Interview with a Gifted Kid: Jade

In this installment of the Interview with a Gifted Kid series, I speak with Jade, a 5th-grade student living in the Intermountain West.

We did the interview on Zoom (and her mom was there, too, so you’ll see her pop up).

The interview is one of the longer ones I’ve done, and it tackles some difficult emotional and mental health issues.

It’s the first time an interview has led to an entire additional article. In fact, it led to two! This one on why gifted kids need school, and this one on misdiagnosis.

I left a whole section on giftedness and friendship here, even though it could have easily been spinoff number three. This was quite the conversation!

The Interview with a Gifted Kid Series

As part of my mission to make the world safe for the gifted, I interview gifted kids (and grown-up gifted kids) and share their stories of life in Giftedland.

My hope is that it will create a body of voices that will be persuasive that gifted students have needs, that giftedness isn’t some “get out of hardship in school free” card, and that it will give hope to gifted individuals that they are not alone.

If you’d like to be interviewed, please contact me. I want the stories told.

If you’d like to read all of the stories, you can find them here.

Let’s jump in to my interview with Jade.

When did you first realize you were gifted or hear the term “gifted”?

Jade: So the first time I knew about gifted and talented was probably 1st and 2nd grade because they started testing in 1st and 2nd grade. When I actually figured out I was gifted and talented was actually this year, 5th grade.

In January of this year I found out I was gifted and talented and it made a lot of sense. Both of my parents are also gifted and talented. My entire life I’ve learned differently, and it caused problems for me.

The Backstory

Mom: The backstory of this is that there was a lot of struggle in school, not because she couldn’t do it, but because she was bored by it. She didn’t want to do it and hated repetition. This was all very similar to us. But it was deeper with her. It was like it was impossible.

About a year ago, she was very much emotionally upset about everything that was going on in school and everything that was going on socially. So she started therapy, and then through therapy there was a suggestion to get her assessed.

Through the assessment process, we weeded out everything else and were left with GT. In that assessment of gifted and talented we got some accommodations for her because she’s twice exceptional – she also has ADHD. In math, she is right at level, but she’s extremely talented in like language arts and cognitive functioning and things like that.

Jade: I thought I was failing.

Mom: She wanted a tutor. She thought she was failing and was really hard on herself. If she doesn’t get 100% on everything, which was never something that we required or intimated to her, it was all just self-imposed.  

I don’t know if part of the delay in assessment was because we switched schools a lot. We were moving around a lot in those five years, so I think she kind of got lost in the weeds type of thing.

Jade: This is my 6th school. And my second state. And my 8th house.

What assessment did they use to evaluate the giftedness? It sounds like you had a broader evaluation than just giftedness.

Mom: We went to a doctor who specializes in these assessments. There were a few different kinds.

Jade: The first part was like puzzles, which was really fun. There were patterns –  like, “I will repeat nine letters to you, and you’re going to repeat them backwards to me.”

[Note from Lisa: Often gifted kids will say that they loved the assessment process. If done at school, I’ll often hear them say it was the best day of school ever. This is where I went off on a entire micro lesson on misdiagnosis. You can read that spinoff article here.]

Mom: Have you met my daughter before?

Lisa: I work with thousands of kids just like her.

Jade: It’s really funny that you mentioned just sitting in the chair or waiting for the teacher to catch up to what I’ve been doing because that’s like me.

I get bored so easily. I’m constantly fidgeting. I’m constantly off somewhere else.

Mom: That’s a very big conversation that we keep having.

Jade: There’s no value in school for me. Like social studies, I was so mad because that class has no value for me. I don’t care, I don’t want to know. If I want to know about this, I’ll read a book about it. There’s nothing in here that I could not learn by myself.

[And this is where I went on a ten minute rant about why school is important. It was so long that I turned it into this article. I think it’s a must read! (of course).]

Mom: I think you put that so eloquently [See! Read the article!] , and I feel like she needs to talk to more people who have been through this experience because she’s on a completely different level than I ever was, and I’m the rule follower. She’s not.

Gifted Kids Often Prefer Adult Company

Jade: I think it’s interesting that you mentioned so many things about school and you also mentioned the social aspect.

I think it’s really funny because that’s something that I know I need to work on because my entire life, I’ve hung out with adults on purpose. I never clicked with kids my age. I still don’t usually click with kids my age like I was.

I was the kid hanging out with my grandfather talking about astronomy. He’d ask, “What’s the closest galaxy to us?” and I’d say, “Andromeda.” And my mom would be like, “The Milky Way.” I always go to the adults, and I still go to the adults.

So something I have to work on all the time is hanging out with kids my age and at least trying to be interested in what they’re talking about.

Lisa: Consider the fact that all your teachers would also rather hang out with adults, but they’re hanging out with kids all day. If they can do it, you can do it too, right? [Here’s the section that could have been a third spinoff!]

There are lots of us who are forced to interact with people who would not be our first choice, right?

And that’s going to happen in basically any profession that you choose for yourself. You will find yourself forced to work with people whom you would not necessarily choose to work with.

You might get married someday and you may not like your spouse’s family, but there they are, right? I think you said, “pretend to be interested.”

I think that’s a starting place. That’s kind of a fake it ‘till you make it.

Gifted Kids and Friendship

Gifted kids often get along better with adults. They often choose adults.

In fact, I make a joke all the time in a training I do on identifying gifted kids that if you don’t have any money as a school district and you want to identify the gifted kids just go to a third grade recess and see who’s hanging out with the teachers.

Because that’s where the gifted kids are going to want to be.

They’d rather hang out with the teachers than the other kids.

Interestingly, gifted kids also get along better with younger children. A ten-year-old will play with a four-year-old.

