Sunday, October 8, 2017

A change in mindset

Last night I went out for coffee with a friend of mine. She is super bright and has a son who is super bright and even though when we get our families together her kid is doing things like saying hello in seven languages while I'm struggling to make sure all of mine are wearing shoes and not screaming, I still like her.

That night, though, we weren't with our families. We were alone in the crowd at Starbucks, talking about our husbands and our kids and sewing and knitting and our jobs and whatever else. After a couple of hours there was a brief lull in our conversation and I took a deep breath and asked something I had been meaning to ask.

"Do you remember a couple of summers ago when we took that training together?" I asked. "And we read that book and learned all about these unusual traits gifted kids have?" She nodded and I asked, "Do you think those traits...persist into adulthood?" 

She nodded rapidly and emphatically and launched into an explanation of quirky, gifted kids she'd taught and how she saw some those same personality quirks in their parents, and I relaxed, relieved that she assumed that I was asking a general question, or perhaps a question about my kids. 

But she's super smart, and said, "There are traits in your kids that come from you. You all want certain things. And not material want things to be a certain way, or be seen a certain way. E's hunger for social justice comes from you. Or the way P values certain things and understands that they hold a different place in the big picture than most people think they do. You're like that. Your gifts were passed on to them because you are gifted too."

"Ah, it's been so weird," I said, running a hand through my hair. "I mean...I spent so much time thinking that there was something just fundamentally wrong with me because I couldn't fit in. I spent so much time wishing that I could just be like everyone else, and wondering what I was missing that would make me like them. And I spent so much time believing that if I could just stop thinking like this, and feeling like this, and being interested in these things, then I could just be normal. And then my kids come along and I tell them that some of those same traits are okay, and being different is just fine, and it makes me wonder if I was wrong about myself." I caught myself and said, to deflect, "I mean...did you get that way with your son?"

No, it turns out, because she sorted her shit out long before approaching middle age*. But I spent most of my life trying to hide and forget about what I had. I guess the better approach would have been to figure out who are the best people to see and appreciate it. 

* That's 40, right?