Recently I was catching up with a friend and we got to talking about our kids. After talking for a while about the tough time P is having in school she sighed and said, "You make it sound like his life is difficult because he's smart."
Well...no. That's not true. I mean, being smart is a good thing. It helps him learn things and learning brings him joy. Last night he asked to stay up just a little bit longer so he could finish his book about wasps, he just loved it so much. Who would think that such a trait would be a bad thing?
No, his life isn't difficult because he's smart. It's difficult because he's different.
When you're different life isn't so easy. He has trouble finding kids who care about the things he cares about. What other seven year old cares about wasps? He reacts to things differently. He'll collapse into a puddle of tears when he gets frustrated because his emotions are bigger than he is, and the other kids think he's weird. His teacher is frustrated with him. His principal doesn't understand him. The school psychologist doesn't want to understand him. The kids in his Cub Scout troop accept him, but he's definitely the last choice for any partner activity. He sticks out like a sore thumb in just about every situation.
He doesn't have a single close friend. Not one. His school has a "buddy bench" where kids without a playmate can sit until someone notices he's alone and includes him in their play. It's the bench where P sits alone.
In schools we push the message that everyone is special, and you're great the way you are. Unless you're weird. Then maybe another school would suit you better.
So, no. His life isn't difficult because he's smart. His life is difficult because when you're seven years old, being different is never easy.