My niece and nephew were in town for the four-day Thanksgiving holiday. The two of them are quite gifted. They show an intelligence and a creativity beyond their years. My father-in-law was doing the New York Times crossword puzzle and he asked my nephew for a four-letter word for karate school. He correctly answered “dojo.” He also identified a passage through time and space as a wormhole. He’s 7-years old. My niece sketched a pear on a table while the other kids sat blank-faced in front of a TV watching Toy Story. She showed the proper light source and correct shading to give it a globular appearance. She’s 9.
I was thinking about all this as I was driving home and then it hit me right between the eyes. The most destructive of all human emotions.
Envy, despite the fact that I have two healthy, happy, attractive little girls who I wouldn’t trade for anyone. Envy that my daughters are only well-adjusted and well-behaved, but not academically exceptional.
Enjoys dancing to Mariachi music with a flower in her teeth,
What the hell’s wrong with me? I’m no better than the creepy parents on the Upper East Side of Manhattan who dress their yuppie larvae in Brooks Brothers finery and jockey to get them into expensive private preschools in the hopes that 18 years from now it’ll be a leg-up when applying to an Ivy League institution, all of which has more to do with the parent’s public image than the welfare of their child.
I’m trying not to be too terribly hard on myself. I’m a firm believer in the old adage that the first step is admitting you have a problem, so thank God I’ve turned that corner. A friend of mine blasted me for being irrational and said I should count my blessings. He cautioned that gifted children can sometimes wind up feeling isolated or be social misfits. Perhaps these silly feelings of mine are nothing more than the small stones that every parent must chew and swallow.
Everyone at work has a nameplate outside their office. Check out this guy’s name: