“Do you have any idea how smart he really is?” These were the words that my sister (mother of 2 highly gifted children) said to me often during the early toddler years. In the beginning, I have to admit that these words pleased me. As a teacher, I was excited to think that my son was bright and wouldn’t struggle in school. As an adoptive mother, it initially eased worries that he might not be “okay.” I had been pleasantly surprised as his development soared past the milestones that were listed in the “What to Expect the First Year” books. I would respond to my sister by saying, “Oh, I think he is smart…but not freaky smart. He isn’t super ‘out there’ like yours.” My sister encouraged me to get my son tested. I didn’t think it was necessary.
As my TBP* grew, he continued to surpass expected milestones. His high vocabulary and impressive early reading skills were obvious strengths. These positives were “brag worthy” to me, but soon the negative characteristics started to overshadow the strengths. Soon, well-meaning friends and family would say…”He’s awfully demanding, isn’t he?” “You will need to stand your ground with that one, won’t you?” “Why don’t you just say ‘Because I said so’?”
That’s when the doubt crept in. I asked myself if he did get too much attention being an only child. Maybe he was indulged due to being SO relieved that his adoption (which had mirrored a Lifetime movie) was recently finalized. Was I ill-prepared to be a parent? Maybe I made a better aunt or I was too old to actively parent? The worse thought of all (that would sneak in at the most challenging times) was…Is there something wrong with my son? These were all thoughts that I secretly had as I defended him.
Pretty soon, I would find out that it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my parenting flaws or laziness. It really wasn’t his fault either. That is when this whole journey started to get really interesting! Has anyone else felt this way? Hopefully my stories, advice, and insight will help you as I continue to learn how to parent my twice baked potato!
*I will refer to my twice exceptional son as twice baked potato or TBP