….and mom is the scale to balance it out…
As usual, I was checking the Taz’s homework folder this morning 5 minutes before we were supposed to leave for school, just to make sure that he finished all his homework and to sign everything off. Tucked in the corner of the folder was a folded packet of papers that his teacher had addressed to me. Upon opening it, I saw that it was a recommendation that the Taz be tested for the GATE program, the Gifted and Talented Education program for kids who seem to have an advanced grasp on the studies of their age level and are capable of being challenged.
To be nominated for this program by a teacher is a huge deal, needless to say. However, I was careful not to crow about the Taz’s achievement too much once I realized that my daughter had stopped what she was doing and was scrutinizing my reaction. Over the past several years, she had been bugging me to sign her up to be tested for the program. My daughter is smart, definitely smart enough to be a part of the program. Unfortunately, I could never get my timing to coincide with the small window of opportunity to have her tested. So she never took part in it. Basically, I failed as a mother, and she let me know how bitter she was about it.
“None of my teachers ever recommended me for GATE. I guess I’m just stupid,” she muttered in the back seat as we drove to school.
It’s so hard to play the seesaw game when it comes to our kids’ achievements. I could see DQ’s point for being so upset about this. She has always been a good student, and has been quite independent in successfully finishing top notch projects that her teachers rave about. She is the student that teachers love to have. She has incredible organizational skills and manages her time well when it comes to the work she is required to do. She is the kids I can depend on, as can her teachers. The Taz, on the other hand… Well, you’ve read the stories. The kid couldn’t sit still if his life depended on it. He’d rather goof off in class than pay attention to the discussion. He won’t do more than what is required of him. He’s too distracted to listen to instruction, and will sometimes make art projects according to his own decisions rather than what the class is being assigned to do. He rushes all of his work that he turns in. It’s almost always 100% correct – if you can read through the chicken scratch. And it has come to the teacher’s and my attention that a lot of it is that the Taz already knows everything they are being taught (a fact the Taz laments to me as he does his homework in 5 minutes tops).
Thing is, the Taz is incredibly smart. And so is DQ. But they are bright in totally different ways. And they have very different gifts when it comes to their talents. As their parent, I am caught in the middle as I rave about each of their achievements. If I commend one child too heavily on one subject, the other gets bent out of shape. In this instance, I found myself reining in the excitement I felt about the Taz being nominated for the GATE program, and then downplaying the program to DQ when we were in private so that her feelings might be spared a bit. It didn’t work, of course, and I was left feeling like ends had been left undone on both of their parts of the subject.
Do you have two very different kids who excel at different things? How do you handle sibling rivalry?
My two boys are both playing baseball for the first time this year. Wolverine plays for the rookie West Side Yankees, Batboy, for the Challenger Little League Rockies. The former is standard baseball, although at this level they use pitching machines. The latter is played with a “buddy” system for their players, a person who works with each child during the game, as most of them have developmental, physical or behavioral issues that make participating in an organized team sport a lot more challenging.
I LOVE baseball, as a player, I wasn’t half bad; I got MVP my last year in the LL Majors and once had aspirations of playing pro ball. My step dad dashed those hopes when he informed me that going pro meant I had to play all positions well. I wanted to pitch or catch, didn’t fancy myself the best infielder, so the desire eventually faded. Needless to say, the idea of Wolvie being even interested in BB, not to mention the fact that he’s kind of a natural -needs work on tracking fly balls, but can hit, run, and is getting better at throwing and catching every day- makes me swell with a father’s pride. I want to foster that desire, not just because of his skills, but also because sports offers a good method for channeling youthful exuberance, minimizing the problems teenagers can have when they’re aimless and prone to getting in trouble.
But I can’t disregard Batboy. He wants to play with us, but his skills are less than Wolvie’s and when I’m working with him, and Batboy wants to get involved, it can get frustrating for Wolvie. As a father, it’s my responsibility to balance the two, not to mention the fact that my ex-wife watches like a hawk and chastises me at every opportunity if she gets to feeling like I’m favoring one over the other. What I’ve been doing is putting Batboy between us, so he’s getting a chance to throw to one or the other (he can’t catch, and I don’t want him losing teeth, so all he ever gets is soft grounders or underhanded soft tosses). So far it’s working. When I can get Batboy to watch a game with me and his brother (Wolvie’s idol is the Giants’ Tim Lincecum) I know we’ll be closer. One day, I hope to be watching the two of them play catch.
That is definitely a good solution (pretty much brilliant) for involving the kid with less skill sets (at this point, who knows what the future brings?) into the mix so that they don’t feel left out. With DQ, she and the Taz got into a math solving competition yesterday. She, of course, stumped him with her knowledge of 6th grade math that involved multiplying fractions. It’s sucky that kids have to be so dang competitive. But maybe that’s the drive kids need to want to try harder. Who knows?
Why were you checking his homework folder on the way out the door in the morning instead of the evening or night before?
You know, being an imperfect parent and all.