If Dr. Seuss had a gifted child ....

Dr. Seuss Signature
Photo in Public Domain

Many years ago, I participated in an email group for parents of gifted children. We shared stories, asked for and gave advice, and supported one another. One of the very best messages ever posted to that mail group was from Mary Beth Northrup. After many of the parents expressed their frustration at the problems their children were having at school, Mary Beth wrote a poem reflecting that frustration ...

in the style of Dr. Seuss. Parents of gifted kids are likely to recognize their experiences in this poem, except perhaps the last stanza. Here is that poem.

Dr. Seuss for Parents of Gifted Kids

By Mary Beth Northrup

Dear Mom-I-am, dear Mom-I-am, we have a problem, Mom-I-am.
Your son won't do what he must do. He drives me crazy, yes it's true!
He will stall and squirm and hum, and leave all of his work undone.
He dreams and will not pay attention, have you considered medication?

With other kids he does not play, he is alone much of the day.
Something does not seem quite right, because I know he must be bright.
He seems to learn, despite the rest, but the work is not his best.
He is disruptive, yes it's true. He just won't do what he must do!

Yes, teacher, I can really see, how frustrating all this must be,
A child who does not meet the norm, a child whose mold won't fit the form.
I've had him tested on WISC-III, by your approved test agency.

He scores far higher than the mean; there's more to this that can be seen.

So help us, help us find the way, to teach this child best if we may.
He is not like the rest you see, he acts and thinks far differently.
We need another way to teach him, another way to finally reach him.
Not the normal thing you do, but something altogether new!

What! Something new - go bar the door! We've not done it that way before!
If we do this thing for you, then all the rest will want it too!
Change our ways, that can't be done. Same for all, not changed for some.
All children are gifted, yes it's true! Just MAKE him do what he must do!

Please, please, teacher, hear me through. The laws say you must help us, too.
His needs are different than the rest, we CAN help him to do his best.
We can make this easy too, it will not be more work for you.
This can work out, you will see. Try it, try it, please, for me?

All right, all right, if I must. I still maintain this is not just.
But first there is red tape you see, tests and checks and IEP.
And after weeks and months of proving, finally we can begin moving.
Then I'll try it and we'll see, if this method is the key.

Hey, I see something, yes I do! We have found something he will do!
No more fiddle, squirm and hum, no more worksheets left undone.
He's zipping through, he's learning fast, he's doing his best work at last.

Why did I put up a fight? I guess dear Mom, that you were right.

The Truth in the Poem

That poem hit home with me and with many other of the parents who read it. I know more than one teacher tried to get me to medicate my son because they just "knew" he had ADHD. He didn't; he was screened by professionals. And nearly every teacher and principal I dealt with resisted doing a single thing to help my son, to even try to provide any accommodations for him. It didn't matter that he was capable of reading books like Contact in third grade. Both the principal and teacher insisted he still needed "practice" reading third grade books and refused to offer him any opportunities for more advanced reading.

Perhaps one day more of us will see the happy ending we see in this poem.

Poem printed with permission
Copyright © 1998 by MaryBeth Northrup

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