Monday, May 25, 2015

Intersections

The recent kerfuffle about bullying gifted children in the mainstream media has a lot of people talking. And some of what they're saying is reasonable and level-headed - things like



and






But some other folks, whose comments have since been deleted? They've said some seriously hurtful things, along with the usual party line of "god, unclench." with a side of "well, not *real* gifted kids, duh" for good measure.

The question becomes, though, with giftedness in specific, how do you know the "real" gifted children from the ones you feel are "fake" gifted? How do you tell the difference? Do gifted children look different? Is there any way to tell? Should we tattoo their IQs on their foreheads (and what do we do about the musically, artistically, linguistically, emotionally, athletically, and other gifted children?), or carry their test results with us to "prove" we're not hothousing them?

We've hit an interesting point of intersection. Giftedness is, by its very nature, invisible. There are no clear markings upon a gifted person to tell society at large that they are gifted. There is one other place in my life that this plays out: disabilities.

My family, on both sides, runs heavily to autoimmune disorders. No nobody's going to battle my Aunt RA over her handicapped parking sticker, as she has serious mobility issues that obviously, visibly, require said sticker. But my father, who also has serious mobility issues, doesn't like to use his placard. Whether it's stubbornness or hairy eyeballs that's behind it, he doesn't like to use it. I get guff personally when I park in the closest possible parking spot. I don't qualify for a parking pass, but when I'm in mid-flare, it often takes me several minutes just to be able to get out of the car. And in doing so, I'm subject to all manner of looks and snide remarks. Not just about my parking so close, but about my weight (which must obviously be the reason I'm in pain, and not at all the inverse), and my not looking like there's anything wrong with me.

Veterans in Veteran-Specific parking spaces? They get that guff as well - particularly women - and you'll hear reports of veterans being left nasty notes on their windshields for daring to use veteran parking when they don't look like a veteran.

So what are we to do? I know this is a pretty novel idea, but how about we live and let live? If I tell you my kid is gifted, you take me at face value. If you tell me you're disabled, I take you at face value. If that woman on the street has just parked in veterans-only parking... How about assuming she is a veteran and thanking her for her service? How about we give each other the benefit of the doubt? Treat each other as we would want to be treated? Isn't that one of the first things we teach our kids? The Golden Rule?