships and boats and gifted adults

Since my son was identified as gifted in June I've spent a lot of time reading up and learning about it. And in the process, I've started to see myself more and more in the descriptions of gifted kids. It makes sense...I guess, technically, I'm gifted too.

My dad was a psychologist before he retired. When he was practicing he tested my IQ, and as a grad student he tested the IQs of his parents and siblings. He said that everyone's IQ was clustered in the upper 120s and lower 130s. And if we're using 130 as a clinical cut-off, well, I'm just a couple points above that line. My dad never told me until I was in college and took an IQ test online. My dad commented that he was surprised that the score was accurate. Still, I never really considered myself "smart" because my grades weren't the highest and I struggled with math. Still, knowing what I know now, I think I was gifted. Am gifted, I suppose. It's weird to think about.

People talk about my son and his giftedness like it's an automatic ticket to success and happiness. I wish. I'm not going to lie, being smart has its advantages, and it's not a huge burden to bear like cancer. But it's not always entirely a good thing. Or, at least, it hasn't been for me.

About a week ago I was reading with my son and I found out the difference between ships and boats. Ships go on saltwater, and boats go on inland waterways. I was immediately intrigued by that. I thought back to instances of hearing about boats and ships. Had books and magazines always used the terms correctly? You hear about shipwrecks but never boatwrecks! What about the huge Great Lakes vessels, were those still just boats? What about the Edmund Fitzgerald, was that a boat? Or was it a ship because it could conceivably go on the ocean? COULD it even go on the ocean? It was big enough...wasn't it? Was this boat vs. ship terminology even correct? My mind went on and on and on, playing with this new information.

The next day at work I was eating lunch with my co-workers and during a lull in conversation I almost busted out this new boat vs. ship knowledge but I stopped just in time because NOBODY CARES. And in that moment I felt so sad because this knowledge that I had entertained myself with for a good half an hour was worth absolutely NOTHING to everyone else, and I felt so different. As if everyone else hangs out in this bubble of common interests and thought patterns, and I can sit near it, but not inside.

I know that everyone has interests that they don't discuss except with fellow enthusiasts...people don't discuss their motorcycles at length with people who don't ride, or go over dozens of pictures of their dog when they're with cat people. We all adjust our conversations for the audience. And yet, I feel like I have to do it more. Nobody cares about the tree down my block whose leaves are the exact color of fire, nobody wants to read Wikipedia all day, nobody would stop flipping channels to watch a documentary on ANYTHING, who cares what it is.

I hope my kids don't grow up feeling like they're always on the outside of the bubble.

And for what it's worth Wikipedia refers to the Edmund Fitzgerald as a ship.

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