I found out that my son is in a gifted group at school. He’s too young to be tested for gifted classes, so it’s just a group for additional advanced learning once a week. I should be happy, that would make sense. But honestly I’m freaked out. 

I got a lot of mixed messages when I was a kid. Some teachers would encourage me to join an advanced group or class, others would tell me to my face I was only average, or I couldn’t possibly reach my goals. And unfortunately there were more of the second group than the first. I wanted to prove my intelligence, I wanted to believe that I could truly achieve any of my goals as long as I worked hard enough. 

In my mid-20s I finally started being taken seriously. I finally was in a job where they actually wanted to train me and thought I was worth something. Instead of feeling that I finally made it, I mentally crashed. I’ve been trying to prove myself since 3rd grade when I was told I wasn’t good enough to be in the math club. But at that point I felt that it was all a lie. I had gone so far that I finally made others believe in the lie of my intelligence. 

I will occasionally take a random IQ test, usually in the hope of proving the last one wrong. I am always shown to be in the “gifted” range no matter which IQ test I take. I always decide that it must be wrong and a year later I take another to prove how wrong it is, because I can only possibly be average. But it always comes out gifted. 

I feel constant pressure to live up to intelligence I rarely believe that I have. And I see so much of myself in my son that it scares me. I love that he is learning so fast, and eager to learn more. If he moves into advanced classes, great. I am so proud. But I am so frightened too. I see some rapid emotions in him, much like I had as a child. I see his perfectionism so much like many in my family. I don’t want him trapped in the same cycle as me. I want him to enjoy learning and not be torn apart by labels and opinions. 

So I will encourage him to learn. And I will praise him for all levels of learning and the hard work he puts into it. But I hope he doesn’t get trapped by labels and grades only to become discouraged. Luckily he has much better teachers than I did, and they enjoy having him in class and in group as much as he loves to be there. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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