Ten Things I Want My Gifted Daughter to Know

She’s getting ready to turn 10. It’s a milestone and those don’t come around as often as when they’re little. No more first steps or first words to celebrate.

Now the milestones slip by almost unnoticed.

Like when I saw her not be annoyed by the little kid but she took the time to play with her. She  showed patience and took joy in having someone look up to her. My heart sang.

Like when she prioritized her homework and violin practice for the week without being reminded (harangued) I could see the responsible young woman she’s becoming. My heart swelled with pride.

10 Things I want my gifted daughter to know

Raising daughters isn’t easy. That said, raising my gifted daughter has been the greatest challenge and greatest joy of my life.

I Want You to Know

  1. Gifted is just a label. It defines you no more than your eye color does. In the grand scheme of life no one cares about it. It’s what you do and how you treat others that matters.
  2. That gifted label does mean you’ve got potential. Oodles of potential. It doesn’t guarantee anything. So dream BIG. All that potential means you’ve got the stuff to achieve just about anything you want. But only you can realize that potential. I can help you. But the work is hard and you’re the one that has to do it. Dream BIG – the hard work is worth it.
  3. Grades matter – and they don’t. Sorry, life is full of gray areas and ambiguities. Start getting used to it. Grades and test scores are a way of demonstrating what you know. To get where you want to be, wherever that is, you’ll have to show you have the right to be there. Keep the long game in mind and that may mean working for good grades. Or not.
  4. Age doesn’t matter. I know you don’t remember the meltdown you had at age 4 when you discovered that the Monopoly game was for ages 8 and up and that meant you had to stop playing. Such a literal little girl! Age didn’t matter then. It didn’t matter when you skipped a grade. It didn’t matter when you were the youngest in the robotics class. It won’t matter until you want to drive, vote, or have a drink. Until then, forget it.
  5. Friends are important. Make friends with people who fill you with energy and happiness. Spend time with people who challenge you and encourage you to be your best self. Don’t worry about popularity or who’s in the “in” crowd. Popularity doesn’t last, I promise it doesn’t. Good friends are forever.
  6. Be kind. You can always be kind. Even when you don’t want to be (it’s ok, we all feel that way sometimes) just take a deep breath and choose kindness. It’ll pay off in ways you’ll never begin to imagine and you’ll feel better about yourself and the world. Trust me.
  7. Being smart is cool. Seriously, it is so freaking awesome. Don’t let anyone tell you differently or try and make you believe it’s not. If they do, they’re the ones with the problem. Walk away and don’t look back. They’re not worth your time.
  8. Know what else is cool? Confidence. I see it on your face more and more often as you grow up. It makes you more beautiful than you can imagine. Confidence + smarts + kindness = an unbeatable combination. Work it.
  9. Whatever is troubling you probably happened to someone else before. It’s probably happened to me. Maybe your dad. Or your aunt or grandma. Don’t keep it inside, we can and want to help. All burdens become lighter when shared.
  10. You have no bigger supporter than me, except maybe your dad. I’ve fought for you your entire life and will continue to do so – but only when I really need to. That may mean convincing the school librarian that you can check out books beyond your age range (see #4 above) or it may mean that I fight you on screen time.The goal is to teach you how to stand up and advocate for yourself. I want you to find your own voice so you can unabashedly follow your dreams. Your BIG dreams.

The Most Important Thing

Doesn’t matter if you graduate from Harvard or flunk out of high school. I love you.

Doesn’t matter what your dress size is, what color your hair is or what you have pierced. I love you.

Doesn’t matter what you become or what you do. I love you.

To paraphrase the great Snape – Always.


What things do you want to share with your daughter – or son – as they enter the tween years?

Share in the comments or let us know on Facebook!

Seven Interesting Things About ~ Alan Turing

Did a quick read of Common Sense Media’s review of the Imitation Game and despite the recommendation for kids at least 13 I took my nine-year old daughter.

As a parent of a gifted child I love sharing movies with her about people she can relate to. The movie’s about a geeky guy who got bullied in school and went on to basically win the war and save thousands of lives. Definition of a hero and pretty good guy.

