Why Gifted Children are Terrifying

The first rule of Chess: Don't eat the pieces.
The first rule of Chess: Don't eat the pieces.

Gifted children, they're those sweet little bundles of joy that know how to built bridges with their blocks before they can talk. How darling. A few years ago I found myself drawn to a baby, a human baby, something I usually avoid like the plague. It was a few months old, a girl, and had the most intense eyes I have ever seen on a baby. It drew me clear across the room and I nearly took her from her mother's arms trying to figure this out! It was an eerie encounter. I turned to the child's mother and said, "Ooooh, you're going to have fun with this one! She's gifted." I think I creeped everyone out in the room so I just wandered off after this. I realize the encounter made me look vibrantly like the village kook, or perhaps a shaman or psychic at best.

Now I admit I love gifted children. They're amazing. I'm also severely guilty of accessing every child I meet. Are they gifted or do they have room temperature IQ? Are they well taken care of or completely feral? Depending on these answers I will either take an interest in the child or pretend it doesn't exist. I supposed to some this makes me a bit of a monster but I just like to feel as if I'm not wasting my time (go ahead and boo me in the comments section of this article. I can take it!)


But anyway, back to the point. I am writing this article because I know if I were to ever have children I'd be overjoyed if they were gifted and would probably fall into a deep depression if they weren't. It's a bit of a catch-22 though. Gifted children are wonderful but as I am about to point out - they're terrifying.

Climbing sometimes has its downfalls.
Climbing sometimes has its downfalls.

Gifted Children May Outlearn You.... Quick

Gifted children aren't necessarily the ones that can burp up whole passages of books they've just read. They are kids who actually can see patterns a lot easier, learn much faster, and be able to put everything together. Unless you're constantly watching them this means they are always going to be in trouble. For instance one might be good at climbing, real good at climbing, and despite your best efforts they might be able to climb right out of their crib and take a cat-like position on the tallest piece of furniture they can find. I've seen it before. You'll constantly be the one trying to make increasing "improvements" and the kid isn't even three yet. Think about that.


The baby has a point.
The baby has a point.

Gifted Children Can Talk.... A Lot

We've all heard stories about embarrassing things children say. Out of the mouth of babes, mothers will lament. It's true. Children repeat whatever they hear, sometimes wrong, and even worse - sometimes right. Gifted children are far worse, they often speak very early and very well. I had to deal with a three year old once that was speaking full sentences, and not in incomprehensible baby babble either, you could tell what she was saying. If you think a five or six year old says some embarrassing things think what a three year old could be saying. People don't even know to be quiet around them because it's just a three old...

As I stated before I stay away from children as often as possible but when I am around them.... boy do they give me a whalluping dose of Too Much Information. I know whose daddy is being treated for the clap now. I didn't need to know that. Even worse what do you say back to that?! Just smile and nod like it's all normal!? I have no idea... but I know not to say anything at all when children are around. Even silly BS stories you make up to entertain them will come back to haunt you - like the kid whose parents were called into school because he was caught telling all the other children that babies come from seeds... mind you, it's not what you were thinking. His parents just told him babies are from the cabbage patch and you can't grow a cabbage without seeds.

The Gashly Crumb Tinies is a great book for gifted children who will delight in this morbid ABC book of unusual child deaths.
The Gashly Crumb Tinies is a great book for gifted children who will delight in this morbid ABC book of unusual child deaths.

Gifted Children can be Socially Malicious

I remember being a small child and not understanding why all the other kids seem like total morons to me. Why couldn't they understand what I was saying?! As soon as I learned that I did have n edge I started using it for evil, telling the most gullible children the daycare center was haunted. This did not end as I got older, it just got weirder and more complex. I'd let other children cheat off my paper after I'd written something blatantly wrong in the answer box, I'd convince a child I didn't like to do something bad and then convince an onlooker to tattle, I'd write suspicious things in my reports, and in my teens I found great joy in baiting pedophiles on AOL AIM with incorrect information, leading them on wild goose chases to nowhere. Today I still can't resist the urge to rearrange the fridge magnets in any household that has someone with OCD living there. I don't even know what I'd do if I had a 14 year old that was found to be baiting pedophiles.

