Thursday, January 08, 2009

25 Years!!!

I can't believe that 25 years ago today...I gave birth to my First Child...Genius Boy!! It was a very cold morning in Wisconsin that he arrived...I remember walking across the frozen parking lot in labor..LOL....CDR didn't think to drop me off at the door..LOL.

Thru the years he's brought us so much joy. I know I keep saying I'll share Genius Boy's story but I never get around to it, so what better day to do it than on his 25th Birthday.

Being our first child it was very exciting to watch him grow and see him reach each milestone. Also being our First child...we had nothing to compare him to, so for a short while we didn't realize he was any different than any other kids his age. I was a young mother and loved spending time with my new baby....I loved reading to him and coloring with him and playing with him. Every night from before he was born I would read to him ..mostly Little Golden the time he was a year old, his favorite was an Alphabet book we had. By the age of one, he not only could recite his alphabet, but knew each letter by sight. By two, he knew his letters phonetically and was starting to put them together to form other words, he was starting to read! By the age of Four, he was reading and writing fluently and doing simple math. I can still remember a day when I picked him up from Pre-school, and his teacher came running out excitedly and asked if I realized he could read??? Why Gosh, NO, I never noticed!! Hello!! He's MY kid of course I KNOW that!! Well, I was a little more polite than that.....LOL.

By kindergarten, he was reading on at least a 3rd or 4th grade level, and doing multiplication and long division...We tried to get the school to advance him to First Grade, but not knowing him as we did, they were not willing to do so on just our word alone. They did make sure to place him with an extremely motivated teacher, that they felt would make every effort to challenge him. She was awesome, and did everything she could for him. She went out of her way to provide him with materials to challenge him. She made a separate curriculum just for him, and payed for advanced books and workbooks for him. For example, while the other children were learning what the letter A was, and coloring in pictures of Apples and Alligators...she would have him write what each 'A" picture was and then write sentences on the back of the page using each one. Later that year on his teachers recommendation the school agreed to have him tested for Giftedness. They administered the Stanford Binet IQ test, and found that he had an IQ of 161, which is considered Exceptionally Gifted. It was then decided that he would skip 1st grade and move directly into 2nd grade , they also place him in their pull out gifted class, which was normally not done until 3rd grade. Unfortunately we moved shortly after his 2nd grade class started and we had to start all over with a new school in SC. Not much was done there, he continued with 2nd grade and although they also made an exception for him to attend the pull out gifted class, most weeks his teacher forgot to send him. Luckily, we were only there for the one year.

We then moved to Washington, which has a wonderful gifted program. In Washington, at least in the county we lived in, the Gifted Program was actually an All Day /Every Day Program. It was also a very limited program and only so many children can participate. This was unfortunate for Genius Boy as we moved there during his 3rd grade year and there were no spots available in the 3rd/4th grade Gifted Class. In Washington they test children for the Gifted Program at the end of the year. Many parents of kindergartners choose to have their children tested for it, as there are quite a few 1st grade positions available( it being the first year a child can participate). Once your child is in the program they are in it for good, no need to retest each year. So for subsequent years there are VERY few openings for new students if any. This was the one flaw we experience with Washington's Gifted Program. Moving there during GB's 3rd grade year, meant that even though he had a Higher Score than any of the children in the program already or any other children who tested that year.....there were no openings therefore he could not enter the Program....very frustrating. I will say though, that the school was very accommodating and even allowed him to sit in on the gifted class for math, which was his strong suit at the time.

The school in Washington had combined classes for both the Gifted Program and for their regular Public School program. This was a bonus for Genius Boy, since he was a 3rd grader at the time which placed him in a 3rd/4th grade class....he was able to do the 4th grade work instead of the 3rd grade work. The following year the whole class moved up to a 4th/ 5th grade class and again he was able to do the 5th grade work instead of the 4th.It was at this time that we had another excited teacher approach us wanting to know if we realized how brilliant our son was. They were doing math puzzles and the teacher threw one out that he never expected any of the kids to even come close to being able to solve...he just wanted to see if any of them would be able to even begin to solve it...LOL. Well GB solved in only a few minutes! The teacher was flabbergasted!...

The following year GB finally made it into the Gifted Program for their 5th/6th grade class. They had one opening that year and he got it. Again as with the other classes he was given the 6th grade work instead of the 5th grade work. He thouroughly enjoyed this class and his teacher was absolutely wonderful. His class even got a chance to be on Bill Nye the Science Guy. One of their Marine Biology Episodes. At the end of his 5th grade year we moved yet again. This time to Monterrey CA. As there was only a month left of school we didn't bother trying to make any special arrangements for him for that final month.

