Jan 132012




“Don’t worry, Scout, it ain’t time to worry yet,” said Jem. He pointed. “Looka yonder.” 

In a group of neighbors, Atticus was standing with his hands in his overcoat pockets. He might have been watching a football game. (*He was actually watching the house next door to the Finch home burn to the ground.)

“See there, he’s not worried yet,” said Jem.

(p.105-107) To Kill a Mockingbird



I’ve been thinking about my mama friends for whom the start of the school year is a difficult time, because the classroom has proven to be a tough place for their child to display his particular brand of genius.

For these precious mamas, starting school means revisiting old worries and facing new ones. It means tears and tense phone calls and scary conferences and comparisons and lots of fear and anger and suspicion and Oh My God, Is He Allrights and What Are We Doing Wrongs?

I have some thoughts about this and so I’ve just sent up a Twitter prayer to the G-O- D that it’ll all come out right. Sometimes I know something to be true, down deep in my bones, but when I try to turn it into words, it changes. Gets all jacked up. Like how blood is blue till it hits oxygen and turns red. Which is why I predict we’d be better off if people talked less and just quietly knew more. She said, as she wrote her 367th blog post.

Here I go. I’d like to talk to you about your brilliant children.


Every child is gifted and talented. Every single one. Everything I’ve ever written about on this blog has been open for argument, except for this one. I know this one is true. Every single child is gifted and talented in a particular area. Every single one also has particular challenges. For some kids, the classroom setting is the place where their genius is hardest to see and their challenges are easiest to see. And since they spend so much time in the classroom, that’s a tough break for these little guys. But I know that if we are patient and calm and we wear our perspectacles and we keep believing, we will eventually see the specific magic of each child.



Like my student who was severely dyslexic and also could’ve won Last Comic Standing at age seven. “Hey, Miss Doyle. Were you really busy last night or something?” Yes, actually, I was. Why do you ask, Cody? “Because your hair’s the same color it was yesterday!” The boy was a genius.

Like my precious one who couldn’t walk or speak because of his severe Cerebral Palsy, but whose smile while completing his grueling physical therapy inspired the rest of my class to call him the “bravest.” Genius, that kid.

Like my autistic little man, who couldn’t have hurt another living being if somebody paid him to. He was the most gentle soul I’ve ever known. And he loved animals like they were a gift made just for him by God. Which, of course, they were. But nobody in our class knew that but him. Undeniable Genius.

Like my third grader who read like a kindergartener and couldn’t add yet. But one day I stood behind her at recess, where she played all alone, and heard her singing to herself. And that was the day I discovered her gift. It was also the day that she discovered her gift. Since I FREAKED OUT. And marched her over to the rest of the teachers to make her sing for them. And announced to the class that we had a ROCK STAR in our midst. And she quietly beamed. And she sang all the time after that. All the time. Actually, it was a little much. But we let it slide because you don’t mess with artistic genius.

Or the little man in one of Chase’s classes who was always getting in trouble. Everyday, getting in trouble. And Chase came home one day and said, “I think he’s not listening because he’s always making pictures in his head. He’s the best draw-er I’ve ever seen. He’s going to be famous, I bet.” Chase was right. I’ve seen this kid’s work. Genius.

Or my little one who was gifted in learning the classroom way, and was miles ahead of the other kids in every single subject. But had challenges being kind and humble about her particular strengths. So had a lot of trouble making friends. Sometimes it’s tough to be a genius.


Every single child is gifted. And every child has challenges. It’s just that in the educational system, some gifts and challenges are harder to see. And lots of teachers are working on this. Lots of schools are trying to find ways to make all children’s gifts visible and celebrated.And as parents, we can help. We can help our kids who struggle in school believe that they’re okay. It’s just that there’s only one way to help them. And it’s hard.

We have to actually believe that our kids are okay.

I know. Tough. But we can do it. We can start believing by erasing the idea that education is a race. It’s not. Actually, education is like Christmas. We’re all just opening our gifts, one at a time. And it is a fact that each and every child has a bright shiny present with her name on it, waiting there underneath the tree. God wrapped it up, and He’ll let us know when it’s time to unwrap it. In the meantime, we must believe that our children are okay. Every last one of them. The perfect ones and the naughty ones and the chunky ones and the shy ones and the loud ones and the so far behind ones and the ones with autism.

