Saturday, October 14, 2006

A father's chronicle (Gifted is a gift or not?)

I guess every parent have their struggles in bringing up their children. I notice every parent is also fiercely proud of their children. They are "mini-trophies". They are "the sunshine", the "smile" that breaks all the dark clouds. As it turns out, sometimes, we still bring along our old baggages - we tend to be proud of their achievements. The word "proud" is a strange thing. The phrase "proud of" is even more strange (as I seem to observe). Why so? Well, to be "proud of" someone, is a "borrowed" pleasure, so to speak. For being "proud" is the "feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself". However, to be "proud of someone" is a borrowed "honor". The tricky part of it (of being proud of something, i.e.) is that it often ties or associate to an activity or an achievement made by that "someone".

So, to be "proud of children" is perhaps (often but not always) closely akin to the achievements of our children. Well, not that it is a good or a bad thing. We are proud of many things that our children do. For example, Theophilus actually walked up to a waitress 2 days back and asked whether he could take a piece of paper out of the restuarant. In a sense, he need not, yet when he asked he is "free" of thieft. And acted responsibily. I am proud of that behaviour. It shows his maturity and responsibility. There are other aspects, like for example, Gracia is starting to walk (unsupported) and I am proud of her attempt to make those brave few steps. In this case, it is an external expression. An achievement that is visual.

I seem to notice many gifted children lately. And as a parent, I (perhaps, or is it due to vainity?) ask myself whether my kid or kids are gifted. As it turns out, I think there is always challenges on both sides of the coin.

I read an article (written by a fellow Singaporean parent) on the struggle of parenting a gifted child. And I seem to see a small shadow of myself lurking in the article as well. And there was a line that caught my attention:

It would be good to be in the gifted program but even otherwise, I think his needs can be met – though a lot of effort and patience may be needed as there is perhaps already some level of damage done.

It would be good... but even otherwise. Wow.... good to be otherwise. Good even not in a gifted program? This might seem strange to many Singaporean parents. At least a good number of them (I know, some readers who are Singaporean parent might protest to my observation, but general statements are usually generally wrong anyway). To a good number of us, we push these kids pretty hard (I am not throwing any stones here. This is not a judgemental statement. I stand guilty and condemned). There seems to really a need to change our way of helping them along the way the journey of learning and becoming a wholesome human being.

And I think sometimes, I agree with the suggestion - not to be enrolled in a gifted program could also be a good thing. Our educational system seems to honor (sometimes, even going to the extend of honor ONLY) those who are elite in our society. To be normal is to be abnormal. What's wrong being normal?

If it (ever) comes to my turn to make the decision as to whether to enroll my children into a gifted program, I hope I will remember to also talk to them about how they feel about getting into one. If all his friends are going to the "normal" program, his learning will be a lonely process. Elite, as he/she might be... but alone. And that is not very healthy. We have many gifted elites who cannot integrate into the society.

Anyhow, children are like kites. Always pulling the string tault is not a good idea. Sometimes in order to make the kite fly higher, we need to let it go.... let it be a "real" kite.

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