Recently I've read a lot of books and gone to a few lectures about raising gifted kids. While there are many characteristics common in this population, these characteristics are not unique to these kids. The one I've been most focused on is "perfectionism". If you saw Pnut's work or her room, you would not jump to the conclusion that she's a perfectionist. She does not have straight A's (although they aren't A's anymore, are they?), her room is not spotless (or even kind of clean), her hair is rarely brushed, and she has no problem pulling clothes out of the dirty clothes hamper to wear. She doesn't scream perfectionist. From these lectures and reading, I've learned not all perfectionists look "perfect". Pnut feels like if she can't be 100% certain she will succeed, she doesn't try. If you don't give it your all, you won't lose anything if you fail.
This morning she wouldn't eat breakfast. She knows if she doesn't eat, she can't go to gymnastics. After an hour or so of yelling, crying and threatening, it came out that she didn't want to go to gymnastics. She said "It's getting too long and too hard." She wants to quit because it's getting hard and she's not the best. When her coach says "Keep your legs straight." she hears "You're not good enough."
This took me back to 8th grade. We had moved from Atlanta to Baltimore. I had been on a swim team in Atlanta for around 5 years. It was a well known team who produced Olympians. I loved it. When I found out I was moving my coach suggested a team in Baltimore. I went and tried out. I was told what team I would be on and when practices were. Twice a day for two hours. I freaked out. I wasn't good enough to do that. They thought I was good just because of the team I came from. These practices would be too hard. I wouldn't be good enough. They would find out I was a fraud. I told my parents I didn't want to do it. I gave up because I was scared.
This kind of thinking is still with me. I'm afraid to give my all during training. If I do every training session, and give it my all, and still don't do well at a race, I really will be a failure. If I have some doubt in the back of my mind, like my training could have been better, than I give myself an excuse for not doing as well as I think I could.
I am working on this, but it's not easy. I feel like it should be easy. I know I'm doing it, so I should just stop.
As a parent, I find it hard to know when to push my kids. I don't want them to give up because things are uncomfortable. I also don't want to be that crazy mom who is pushing when her kids aren't enjoying it. This morning I told Pnut she was going to gymnastics because it's something she enjoys and I'm not letting her give up because she's scared or uncomfortable. I hope it's the right decision. I will try to teach her to strive for excellence, not perfection.