I know from my own experience these behaviors are caused by a mixture of isolation (none of the kids getting them) and boredom, and I don't have an answer to either issue. Everyone gets bored sometimes and you know how hard it is to find a gifted play group? And do you even want your kid in a gifted play group? Imagine the trouble they can get into when it's five minds, not one!

Edward Gorey's The Beastly Baby is another macabre favorite.
Edward Gorey's The Beastly Baby is another macabre favorite.

Gifted Children have a Scary Sense of Humor

It's true. All the gifted children I have ever known have cultivated a sort of dark and twisted humor. I went to an Earth Day celebration recently where there was a very ill-picked performer on stage singing a zombie love song, "I just want to eat your face - that's how I know I love you!" When the part came up about sucking out eyeballs a small girl on the right hand of the stage was giggling in delight. If that's not creepy I don't know what is.

I remember when I was four or five my brother thought it'd be hilarious to teach me a sing-a-long. It was Pink Floyd's the wall. Imagine a five year old gleefully singing, "We don't need no education..." in an attempt at a British accent. Cuuuute. This is also what I meant about having more than one gifted child.

I remember when I was a little older I spent every day in school in a state of ennui. To fix this I started "breaking the rules from within." At eleven I was writing history reports with references to George Bernard Shaw. At twelve I was handing in reports about mythical animals I had made up. At one point my school was tired of having children not pass in their homework so they made all the children get their parents signature every night to assure them that their assignments were known. I signed my own planner - in the name of a different popular author every night, sometimes even children's authors!

I went to a public school and would never force a gifted child to go what I went through but I fully expect them to pull some of the same stunts and more that I can't even imagine and in the end I will be the one sitting there not knowing whether to be proud or horrified. "You did what now?!"

This baby totally taped herself to the wall - I swear.
This baby totally taped herself to the wall - I swear.

Gifted Children can be Legally Interesting

This is where things get really fun, learning just what kind of entrepreneur your child is. In Kindergarten I caught silverfish in my bathtub and sold them to peers as pets. When my dearest was a vaguely puberty-aged he thought it'd be a grand idea to sell dirty photos he'd spent hours downloading (in the era of dial-up) and then printing on the town's only color printer. A few years later he was pirating movies and CDs and I was selling dirt sculptures. Many of these endeavors are questionable at best. I don't know if you can prosecute a child for peddling porn.... and in all honesty I don't want to know either. Sadly gifted children know how to "cut to the quick." They can find short cuts to their goals that might not always be legally appropriate.

This is not to mention one of my favorite adventures... when a ten year old stole the car from the driveway and disappeared with her two friends for five hours, taking a detour through five towns in the middle of the night. She was eventually caught when she entered the city, sideswiped a taxicab and then tried to outrun the cops going the wrong way up a one-way street. And in typical gifted fashion she then leapt into the back seat and pretended to be sleeping. PERFECT.

It's Easy to Screw Up a Gifted Child

I know you hear it all the time- something you didn't even think about, something you said on a whim, is likely to screw your child up for life. It happens but it happens with a more alarming frequency in gifted children because they're always thinking. They are analyzing things that shouldn't have been analyzed in the first place and it's all going wrong in their little heads and it's all your fault... they'll never be normal or happy again. Congrats!

All is Vanity - Is this a skull or a woman making herself beautiful? I was always attracted to the undertones of this piece.
All is Vanity - Is this a skull or a woman making herself beautiful? I was always attracted to the undertones of this piece.

