You know who he is. He’s the kid in your kid’s classroom that is the problem child. The child who’s name comes up during the dinner conversation because he had another meltdown during class. The one that doesn’t follow directions very well, the one that more often than not causes disruptions in their classroom. His defiance tries the patience of his teachers (the one’s that fail to get who he is and what makes him tick) and that result in his being a familiar face in the school office. The principal knows him my first name (and knows his parents by first name). He’s the one that you’ve demanded be removed from YOUR child’s classroom. He has a couple of close friends but by no means is the popular kid. Sometimes he prefers and enjoys being alone.
There is much more to “that” kid than you would know from the outside looking in. You know what you’ve missed because you’re so focused on all of the negative? What you don’t know because the joy of snickering and gossiping about “that” kid is far more fun for you than to ask can we help? Is he ok? How can we better understand?
Let me tell you about “that” kid
He’s brilliant. Not his mom’s definition of brilliant (because all moms think their kids are brilliant!). IQ testing results brilliant. GATE testing brilliant. Far above his peers in state tests, far above his current grade level requirements. He is at an intellectual level that challenges most adults.
He gets bad grades. Not because he struggles with the material, doesn’t understand it, or is slow to learn, but because the basics bore him and repetition of the same idea is like torture to him. He craves so much more than memorizing the basics. He wants to explore, internalize, discuss and debate. He wants to learn in ways not supported in typical school classrooms.
His mind is constantly thinking and analyzing and working – usually faster than he can speak. He’s frustrated easily when you don’t take the time to listen to him.
He is the sweetest, kindest child that you will ever meet and loves those close to him intensely.
He’s not a bad kid. He’s bored. He gets fidgety. He acts out. He hates school.
He studies and thinks and discusses things on levels that leave most adults speechless.
He doesn’t fit into “the box”. He never has, not since the moment he was born. You know “the box”, the one that is created for the majority of the kids his age.
When he’s into something that he loves, he’s 1000% in. 1000%. Karate, reading, studying the subjects that capture his imagination, building, and creating. But if he has little or no interest, he has zero desire to work on it or participate and he’ll tell you that it’s a waste of his time. He’ll check out and think about what does interest him.
He’s likely to be the next Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Albert Einstein. It may sound like an exaggeration, or perhaps a self-serving claim to make, but if you read their biographies or histories written about them, you would see an endless list of similarities in behavior, thinking and success (and failure) in school. You will see that there are too many shared qualities between these innovative thinkers and “that” kid to ignore them.
He’s misunderstood by most of his peers because he’s different.
Because he’s different he’s been relentlessly bullied.
He’s suffering in silence – he’s anxious and scared and depressed.
He has parents that constantly worry about him, his future, and want only what is best for him and for him to be understood and accepted for who he is.
“That kid” is my kid. He’s 11 years old and what you’re missing is that he is beautifully different and simply amazing.