Gifted Awareness Week

Not What I Expected - Laura Motherway

From the moment he was born, my son was challenging my expectations of what a baby should be. He came into the world exactly how and when he wanted to- on a very inconvenient New Year Eve. Fast forward a few months, I found myself with a baby who I expected to be goo-ing and gaaa-ing at finger puppets, but instead would sit in a high chair looking intently at people in cafes predicting the moment before someone would laugh and then bursting out laughing in unison with them.


Fast forward a few years and I found myself with a pre-schooler who fought every household rule we had and was neither motivated by reward or consequence- just compelled to do what he wanted, when he wanted to do it.


It has only been a few months since my son has been identified as profoundly gifted. It came about as a complete accident. My husband and I were searching for ways to help with some challenging behaviours and enormously overwhelming emotions our son was experiencing. We were half expecting the psychologist to tell us that our son had some attention or impulse control challenges, but instead she told us he was bored. She told us his intellect was ranked in excess of the 99.9th percentile, and there was actually no way of knowing how intelligent he was since he reached ceiling scores in most of the tests she conducted. We were astonished. Not because we didn’t think our son was extraordinary, but because he wasn’t showing any of the attributes I associated with giftedness.


In hindsight I guess it’s no surprise that my son would challenge my expectations of what giftedness is as he challenged me in just about every other way.


I had always thought giftedness looked like pre-schoolers sitting quietly teaching themselves to read and write and being enthralled by mathematical games, but this was absolutely nothing like our son. We were so naive! What giftedness looks like in our family is pirates skidding across wooden floors, Broadway musicals recited verbatim and homemade pulleys to hoist toys (and sometimes children) up to the patio rafters. It is standing in the shower and not being able to figure out how a toy army man has ended up on the wrong side of the grouted drain. It’s the often hilarious but deliberately inappropriate commentary during a church service. It’s the strongly worded feedback received about an incorrect song lyric, or an emotional outburst about the perceived unfairness of a rule. It’s also being told how beautiful you look when you wear a new dress or change your hair in the slightest way. It’s being able to take a young child to a Fringe Festival play and hearing them laugh the moment before the joke is delivered. It’s enormous love, enormous laughter and enormous curiosity. It’s so much fun!


My son is extraordinary. All my children are. I am sure many people think he is badly behaved or at least rather cheeky… which I suppose he is! He is still trying to work out why he is different to his mates at school, why he sometimes gets in trouble for reasons he doesn’t understand or why he sometimes struggles to feel like he belongs. Sometimes giftedness can look a lot like something else. My son challenges the way I thought things should be, so I am certain he does the same for other people. I am praying he never stops challenging me, and hoping he continues to challenge what people think. This world needs more disruptors. More people who make us stop and re-consider our position on things. I am excited to see what the future holds for our son and our family, I just hope I have the energy to keep up.