She (me too!) is a Benedict Cumberbatch fan thanks to Sherlock. She also likes codes so this seemed like it would be a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Alan Turing The Imitation Game

Alan Turing

The movie provides opportunities for conversation ranging from bullying, wartime ethics, and how movies may play fast and loose with facts in order to tell a better story.

We came home and of course she wanted to know more about Alan Turing.

Here are seven interesting things we learned.

  1. The second most influential Princeton alumni of all time. He came in second behind only President James Madison. High praise.
  2. He was at Princeton the same time Albert Einstein was at the Institute for Advanced Study which was housed on the campus.
  3. Turing studied at Cambridge University and elected a fellow at the young age of 22.
  4. Developed the Turing Test for machine intelligence assessment: if an observer cannot tell whether they are interacting with a human or machine, the machine is intelligent.
  5. The computer room at King’s College at Cambridge University is the Turing Room.
  6. The Association for Computing Machinery gives the annual Turing Award to “an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community”. An announcement in November 2014 that the funding for the Turing Award increased to $1,000,000 and is provided by Google. Wow!
  7. Suspected of having Asperger’s Syndrome.

Have you seen the Imitation Game? What did you think? Will you take your kids to see it?

Spelling Bee Lessons

The school spelling bee was yesterday. It was epic. I should’ve worn stronger antiperspirant.

Spelling beeWe’ve not had good luck with school spelling bees. The first was in 2nd grade but she was young having skipped 1st grade. She didn’t really get that there are no second chances in spelling competitions. Spell it wrong and you’re gone. HORIZONTAL did her in.

It was one tough lesson.

The next spelling bee didn’t come until 4th grade at the new school she’d started just a few weeks prior. By this time she knew the rules but though she’d win – no problem. She rushed and got the word wrong. We think it was CATERPILLAR that made her stumble but can’t remember for sure.

Another tough lesson.

Which brings us to today. She’d already won her class spelling bee and the school competition determines if she goes on to the regional bee.

She studied but I wouldn’t say she studied diligently. What she did work on was slowing down. Making sure she hears the word correctly, visualizing it and carefully and deliberately spelling it aloud.

Considering her history, she just didn’t want to go out in the first round.

And then she did.

The principal called the word – GRADE – without the benefit of a microphone. Not sure why because it was right next to him. He needed it as you can imagine in a gymnasium full of wiggly little kids.

She heard the word (so she thought) and even asked him to repeat it so she could be sure (so she thought).

And then she spelled – RAID – and she was out.

And my heart broke And my poor sweet girl, who could’ve spelled that word way back in preschool, had bombed yet another spelling bee. As she pushed her seat back I could see the chin quiver. You know how that happens right before you cry? It was rough.

She managed to hold it together until the end of that round and then there was a February miracle. One of the teachers, not her own teacher who was actually on the judge’s panel, but another teacher contested her elimination because she hadn’t correctly heard the word because the principal didn’t use the microphone. Thankfully, all the powers that be agreed and she rejoined the spelling bee.

And the principal started using the microphone.

One of the best parts for me as a mom was hearing the school cheer for her when she rejoined the competition. Even her fellow students knew she got a raw deal.

And then she won.

I think my husband may have let out a whoop. He’s been saving up from all those never played basketball and soccer games, the dance recitals that never were and the gymnastics meets that never will be. He wanted to cheer for his kid. One of the sweetest things I’ve ever witnessed.

Yes, I’m proud of her for winning the spelling bee. Not because spelled the words correctly (finally!) but because she learned from her past mistakes. She didn’t let the first-round snafu rattle her confidence. She showed grit.

She won that spelling bee like a boss.

But more than feeling prideful I’m feeling happy. It’s not often that she’s recognized for her accomplishments. You can’t really run around showing everyone your straight A report card or IQ score – unless you really don’t want to have any friends.

Winning the spelling bee is giving her a moment of glory and she deserves it.

What are your experiences with academic competitions or spelling bees? Share in the comments or on Facebook.