Because here’s what I believe. I think a child can survive a teacher or other children accidentally suggesting that he’s not okay. As long as when he comes home, he looks at his mama and knows by her face that he really is. Because that’s all they’re asking, isn’t it?

Mama, Am I Okay?

In the end, children will call the rest of the world liars and believe US.

So when they ask us with their eyes and hearts if they’re okay. . . let’s tell them:

Yes, baby. You are okay. You are more than okay. You are my dream come true. You are everything I’ve ever wanted, and I wouldn’t trade one you for a million anybody elses. This part of life, this school part, might be hard for you. But that’s okay, because it’s just one part of life. And because we are going to get through it together. We are a team. And I am so grateful to be on your team.

And then, before we dive into “helping.” Let’s just eat some cookies together and talk about other things. There are so many other things to talk about, really.

And then our kids will see that we are like Atticus Finch . . . Hands in our pockets. Calm. Believing. And they will look at us and even with a fire raging in front of them they’ll say, “Huh. Guess it’s not time to worry yet.”

And then we’ll watch carefully. We’ll just watch and wait and believe until God nods and says, “It’s time. Tear open that gift, Mama.”



And we’ll get to say our Mama FAVE. Told you so. Told you so, World.




Have a brutiful weekend.






Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  244 Responses to “On Gifts and Talents”

  1. Hi Glennon,
    I just discovered your book and read this chapter last night. I loved it. While I’ve adored reading all of your essays this one hit home for me, big time. Our daughter has a global cognitive delay and she is that “3rd grader who reads like a kindergardener” (if it’s a good day). I have trouble seeing the forest for the trees a lot of the time when it comes to her and your words really helped me. I love your writing. Thank you! Heidi

  2. […] areAisha’s post on being current, Maggie May’s publish on being a “ok” mom, Glennon’s Momastery post on gifts and talents, and Brooke’s publish A blog about chronic illness, healthcare, and […]

  3. I love this and truly believe all children have gifts and obstacles. I strive hard to let my little ones know how deep my love for who they are now is as deep as the ocean. And I want to believe my oldest dd will be OK, but her gift and curse is a brain that never.stops, a heart that feels TOO strong, and a drive for perfection. I’m afraid she finds the world too hard at an age when kids are supposed to just be kids. I try to act calm and be brave, but it’s hard when you see you have a child who needs to find outer ways to shut her brain down for her own sanity–because the teen years will be here too soon. And the world’s arrows seem to pierce her too deeply and the pain lasts too long.

    • Saw your post. I work with gifted kids, have a gifted kid, now know that I (and probably Glennon) was gifted . . .and cursed . . .With this racing brain and shotgun blast of constant ideas that stimulate and then exhaust me. You are a smart mama to see this in your child. Read The Oversensitive Child”

    • It wouldn’t let me finish post! Read “Oversensitive Child” . . . They have an adult version too . . .and google sites for gifted children and see if your school has a gifted program. William and Mary is one of the best. Also Google overexcitabilities” in Gifted children. Hope this helps!

  4. […] friend Heather L. Sent me this link from Momastery and I love it I am reposting it and here is a link to her blog if you want to […]

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  7. That was amazing! I work in special Ed. And I think you nailed it! Thank you!

  8. If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly recommend the children’s book “Ish”. http://www.amazon.com/Ish-Peter-H-Reynolds/dp/076362344X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351111571&sr=8-1&keywords=Ish It’s the story of a boy who, after being shamed out of drawing by an older brother, learns through the eyes of his little sister that he is quite the artist after all. I love using this book with my students.

  9. […] post on being present, Maggie May’s post on being a “good enough” mother, Glennon’s Momastery post on gifts and talents, and Brooke’s post on choosing love […]

  10. […] There is a wonderful essay written by Glennon Melton that you need to read. I go back to it again and again. It is the thing, the one most important thing that I want, need, must hold on to: It’s going to be okay. […]

  11. Thank you for that. One of my students died recently and your post comforted me. She was a college student and every day of her life was a struggle, but she found an escape by writing. She was an excellent writer and a poet. I thought she was going to be published one day and I felt blessed to see her confidence increase during the two semesters she spent with me. Now she’s gone.

