The Imitation Game

Last weekend, we skipped an appointment that we’d made for Detective Munch. And we won’t be rescheduling it any time soon.

Don’t worry. He’s all caught up on his vaccinations. He was supposed to take a test that would determine whether he’s “gifted and talented”. We opted out, for a variety of reasons.

For example, right now he’s sucking on a comb.

Comb-sucking notwithstanding, my son is not dumb. I don’t think anyone that uses sarcasm by the age of three could ever be considered dumb. “Obnoxious” and “what I deserve,” yes, but dumb? Hell no.

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That said, I have no idea if he’s “gifted,” and apparently I won’t know, at least not officially, unless we do end up rescheduling that appointment. Which seems pointless. I’m not sure what kind of test one even administers to a four-year-old; I assume any one of them that actually sits at a desk for more than twenty seconds without screaming will be classified as a prodigy.

So I visited the website and saw some of the sample questions. And I have no idea if my son would get it – and by “it” I mean the entire idea of taking a test, not to mention the outrageously conceptual questions themselves. But who knows, maybe he would; maybe he’d even ace the thing! But I suspect that most kids his age who don’t ace the test owe that less to not being “gifted” and more to simply being four years old and barely having the attention span to finish peeing before starting to walk away from the toilet.

I’d love for my son to be a genius! Leaving aside the agony of attempting to parent a child who is smarter than me and who knows he’s smarter than me and is constantly reminded by his new “gifted” label that’s he’s smarter than me, and leaving aside the unsettling potential for his genius-level intelligence to lead to alienation and social difficulties (in much the same way that winning the lottery often becomes as much a burden as a blessing), I’d love for Detective Munch to have such an innate advantage in a world in which innate and/or inherited advantages are more and more necessary. (Especially since it will increase his chances of one day being portrayed on-screen by Benedict Cumberbatch!)

But at four-years-old, Mom and Buried and I decided that finding out the kid is gifted would be more for our benefit than his.

It’s not like his preschool teacher is suddenly going to take him aside and start discussing Calculus and Dostoevsky and Stephen Hawking with him as he cries about not being able to snuggle with his lovey. No, the primary benefit would likely be the ability of Mom and Buried and I to bring up his new “status” in every conversation, with every person we meet. Which would have the secondary benefit of paring down our social calendars as we inevitably and deservedly boast our way into being ostracized by friends and neighbors. Yes, I’m sure, were my son to emerge from this test branded with the “gifted” label, he would see some perks too. Just not anytime soon. glasses, gifted, prodigy, test, exams, childhood, parenting, humor, whiplash, the imitation game, nerds, parenting, moms, dads, kids, life, family, school, benedict cumberbatch, jk simmons, education

But the pressure? That would start immediately. Did I mention that his preschool offered an after-school program to prepare children for the test? An hour, once a week, spent training kids in the kind of questions they’ll be asked. My son is four, and he’s going to be taking tests for the rest of his life, whether they’re administered by a teacher, a doctor, a driving instructor or Buzzfeed. Can’t we wait a few years? If he’s the next Alan Turing, I’m sure it will eventually reveal itself.

Look, I’m all for the Whiplash style of teaching, but I think we can let him slide through his early years of boyhood before I start throwing cymbals at his head. (How many other Best Picture nominees can I reference for no reason? Let’s get Wild! American Sniper!)

The important thing isn’t determining whether or not my son is gifted. The important thing is that it doesn’t matter. We want him to enjoy this part of his life when expectations and stress are at their lowest levels. Who cares if he’s gifted? We’re the gifted ones, just by having him around.

Even if the gift sometimes resembles a flaming bag of dog poo.

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6 thoughts on “The Imitation Game

    1. Thanks for the comment, Darren! This post originally had a section on the dangers/proliferation of labeling but I cut it during editing. I feel like it’s okay if everyone’s kind of lumped together, at least for a little while. Life tends to categorize us eventually anyway, why no cut back on prematurely differentiating our kids? I bet they’ll be better off for it in the long run!

  1. I was sure my sometimes ‘difficult’ kid was sometimes ‘difficult’ cause he was, you know, a genius. A friend with another genius (they’re everywhere) wanted me to get him tested so they could go to the genius school together. My kid (he was about 11) told me to forget it. Why would he want to hang out with all the geeky smart kids that didn’t fit in at regular school. I say – let him suck on the comb. Did I mention previously that you crack me up!?

  2. I think it is one of the things they fail to teach you before having a baby “Labels” kids get labelled in every aspect of life and we seem to just have to accept that, so I agree it’s good to have avoided that test, at least then if your child later finds his talent (wherever that may lie) it will be in his own time and not forced upon him.

  3. Pingback: Is Your Child Gifted? - Dad and Buried

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