A year and a half ago I swore that what was causing DC’s patient and highly capable first grade teacher exasperation was the fact that she was in charge of a room full of six-year-olds. DC was an exceptional six-year-old in every sense of the word: exuberant, excitable, full of mischief, overflowing with affection, immersed in all things boy and crushing on equally adorable six-year-old girls (he brings home phone numbers and asks me to arrange play dates).
Now multiply that times ten and you have the classroom menace. Many times when I met other parents for the first time, I would hear, “Oh, David. He’s so smart.”
I know now that “so smart” was parent-code for “get your kid under control, he’s disrupting my kid.” I was warned this would happen. But I just wasn’t ready to go through THAT again. I needed some time to catch my breath. Please. I’m just not up to THAT right now. THAT being the years previously spent getting older brother Alex sorted out after his diagnosis as a twice-exceptional with ADHD, OCD and anxiety. About two years ago, things started catching with Alex and I got a much needed breather. Got married to K. Got a new job. A new house. We seriously have an entire new life. It’s AWESOME.
So I somehow thought that at age 8, with all the signs pointing in that wayward direction, DC was due for a psych evaluation to determine the nature of his extra-everything. Extra excitability. Over emotional. Over talkative. Inexhaustible (me: envious!) Over achieving (seriously, why is that bad?) He is popular, has lots of friends and is well-liked at school – even the parents who refer to him as “the smart one” do so without malice.
Academically, unlike his older bro, DC excels at all his subjects. He exhibits restlessness even when he is given extra work to do. Messy handwriting. Impatience with others. His delightful 2nd grade teacher groups him with a handful of others of his ilk. She never once complained but advised me that she supplies much challenge to keep him busy. When she wrote her teacher evaluation for the school psychologist it was so revealing that I felt like I needed to send her for a spa day to apologize.
DC visited the same school psychologist group that evaluated big bro Alex. Before she had even tallied the scores she told me he had done exceptionally well and was most likely gifted. He was also most likely ADHD. When the report came it was official. I still wonder how statistically possible, that I would have two of three children diagnosed with learning differences and gifts that place them in the unlikely category of 2E?
DC, however is a completely different 2E animal than his brother. Where Alex struggled to keep up, DC struggles to slow down. Their giftedness comes in two totally different functions: Alex is non-verbal, DC is mathematical. Just like no two zebras have the same stripes. And just like two zebras who are alike but not really alike at all, my 2E boys have a long road ahead of learning in a world where expectations shift in the direction of someplace called “Normal.” Whatever that means.
NORMAL is a junction town in Arizona. I’ve been by. It’s not a destination. It’s a desolate landscape and not much happens there.
Exceptionality? Now THAT’s the place to be. Follow us as we figure out how to teach our second 2E kid how to learn in a world that favors average. Don’t just be the zebra. Be the stripes.