  12. Thank you. I really needed that. REALLY. I have much more to say, but it all adds up to, Thank you so much. Now I have to blow my nose and get myself back together because we all know what happens when the littles see weakness. I am calm. :)

  13. Thank you! I told my son something very similar last week when it was just the two of us together. My son is perfect exactly as he is (although i wouldn’t say no to more hugs) and I wouldn’t ever want to trade one of his traits if it meant another A in school. I’ll gladly keep my honest, understanding, easy going boy who spaces out sitting in a classroom any day of the week! That’s not to say that i don’t get frustrated by the teacher phone calls at least twice a week, or that i’m not frustrated when he forgets to turn in the homework he completed, but school is definitely only one part of life and I do see the bigger picture. He’ll be just fine!

  14. The day my oldest son graduated from high school ( summa cum laude) he said to me, ” Mom, when I was little I knew who I was, I knew what I was good at, I knew what I loved. Today I don’t know any of those things. It took 12 years of education, but school succeeded in making me like everyone else and in the process I lost myself.” I think we need to radically change our system of education and create a system that responds to the needs of our children. Children spend a lot of time in school and while our reassurance,love, and support may help them to deal with the damage done to them in those environments, is that really what we want? Is that the best we can give our children? I think it is time to create an “occupy education” movement and require schools to change. Find other like-minded parents in your community. Educate yourselves about effective, supportive models of education. Pressure your school board to make changes that will truly support children. Cookies and love and supportive conversation are essential, but our kids also deserve an education that helps them to flourish and become the best possible version of themselves.

  15. […] On Gifts and Talents- Momastery […]

  16. I appreciate the positive spin you’re trying to put on the topic, but I find such broad generalizations unsettling. Yes, everyone on this planet may have a talent or a purpose, but that doesn’t ensure that they are or will be ‘okay’. A lady in my mom’s church has an adult child with Down’s Syndrome. The lady is now a senior citizen and having health issues, and a valid concern is what will happen to her daughter when she (the lady) passes on. I just can’t imagine having a conversation with her along the lines of what you’ve posted, to encourage her to put on a mask and pretend everything’s going to be fine. Those may not be the intended message behind your post, but that’s what a lot of parents of special-needs children are going to hear. Also, *learning* is a gift, but that’s something completely different from *education*. For some of us and for some of our children, education in today’s society is nothing like Christmas; it’s pure torture. I’m an Army brat and attended 24 different schools as a kid. I’m afraid you really don’t want to hear what it’s like when a child’s parents complacently believe that their child is okay. As a mom, I prefer to acknowledge both my kids’ strengths and weaknesses; how else can I help them be the best individuals they can be? I regret that my thoughts are so disjointed; this post just really has me flabbergasted.

    • Wow. There was nothing wrong with Glennon trying to calm anxious parents. Her post gives hope . . .and it is not wrong to go forth with hope and a plan. You post spreads fear . . .Do you think these parents don’t already know fear? Haven’t already thought about what you are saying could hap9en?

  17. “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that is it stupid.” Einstein

  18. As one of the above mentioned Mamas I can not tell you how true this is~
    Thank you sooooo much for this post. Sometimes it is so easy to get lost in all of the stuff that gets thrown and you and your child and you completely forget that he is EXACTLY how God made him and he will be okay. Just because he doesn’t fit into a mold doesn’t mean he is broken it just means he is an individual which can not be confined. Talents and gifts are different for everyone and we as Mama’s have to focus on building our children up and NO MATTER WHAT letting them know they are exactly who they were made to be in God’s eyes.

  19. Thank you so much for this post. It is just what I needed! I have a 3rd grader who struggles academically after quite a few challenges with her eyes and ears and being exposed to drugs and alcohol by her birth-mother. I’ve always known she was gifted but you have now given me the most beautiful and perfect words to share with her when problems at school arise.

  20. I found your blog through a friend, and It seems like you’re everywhere now! I just wanted to comment on this because it made me cry. I don’t mean that it made me get misty, it made me CRY. I have been struggling with my son at school, and this is EXACTLY what I needed to read. Your blog is amazing and eloquent and true, and I will now be stalking it :) keep fighting the good fight!

  21. What a beautiful expression! I am a therapist working with special needs kids, in an inner city school. I call it my “mission field”. You captured (so eloquently!) how I feel about those special kids. Thanks so much for your blog!

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