There's a Fine Line Between Intelligence and Madness

One of the most heartbreaking realities is that sometimes having a higher IQ can predispose a child to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. I wish I could shed light on this with a joke but it's true. Sometimes no matter how much fun you have with a gifted child growing up their adolescent and young adult years can be too much to bear. I have heard that a mother is only as happy as her most miserable child and although I don't have any children I think this happens to be true. I also know what it's like to be around someone who is suicidally depressed and my boyfriend has lost six friend to suicide or suspicious possibly suicide related causes. I would hope that with enough love and support this wouldn't be an issue but I know this isn't always the case.

Condoms, balloons... when you're eight there is no difference.
Condoms, balloons... when you're eight there is no difference.

The Conclusion

Gifted children are a LOT of work. They'll keep you exhausted for all eighteen of the years you chose to let them live in your home. They'll be constantly outdoing you, constantly coming up with things that both amaze and confuse you, and in the end if you're really lucky you'll have raised a wonderful individual who is ready to tackle the world.

For most of my life I have said I wanted to be childless but sometimes the idea of a gifted child causing trouble around the house will make me smile and I will continue to wonder if I made the right decision.

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Comments 13 comments

David Trujillo profile image

David Trujillo 3 years ago from Medellin, Colombia

Great Hub! My girlfriend is always saying our 9-month baby is some kind of a genius. Now she is worried because he is a daredevil that doesn´t sleep much.

Oh, and “The first rule of chess: Don’t eat the pieces.” – Hilarious.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

Yes...I know what you mean. One of my daughters was, if not 'gifted,' per se, was at least exceptionally clever at thinking up excuses for not doing what she was supposed to be doing; lying about it, and managing to get away with the lie not being discovered for years after! She was also very good at creative solutions to common problems...such as the time she had a cold, it was after store hours & we had no meds in the house. So what did she do? Went to the fridge and took a couple of tablespoons of hot sauce straight from the jar. No more stuffy nose!

Warped sense of humor? Oh, yeah...I never saw her laugh so hard as the day I went to go into the garage and the doorknob came off in my hand!

My eldest grandson had similar tendencies, with a large dose of laziness to boot. At 4 months old, he was already proficient at putting the shapes into the shape-matching toy....at 6, he was reading about dinosaurs and correctly saying their names, and reading aloud to his younger brother...in his teens, he kind of fell in with the wrong crowd, got into some minor trouble..luckily not hauled off to jail...but went through a depression phase, and a highly disrespectful phase...through it all, though he was flunking out of school for refusal to do his homework, or turn it in if he did do it...he was teaching himself calculus online to play with model rocketry!!! Finally, he got his GED, and high school diploma via independent study, and is now in the military, doing well...but it was a rough run.


Theophanes profile image

Theophanes 3 years ago from New England Author

David Trujillo: Uh-oh, sounds like you already have a handful! That wouldn't surprise me much - most gifted children have additional energy too (hooray!)

DzyMsLizzy: That hot sauce story is hilarious. You got to love how inventive that was! As for flunking school and getting into trouble gifted children do that a lot... I can't even count how many high school flunkies I know who were just too smart to be kept occupied with public school so they quit. One of them is about to take his MCAT test to become a doctor now... so there is hope even if this does happen. It's just a different path, so to speak. I hope your grandson continues to improve as he finds himself. :)


David Trujillo profile image

David Trujillo 3 years ago from Medellin, Colombia

DzyMsLizzy: Your story reminded of a book from Ken Robinson, "Our Of Our Minds: Learning to be creative". He talks about how the current education system is way outdated because it was molded according to the needs of the industrial revolution. The really creative people can´t take this linear system and start to resist it, with consequences like those of your grandson. One of the greatest suggestions from the book is to teach around “play” in a personalized matter, just like your example of learning calculus to play with model rockets. If children enjoy learning as much as they do playing, nothing will stop them from being really successful.

I find my addictive behavior with Hubpages to be very similar as when I played Mafia Wars on Facebook. Only back then, I was playing for fake goals, now I not only make some cash but build a global network around myself. By "play" I am slowly building myself an online career.

