Hi. I’m Mr. FatBrain’s Mom.

Littlest Dude when he was Even Littler Dude

I'm sitting here watching my littlest dude trying to jam a rod between the wheels of his brain to get them to quit spinning away from the homework he's doing. It's killing him, Smalls. The sun is shining. There are bees buzzing against the kitchen window. A trampoline down the street is screaming for the boy to try a triple half-gainer. The sugar crystals growing up the string across the kitchen want him to add a few drops of food coloring to see what happens. The pinewood derby car drying on the bench downstairs needs more graphite on the wheels. He's sure of it. He'll win this time. Why the Huckleberry Finn does he have to show the stupid noun on the paper in front of him what its verb is doing? And in a very exciting yet elegant manner, no less? Who cares?

You might wonder why my boy is doing homework in the middle of summer. It's not because he's stupid, or to be more polite, remedial. Au contraire, mon frère de la pear. It is because, as I was told by his tutor, he is gifted. Not just bright. Gifted.

According to my son's multi-degreed and much-experienced personal educator, bright children are excited to be there, sit nicely in their seats, turn in their assignments on time and ace the tests. Always.

Gifted children, on the other hand, have brains that are so busily engaged in every brilliant possibility and can see so far beyond the grey-matter of most minds, that to sit and focus on one thing is nigh unto impossible. They see the ether. They want to explore the ether. They cannot be held down to mundanities like facts and figures and deadlines.

Well. That explains a lot.

Or else it's a FABulous spin-job to make moms like me feel less like failures, and less fearful that our child might be a walking learning disability.

But in practical terms this bit of information does nothing to help me. It takes every single last one of my braincells, every solitary nerve, every modicum of discipline I have to be a stay-at-home mom. To quote King Fergus from Brave (substituting "stay-at-home" for "get married"):

"I don't want to [stay-at-home], I want to . . .  let my hair flow in the wind as I ride through the Glen, firing arrows into the sunset."

Yep. I'm so far right-brained I'm left brained. I prefer eating sleeping and breathing the Arts to anything else. I could dance or write or sing or act or draw or read every moment of every day. I could travel the world, meet new people, learn new languages (something I adore doing), figure out the patterns of accents, eat new food, learn new cultures, and lay in clovered fields of purple flowers on the heath until the Second Coming. And I'd live in perpetual bliss.

But that isn't what responsible people do. That isn't what people who bring children to this earth who are "gifted" and therefore require a great deal more of their time than their foofy-brains want to give, do.

Those people spend their summer helping their kid learn and figure out if they'll go back to public school, or go to private school, or perhaps do a combination of homeschooling/charter schooling. Even though all that discipline might. kill. them. And homeschooling might kill them both.

I may not do a great job at all of this. In fact, I'm pretty sure I won't. But I brought this boy here, and he's wonderful. He's worth throwing out my inner Merida (from Brave) and giving him all I've got. I love the boy. I want him to live a good life. Even a great life. And be happy. And I want him to respect his most excellent brain and treat it right.

But I'm going to need a few movie nights to survive. And frozen yogurt. And writing breaks. And prayers on my boy's behalf that we'll survive each other.

Right. Here we go.




BABY BABY OH, LIKE BABY BABY NO  (Because we all need a little Bieber to make it through)

About Janiel 432 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.


  1. Just remember you can’t ruin him. He’s in a stable home with a family who loves him and he knows it. A year of figuring out how to school him won’t mess him up.

    As for homeschooling – don’t do it unless you really WANT to do it. Homeschooling is a lifestyle where your kid is attached at the hip. Kids are mobile and can go wherever you go, but unless you don’t mind the constant company, then don’t go there. There are other school options that won’t require frozen yogurt I.V.s

    • Ahhh. Thank you, my dear voice of reason. A lot of this is emotional: like, he wouldn’t ask questions in class because no one else was and he didn’t want to look stupid–so he didn’t learn things. He fears he isn’t smart so he does as little of the homework as possible in order to get away from that fear. So, I don’t even think homeschooling would do it. I think it would be a battle, and I don’t think I’m equipped. He was born with deep sensitivity and thoughts and opinions, and he carries a lot of stress in life because of it. I’ve gotta figure out how to set him free.

      I mean, this is the dude that when he wasn’t even a year old and I was trying to get him to eat, and I’d do the whole “Look at the doggie! Arf! Open up the dog house and let him in!”–which always made my other kids giggle and eat the food–he’d roll his eyes and stare at me like I was a dork. Not. even. a year. old.

  2. I once heard a girl at chuch make a comment that “God creates niches for each of us to fill” and I’ve never forgotten that (the girl was an artist, btw). You just wait – this kid is gonna find his niche. He’ll be BRILLIANT at it, and the world will be a better place for it.

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