So the only people that gifted kids tend to struggle with are their chronological age peers. There’s this societal expectation that if somebody’s your same age, you’re going to have shared interest. And that’s not necessarily true.

You need to give yourself some grace that your chronological age peers may not ever be really your people until you get to college.

You don’t need to put a ton of pressure on yourself to have 52 people in your posse. Just one is fine.

Expectations of Gifted Children

Lisa: I’m curious about how you experience other people’s expectations of you. What expectations do you feel from people?

Jade: Probably that I’m supposed to like the same things they do. Because I think a lot of kids the same age have similar interests.

But what I’ve noticed is when I start talking about the things I like, sometimes they’re like, “I don’t like that. I don’t get it.” They start talking like over me or expect me to be quiet.

They expect me to fall in line like everyone else and be quiet while they’re talking.

Lisa: What I hear is an expectation that you’ll be interested in what they’re interested in, which is what’s normally of interest to kids your age, but they don’t feel any need to be interested in stuff you’re interested in – things that may not be like what’s typical for kids.

Jade: Yes, like astronomy or politics, and they’re like, “Why are we talking about this?”

Lisa: I wish I had a dollar for every gifted kid I knew who belonged to like an adult model training group or astronomy club or something like that.

When you’re an adult you build relationships based on shared interests. When you’re a kid, you’re expected to build relationships based on nothing more than the fact that your mothers were pregnant at the same time. That it makes no sense.

What would you tell your younger self?

Lisa: If you could go back in time, what’s something that you would like, like six or seven-year-old Jade to know?

Jade: It’s OK to be sad. And it’s OK not to be OK. Because when I’d be asked if I was OK, I’d say, “Yeah, I’m fine, I’m OK.”

And that’s how I’ve always been. I still am like that sometimes, where I block people out. Last year I went through a really hard time where I wasn’t OK, and I was really sad. When I did tell people that I was having mental health issues and wanted to hurt myself, people were surprised because I acted so happy.

When it finally came out, I got a lot of questions and I hated it. So, if I could go back and tell my younger self, I’d say it’s OK to tell people you’re not OK. It’s OK to be open about your feelings.

Lisa: How do you handle the questions? When you when you are open about how you’re not doing well and that you’re struggling with your mental health you get uncomfortable questions. How would you suggest to your younger self to handle those kinds of questions?

Jade: I’d probably tell her, “If you don’t want to answer it or you’re not OK to answer it right now, tell them. Tell them you don’t want to answer.

Of course, if it’s hard, that might mean it’s the right question.

Lisa: How are you feeling now?

Jade: I am now doing much better. I have a therapist, and I’m taking medication for it, my friends helped me through it, too.

Lisa: And I’m really, really glad that your parents got you the help that you needed. Because I’m imagining that that wasn’t easy.

Jade: I was also afraid of telling them because my grandfather died of suicide, and I didn’t know how they would react.

I didn’t want to make them sad or afraid.

Mom: I wish more people would talk about it, and we talked about it with almost everybody that we interacted with because it was our reality and it was important to us.

One of the things with Jade is this overwhelming sense that she had to be perfect and everything had to be 100%. And if it wasn’t 100% in her performance, then she was a failure.

I would assure her, “You’re exceptional. You’re amazing. It’s OK to fail. It just means you’re trying. When we did go to the doctor and she heard about what was going on, She said, “I have a feeling she’s gifted and talented.”

Lisa: One of the skills that I think is most important to develop is the skill of allowing yourself to be comforted. A lot of people struggle when somebody reaches out. If someone reaches out, accept that and allow it to help you feel better. That’s a skill that can be developed.

How do you think your giftedness will affect you as an adult?

Jade: I’ll be able to go a lot of places and do a lot of things because I’ve seen that it makes a lot of good opportunities when you’re exceptional at something.

As an adult, if you’re doing exceptionally well at your job you get more money and you’re able to go places. When you’re exceptional at one thing, it knocks so many other dominoes down and opens windows for you.

What do you wish the general population knew about giftedness?

Jade: We’re not weird well.

Lisa: Be honest: we are weird.

Jade: Not in a bad way!

Lisa: Okay, not in a bad way.

Jade: Also, I wish I could tell people, “We’re like you! Just because we’re exceptional at something doesn’t mean we can’t hang out with you. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends with us. It doesn’t mean we’re snobbish. It just means that we are able to take in more than other people might. I can laugh at the same jokes you can. I’m just as capable of having a good time as you are.”

Can you describe your ideal day?

Jade: I’m sleeping in until 9:30 and waking up refreshed ‘cause that never happens. Then I’m hanging out and going somewhere with my parents.

Then, I’ll be cooking in the kitchen with my family and eating dinner outside on the patio when it’s still warm outside. And then sitting at the fireplace on the couch watching a movie.

That would probably be my perfect day.

Interview with a Gifted Kid Series

The Interview with a Gifted Kid Series seeks to create a body of voices that will be persuasive that gifted students have needs, that giftedness isn’t some “get out of hardship in school free” card, and will give hope to gifted individuals that they are not alone.

Do you have a story of growing up gifted? If you’d like to be interviewed, please contact me. I want the stories told. I am happy to interview gifted children or adults, so feel free to reach out.

Wrapping Up:

There is so much to unpack in Jade’s story.

She was an absolute delight to interview, and her honesty about her mental health struggles were valuable. The simplicity of her ideal day just slayed me.

If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, call 988 for immediate help. Suicidal ideation, attempt, and even completion can happen to children. Do not let a child’s age discourage you from seeking immediate professional help.

Again, there are two articles that explore things that came up in this interview. You can find them here:

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