This conversation has given me a topic idea for a hub about creative learning for troubled children, with ideas taken from the book.


LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

I went to a school for gifted children. What a shame they didn't run classes for our parents. My parents were at a distinct disadvantage and seriously out of their depth.

As a parent, I didn't expect any of my children to be gifted but they all are. That's a good thing because it has kept me on my toes as I strive to keep one step ahead of them - or at least close on their heels. lol.

No such thing as a boring day for my family. I do however feel a little sorry for my husband who wonders why the answer to "How was your day at school?" is never as simple as "Okay" or the simple grunt that many other parents get. :)


HolidayGiftIdea profile image

HolidayGiftIdea 3 years ago

Sometimes I think that my kids are smarter than me. It's scares me!


Theophanes profile image

Theophanes 3 years ago from New England Author

LonfTimeMother: That sounds wonderful, albeit challenging! I don't have any children of my own but I have enjoyed the sometimes terrifying antics of the odd gifted child here and there. You weren't kidding about keeping you on your toes! I have heard of schools for gifted children but I have not heard of public schools with special curriculum for them. This makes no sense whatsoever to me. Why do the kids with learning disabilities get their own classes while the kids who have already way surpassed their peers are doomed to stagnate with them? I thought schooling was supposed to teach you something and gifted children have such potential! The system usually squanders it BADLY. It's a crying shame. And yeah.... classes for parents might be helpful! My mother had no idea what I was into growing up either. *grin*

HolidayGiftIdea - That could be scary or a pride inducing moment. ;)


LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

There's lots of of public schools with specific classes for gifted kids these days in Australia and other schools with 'academic extension programs'. Some of our high schools are 'selective' and require an entrance exam and/or references from the child's primary school.

There's no point putting an 'average' teacher in charge of a room full of these kids. lol. If you can't keep up with the kids, you'll be left in their dust as they gallop away. I'm sure there are some teachers, however, who enjoy the challenge. :)


Theophanes profile image

Theophanes 3 years ago from New England Author

Ah, you are lucky. Here in the States I swear the objective is to make the children dumber. The smart ones... they're left in classes with the rest and usually get bored and start using their excess energies destructively. The high school drop out rate among the gifted is actually pretty profound. It's a sad sad mirror reflecting a broken system.

There are schools for the gifted here... but as far as I know none of them are public. They're all outrageously expensive private schools - for the privileged. Parents go crazy to get their kids in - but again, it is out of reach of the poor.

You are right though. Best not use regular teachers as bait...


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

I was taking radios and record players apart at 2. Pots and pans were always a favorite after nap time, and mom told me that one day she removed my instruments of noise and put teddy bears and such in the drawer. She sad that awoke from a nap, went to the drawer, found what I didn't expect to see, slammed the drawer shut and never returned to it. Hmmm. Later, I taught youngsters chemical symbols and the properties of elements…I'm STILL a handful.


Theophanes profile image

Theophanes 3 years ago from New England Author

Well, that is the fun of being a gifted child - being a constant handful, even in adulthood. It's a wonderful thing, unless you happen to be a sociopath. At that point everyone should run. ;)


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 19 months ago from USA

What an accurate, funny, entertaining hub! My daughter is gifted and is in a gifted high school engineering program. Parenting is an incredible adventure. Although I am a psychologist, I feel outwitted by this 15 year old nerd who learned to describe behavior at 3 years old as "inappropriate."

My brother and I were gifted kids and when my mother went to substitute teach an AP history class at our high school, she was looking at the Declaration of Independence on the wall while the class did an assignment. My brother had signed it.


Theophanes profile image

Theophanes 19 months ago from New England Author

Ha! That's priceless! Talk about taking part in history! ;)

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't be collecting these stories in an anthology of Terrifying Things Gifted Children Do. Sounds like fun!

I can totally see a 3 year old telling people they're inappropriate.

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