Thursday, April 10, 2014

On Raising a Child Prodigy

"An attorney for a father and a PhD for a mother? Wow, your child must be brilliant! A prodigy. Does he play the piano?"

I kid you not, this conversation happened last week. I just smiled and chuckled.

How do I even respond to that?

What is it about humans that we all want people to fit in a box? So we can somehow place the people around us into neat and tidy descriptions? I know this person was attempting flattery, but I am over labels, especially when it comes to my son. So over someone's preconceived idea about what he should be. Labels do not make a person.

I come from a very egocentric profession. Above all else, intelligence and the ability to use logic to form persuasive arguments is valued. But that is not where my heart is. It's precisely because of Jack that I place my values on something else. I am not impressed by your incredible mind. I am impressed by your heart.

Is my child a prodigy? If you believe like I do, that your value comes from God and an extraordinary ability to love and inspire, then yes, of course he is.

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Tricia said...

Jack didn't need that third trimester in the womb. Jack learned how to fight against gravity to figure out breathing. Jack beat all of the odds from the very beginning. Jack's "not like the other kids."

His graduate school applications may not yet have been accepted, but it's pretty clear that this kid's a prodigy.

Julie said...

This post made me tear up a little. I love your little prodigy.

Laura Maikata said...

I worked with non-verbal, non-ambulatory adults before having my second trimester baby. They kindly taught me that I was an intellectual snob. If you'd asked me, "Do you think all people have value?" I would have said yes. But secretly, in that part of me I wasn't even aware existed, my actions showed that I believe people had to be smart enough, bright enough, fast enough, good enough. They had to have something that they were best at, and I was constantly measuring myself to see if I was "enough" of anything.

My adult special needs clients quickly became friends. And they weren't fast enough, smart enough, etc. enough at anything. But yet they were enough.

Now when people in my very brainy world (full of philosophers and academics) talk about what it is to be human, I think of these friends. If their definition does not include my friends, it is a false definition, because in so many ways these friends taught me how to be human better than my lofty education ever could.

I know that sounds ideal and romanticized, but the lessons I learned from them were ones that no textbook could have taught me.

The lessons I learned from them were the ones that allowed us to, without hesitating, say "yes, rescussitate our son, because if he can live - even if it's as a non-verbal and non-ambulatory person, if he can even have a chance at life, it is worth it."

And it has been so worth it.

Laura Maikata said...

And I split an infinitive. Blah. Bad academic-y me.

Jessi said...


Your comment is so exactly what I am trying to say in this post. Thank you for leaving it here.

Laura Maikata said...

I've reposted my comments (with a link back to your blog) on my blog here: (today). I used only my words, but if you feel uncomfortable with me quoting myself, please let me know and I will take it down.

Thank you thank you thank you for continuing to blog.

Jessi said...

@Laura, no problem at all!