Sunday, March 11, 2007

Curiosity and the Gifted Kid

"Why does it smell like paint in here?" I had been out grocery shopping yesterday, leaving Handy Dad and Jake at home together. Handy Dad was watching tv and Jake was puttering out in the garage. I had gone into the laundry room to get something, and the sharp smell of wet paint filled the air.

"What the...? What is all over the sink? And the wall?" Brown liquid was spattered all over our wash tub in the laundry room, creeping up onto the wall beside it. I was suddenly filled with He didn't....


Welcome to the world of the perpetual project seeking curious child. At a young age, he was more content to take apart my cupboards, his toys, or old appliances that we'd give him. He'd mix things like mud and sticks outside, catch bugs, etc. His curiosity was easily satisfied back then.

Gifted kids have insatiable curiosity that most people don't believe or understand until the really get to know a child who is that way. The drive to know is just so completely overwhelming that it can cloud the kid's vision to everything else-he will do almost anything, including alienating friends, disobeying adults, or something slightly dangerous, to satisfy it. He will read every book, watch every video, question every adult endlessly until he thinks he has all the information. It can be exhilerating on one hand. On the other it's exhausting,overwhelming, and at times, downright annoying.

As Jake's gotten older, he's moved onto to actual tools and chemistry equipment, and is in constant build/invent/experimentation mode. Not so much in a naughty way, but he wants to do projects or science experiments and before I know it, he has my entire spice cupboard all pulled apart while he's mixing something. Or he's used up my vinegar and baking soda. Normally he's pretty good, but we still have to pay attention to what he's doing or he'll make a giant mess. If you're really not watching he occasionally gets ideas to do things that are even a bit dangerous.

"Mom, I want some gasoline to do this science experiment with. You know, you light it."


"But I'll be careful, and it's right in this book, and I think that I can do it without a problem..." he bats his blue eyes and tries his best sales pitch to make me say yes. Good thing I'm a savvy consumer.

"Not a chance in Hell, babe."

With a sigh of defeat he then moves onto his Dad, who also gives a resounding no.

Last night? He went and took his can of wood stain...the very stuff that we had specifically said, "You may only use outside, and when you are wearing old work clothes." and painted something in the garage. We already knew what projects he had going in the garage, and they had all been approved. He just had to take it one step farther and paint them (which he knew we would have said no to at the time.) Then he came inside and washed his hands in the pourous wash basin, spraying the stain-ish water all over the laundry room. He didn't just get it all over the laundry room, but his good jacket and a nice t-shirt of his as well.

(excuse me while I scream for a second)

Fortunately for him, the stains came out of the washbasin thanks to those really cool Magic Eraser pad thingys. The t-shirt is ruined, but the jacket is salvagable. As consequences, Handy Dad has him cleaning out the garage and he will replace the t-shirt. Jake wreaking his clothes from being completely careless is an ongoing issue, and it gets to the point where new items will only last a week at a time before they are ruined. Maybe if he has to replace some items from his own labour will he learn the value of money and hard work.

In the meantime, we've hid the wood stain and gave him a big talk on responsibility. I really hope that he gets it, at the very least when he's 11 and it's just minor things like wood stain. Thinking about the other things that could pique his curiosity as a teenager scares the crap out of me.

And people wonder why I have started to get grey hair.

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