“There are two things a child should be given by its parents: roots and wings.” – Goethe

I had thought to start my first column on a strong note. Something about over-excitability, intensity or perhaps another distinctive subject. Something clear, with good examples, you know, something that really gets your imagination going. Well, no. Nothing came. No creative flow, nothing at all. Perfectionism, writer’s block, none of these were the issues. I was mostly just afraid to show myself. For years on end I hid myself, refused to step into the light any more than I had to, but it is only a small step on a longer journey. So, let’s start with an introduction: My name is Stefan, I am 38 years old and I work as a technical engineer in the IT-field.
I met Femke during a session about profoundly and extremely gifted children ( IQ 140+ and beyond, for those who have not yet taken a gander at the Talentissimo website). My wife and I were present at the session because of our kids. “Turbokids”, the remedial education specialist who tested them said. They are energetic and swift. Very swift. So quickly they learn that they can and will surpass wisdom, think to understand things and then bump their nose or just do not pay attention to an explanation because they already know or think to know what something is about. And that is oft true, but just so often is not. This adds a few… challenges… to raising children. Our kids are now seven and five years old, a girl and a boy. The girl started talking at nine months and only stops when she reads or sleeps. The boy, at two and a half, pointed out the letters in a book and taught himself the alphabet and then to read. Both are very expressive, imaginative and as curious as one can be.

Your child as a mirror

Children are the perfect mirror for their parents. We’d like to pretend that they only learn bad
words from people outside the family, but being foulmouthed as a parent is quickly picked up. Characteristics you see in yourself and your own parents are reflected in their behavior, and anything you do not recognize your parents are often adept at pointing out. My mother once told me my son plays in the same way I did at two years old. And here, finally, I see the reflection of my own fear to step into the light, because when my kids are what they are then so am I, and so is my wife. “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” Implicitly this saying comes with a large dosage of self-acceptance, fear of acceptation by others, and reflection on our lives and the choices we made based upon the options we had as well as many other factors I may ( or may not) write about in the future.

Strength to be you

As a parent of a gifted child you may have many fears, and in this, we are no different from any other parent. Raising children is accompanied by worry, wondering about the course you take and the choices you made and sayings like “no guts no glory”. However, since our children drive the mental equivalent of a formula one car through the Dutch schooling system that’s primarily made for law-abiding citizens driving regular vehicles, it is easy to miss a bend. This, unfortunately, still happens too often for comfort. In the end, every parent wishes his or her child to find happiness in life, and more so the strength to be themselves.
Now that I’ve written this down it is no longer so difficult to step in the light. Let’s take a few more steps and see where we end up.
Stefan Onderheuvel resides in The Netherlands with his wife and two highly gifted kids. He blogs for Talentissimo on a monthly base. The photo does not feature Stefan or his family.