The Gift

Photo by Christine

Photo by Christine

So I received dreaded news from my kid’s school yesterday. It came stapled in a “To the parents or guardian of…” envelope.  When I got these mailings as a kid it was always very bad news: Lice. Non-promotion. Fighting. Romance with teachers. Well, kidding but you know what I’m saying. Maybe I had a book overdue or some shit.

I got this thing from the school, stapled. It was the Grade 2 parent letter. It was all blah-blah about Reading Results (above grade level), Reading Instruction Level (above grade level), Math Assessment Results (above grade level), and the results of a zillion tests (upper 80th to upper 90th percentile). No mope left behind and shit.

But the ironical punchline to this whole packet which I struggled to understand–not because I’m illiterate but because it appears as if the district’s committee of lawyers edited it–was the final page: Gifted Identification (see Wiki for G&T definition here, I’m not interested in going into it now). This page contained the results of another battery of standardized tests and it ended like this:

“Based on achievement data, assessment results, school staff and parent input, your child meets the criteria for the “gifted and talent” designation.”  This means that your child has the potential to excel academically with effort and good study skills.  Your child will be provided appropriate accelerated and enrichment instruction, based on his or her strengths.”

What the…?  Oh great.  And the letter invited me to a meeting, that very evening.  Great.  And a meeting to boot.  This meant I had to take a damn shower.

Now, I suppose I should have been somehow happy that I have a G&T child/student on my hands or whatever.  What more could a parent want, right?  But I, as a nerd myself, see these G&T motherfuckers on the Spelling Bee on TeeVee and pray the Jesus please not my baby!!!

Because this is America. We do not want our children growing up to be nerds and misfits. We want ’em to be popular and athletic. Think Al Gore vs. Barack Obama. Or, better, John Kerry vs. Sarah Palin. Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs. Think Jonah Hill (Feldstein) vs. David Beckham. Smart is great and all, but…. I know, because I’m smart. I know a lot of smart people. But G&T?!  Kid must take after her mother.

This is me, when I hear “G&T” I think of the now closed Grog & Tankard, a loser college band bar next to a strip club in D.C. THAT’S the G&T.  “Gifted?” Like gift-from-god gifted? Please, that’s lame as hell. We tortured the fuck out of those kids in school. Is this some sort of colossal revenge? Well, I didn’t torture anyone but I’m a keen observer. I know how shit rolls, yo.

So I accepted the data (as a good nerd should) and went to the meeting. I was, by then, convinced I had the next Einstein billionaire prodigy supergenius inventor-tech entrepreneur on my hands. I walked into the meeting wearing my Harvard t-shirt and Yale cap all puffed-up like a proud man. I even took my contacts out and put my glasses on to exude “smart.” I was in a role: I was super Chinese math incredible genes father of a genius dad!

And here’s what I learned. Oh, about 50% of the second graders qualified for G&T this year, a big year.  Haha! Yolks on me, sailor! My kid is just an average mope at a very, very good school. Good for her and I’m so relieved now. That was a close call. Kid must take after her father.

I suppose the middle and high school will have a similar distribution of bright kids so I’ve come up with a plan. I’ll transfer her to a ghetto school for junior and senior years of high school so she can be valedictorian and top 3% and whatnot, and I can again wear my Harvard t-shirt and Yale cap.

And she can get a bunch of black Jew Filipino Irish Italian scholarships.


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