The next year he started Middle School as a 6th grader though. Arrangements were made for him for math courses. Unfortunately the Middle School just could not accommodate him academically for Math. The Highes Level they could offer him was an
8th grade Pre-Algebra class( he was already doing Pre-Calculus) They felt he was too young and vulnerable to be sent to the High School, so instead it was arranged for him to take math courses at the local Community College. They felt he'd be better off with Adults than with High Schoolers. He took his first class that year, Trigonometry, and received the highest scores in his class. He then took Calculus and Chemistry the next Semester. Every day he would start out at the Middle School , I would then pick him up and take him to his classes at Monterrey Peninsula College, and then drive him back to finish the day at the Middle School. Unfortunately Middle School can be rough, and Middle Schoolers can be even rougher. Already he was a year younger than the other students in his class, and then add taking College courses to that, and well, it didn't sit well with most of his classmates. He was picked on incessantly and treated badly by the other students. This is when we made the decision to take him out of Public School completely and enroll him full time in College. He was 11 at the time.

He attended MPC for one more year, making the Dean's List each semester.I would like to add that GB did ALL of his own work while in College. Unlike some of the other 'whizkids" out there who had their parents attend the classes WITH them and take all their notes FOR them and then studied them with them. GB attended his classes alone( I was usually nearby though , at least for that first year or so) took his own notes( not that he ever really did..I think part of his giftedness is not exactly a photographic memory but something very similar...he can see something once and know it and understand it and it stays with him).

The Next Year he attended Old Dominion University, after we moved yet again, this time to Virginia. They gave him a full scholarship to attend. This was the first year he struggled a little, as University work was not quite the same a Community college work. He knew the content and could score well on tests, but going to a University demanded a certain amount of responsibility that as a 12 year old he hadn't exactly quite mastered. There were assignments that he didn't turn in and so his grades failed and he lost the scholarship. He did much better the following Semester, realizing he would have to be much more responsible about doing the work and not just 'knowing' it. He started making the Dean's list again each semester.

Attending a University full time wasn't easy though, for a young teen. He longed to be around kids his own age. He had friends in our neighborhood and felt he was missing out on being a 'teen'. We then decided to allow him to discontinue his college studies and enroll in our local HS. He actually flourished socially, and enjoyed many of his classes. He got into drama, joined the Drama Club, joined the German Club, even got on the Track Team.... He also took Drivers Ed and came away with his Drivers Licence...he made many great friends that he still hangs out with to this day. Academically though, there really wasn't much to offer and he asked to finish out his degree at ODU. He graduated from ODU with a Bachelors in Mathematics and a Minor in Computer Science at the age of 17 and received his Masters at the age of 19. He took a few years off from studying to just be a young man and now he is presently teaching at Sylvan Learning Centers. He's not sure what he actually wants to do with his future. There are many doors open to him at this point.

Sometimes I wonder if this was the best road for us to have led him....If I had to do it over again I think I might have pursued the Home School Option. When he was young Home School just wasn't as widespread and accepted as it is today. Then again I don't know that I could have challenged him enough in a Home School Setting. He really enjoyed all of his college classes, and we more than likely would have had to include college as part of the home school plan.

So that's it....that's the Genius Boy story!!!

As for our other children...although they are all quite bright...none have quite his level of intelligence. Drama Teen has some of his characteristics ( the almost photographic memory thing..being able to grasp concepts immediately and understand things without really studying them)and was also considered Gifted but not quite on his level, and after our experience with GB we thought it might be better to just leave well enough alone and not really push Drama Teen in the same directions, unless she really pushed us to.


Jessica said...

Thanks for the welcome! Happy 25 years of having your son!!

Laura said...

I'm so glad to see this post! Our michael is very smart, and his doctors and teachers have pushed us to have him tested... IQ and such... But we've decided we want him to be as normal as possible... And fear getting him "numbered" with an IQ, or labeled in such a way would do him more harm than good at this age... Your experiences reiterate our choice.

Happy birthday Genius Boy!!!! :-)

More, More, More said...

I love hearing stories like this. Letting him go back to HS for the social experience was probably so smart because that is equally important. Says a lot about you and CDR and most of all genius boy of course that he graduated with his masters degree at 19. Sometimes you hear of kids who are so smart they think they don't need the education and then they totally screw up their lives and become nothing but smart... asses! Your boy is special for sure - and handsome too!

Call Me Cate said...

Returning your visit to my blog. Happy Birthday to your son!


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