Monday, May 10, 2010

my mom says i'm gifted

I actually wrote this article about 3 years ago - thought it might be worth reprinting here:


There are show tunes playing in our house - constantly. I am actually the one who bestowed these CD's on my children, so I have no one to blame but myself.  Nonetheless, it's making me crazy.  I'm more of a pop/top-40 kind of girl myself.  Besides, a person can only listen to Jellicle Cats and Somewhere Over the Rainbow so many times before her brain implodes.

Oh, and there are costumes too. Lots of costumes.  We can't even buy a plain t-shirt without taking a sharpie to it and adding a Charlie Brown zig-zag or Tin Man rivets.

Do you have any idea what it is like to go to the grocery store with another human being who has stuffed two raffia hula skirts down his pants in an attempt to look "more scarecrowy"?  And the best part, is that the entire ensemble comes complete with the noodle-legged, bobble-headed walk and a constant, never-ending hum: "I could while away the hours, conferring with the flowers . . . "

It has been this way as long as child number 1 has been alive.  His room is full of props, hats, capes and homemade scripts. He's been borrowing my eyeliner for mustaches and "angry" eyebrows since he could talk. What's more, he's sucked his little sister in too.  It's not at all uncommon for me to wake up with the Pirates of Penzance staring me in the face, asking for breakfast.

And like people don;t think the whole homeschool thing is weird enough - I have to prove their case by bringing the entire cast of Oklahoma into the doctor's office.

Why do I put up with this?  What's the point? I only have one answer:  It's because, this intense, imaginative, theater-crazy creature with straw in his underwear is who my kid is. Those things are an innate part of him - like his blue eyes, his hay-fever, his love of fish sticks. It's not something I could change if I wanted to.  It's how the guy is made - and who am I to tamper with that?

He's a quick-witted, imaginative brain-stormer with dirty fingernails and a pocket full of one-liners. Those are not things I can measure on a test, but they are gifts just the same - gifts that make him who he is. Gifts, that if nurtured and respected can help him take on the world.

What exactly is a "God-given gift" anyway? People use that phrase all of the time.  But aren't all personality traits "god given"? I mean, it's pretty easy to praise a kid for a nice English paper, a winning baseball game or a great piano recital.  It's not always a bowl of cherries to have a kid who is "too" stubborn or "too" cautious  or "too" long winded. But the world needs people with those talents too. They are the military generals, the methodical scientists, the historians. They all have something to offer - not the same thing - but something.

There was an article in the New York Times a while back about how horrible it is that America's kids are not all great mathematicians.  Personally, I think it would be horrible if we were all great mathematicians. Where would we find our lawyers, our gardeners, our stand up comedians? I'm pretty sure Hillary Clinton isn't too concerned about balancing a chemistry equation. I doubt Stephen Spielberg could pass AP calculus.  And the thing is - nobody cares! As long as they do their jobs, they don't have to memorize Shakespeare, or be able to recite pi to 12 digits.

As for our family, we're working on nurturing our gifts.  Maybe someday I'll introduce you to my son: the Oscar winning actor/animal surgeon, who recently won the Nobel Prize for his breakthroughs in robotic engineering.

Or maybe I'll just say, "Hi, I'd like you to meet Punk.  He's a kindergarten teacher - and man, can he put on a killer puppet show!"

2 comments:

Melanie said...

So.... I'm not the only one who has to address their child by the name of the character she is playing at the time (in full costume)? Whew!

j said...

Uh - no. And FYI - it lasted for about 6 years. Enjoy!