Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boy, does this annoy me

Them: "So where does she go to school?"
Me: "Menlo Park Academy.  It's a community school for gifted kids in the Westpark area of Cleveland."

This conversation embarrasses Jason, who believes we shouldn't be advertising the fact that our child is gifted.  It smacks of bragging, he says, and he was horrified to hear Liza describe her school as being "for smart kids like me."

Apparently the fact that we're sending our child to a school for gifted kids SO SHE WON'T BE EMBARRASSED ABOUT BEING SMART has escaped him.

Or maybe he hasn't had the conversation 14,000 times, the way I have.  I've tried his approach, which inevitably goes like this:

Them: "So where does she go to school?"
Me: "Menlo Park Academy.  It's a community school in the Westpark area of Cleveland."
Them: "Oh, what's the focus of the school?" (which is always the immediate follow-up question, because charter and community schools are a bit topic around here)
Me: "It's for gifted kids."

If Liza attended a school for the arts, or a school for kids with developmental delays, or a private school, I would have no problem including that information in the answer, so why should the word "gifted" make anyone squirm?

I don't whip out statistics about how it's for kids whose cognitive abilities tested in the top 2% in the state.  I don't say my 5-year-old has an IQ only slightly lower than Einstein's.  I don't immediately tell people she's been reading since she was three and is now reading at an 8th grade level.  I don't allow Liza to compare her own performance - academic, physical, or artistic - to anyone else, for good or bad.  I don't say she's smarter than anybody else's kids, or act smug about it, or talk down about the local public school districts.  I answer their questions about the school fully and truthfully, without a hint of embarrassment.

Being gifted isn't an achievement to be proud of, it's just part of who Liza is.  She's blonde, has size 13 feet, is kind to bugs of all kinds, likes to tell fart jokes, and is gifted.  I refuse to let her think I am ashamed of any part of her, least of all her brain.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you! It is a part of who she is.

Why is it acceptable to wear tee shirts that say "I'm with stupid" and not say out loud "my child is smart (or gifted, or artistic, etc)?

Good for you!

Michael said...

I tend to be with Jason on this one.

When people ask me where I went to school, I simply say, "Boston."

It requires a follow up questions before I will say that I say that I have a PhD in Astronautical Engineering from M.I.T. and that I really am a rocket scientist.

I am not embarrassed about going to MIT and I am arrogant enough to think that I'm the smartest guy in the room. But it often changes the conversation, often in ways that I do not enjoy.

What would happen with the following conversation?
Them: Where does she go to school?
Me: Menlo Park.
Would the follow up with questions about the type of school?

Michael said...

My thought on the conversation was what would happen if you didn't mention that it was a community school.

And, I am jealous that my kids wouldn't be able to get into a school like Menlo Park Academy.