"Big Brother, do you know why you are here?" Big Brother, shy but at the same time very resolute, replies: "Yes, to discuss my test results." His teacher whispers that she has just told him that in the hallway; we mentioned the meeting to Big Brother at breakfast as well. Papa, mama, his teacher, the special education resource teacher, the school's internal supervisor: our boy has gathered quite the crowd. The internal supervisor turns towards him: "We have come up with a plan for you. You did such a great job on your test and you're doing really well in general. How about you join the group where you have been going for extra classes this year after the summer? Would you be alright with that, to skip a class and go straight to third grade instead of second? We all hope it will be less boring for you." Big Brother's eyes become huge and everybody in the room witnesses how his mind, as well as his body, processes the message. His lip trembles for a moment, then he pulls himself together and says: "Yes!"

I didn't sleep much last night. How to come up with what would be best for Big Brother? How to deal with school's strict terms and regulations? How to stick to the non-doing? In the end - it was long after midnight - I concluded that the answer would be by doing nothing. Simple and not easy at all.

After the special education resource teacher had explained her calculations and openly admitted that she kept re-calculating, because she had rarely seen figures like these, our jaw dropped. Completely. By now, we had guessed Big Brother was gifted. However, after we heard that Big Brother had scored beyond the limits of the IQ test on certain elements, which made calculating his exact IQ even more difficult, we were speechless. Absolutely flabbergasted. Our boy?!

The internal supervisor completely smoothened the non-doing part for us. We were only five minutes into the meeting, when she told us how the team of teachers had already convened to discuss Big Brother's case. That in the first time in the school's history, they were offering a child the possibility to skip a grade and that Big Brother was even eligible to skip two grades. Letting him skip a grade would allow him to enroll in the gifted program of Day A Week School, and that would only be the start. Next year he would be tested further, in order to see what other extras would be required.

I guess I need a drink. Our mysterious Big Dreamer has surprised us to an extent we never held possible.


Little Brother is doing the best he can, in coming to terms with the fact that he isn't in the spotlights as much as he'd like to be. Until yesterday, when he gave us the finger, followed by a reprimand from us, which he countered by the utmost forbidden swearword. We got it, loud and clear. This isn't his usual behavior at all (phew!) and he made, in his own 'unique' way, quite the statement: LOOK AT ME!
We did - and we do, as always. He doesn't come second in any way, nor is he any less important than his older brother. However, I can't blame Little Brother for thinking that everything revolves around Big Brother. Big Brother hasn't been feeling comfortable in school for months and his mood is going downhill. Little Brother feels very sorry for him and tries to cheer him up. He hates to see his hero unhappy and knows that he'd better take a step back at times.

To witness their brotherly love is magical. They have such a deep understanding for each other's feelings and genuinely want the best for each other. Big Brother in turn helped Little Brother practice for his first kung fu exam. He had been there before and sensed how insecure Little Brother was about his skills. All week he trained with him, giving constructive advice: "Now you made only four mistakes. Do it again, and perhaps you'll make two mistakes." I chuckled, because he sounded just like the boys' sifu: fair but very though. Little Brother stuck to kung fu as we'd hoped he would and was considered ready by his teacher to earn his first belt.

Saturday we all attended his exam and he passed! Little Brother made more than four mistakes, but confidently started and ended his kung fu form, just as sifu told him to. Then sifu kneeled down to hand Little Brother his belt, something I hadn't seen him doing before. At five, Little Brother is probably one of the youngest of the kung fu school and sifu decided to reward his motivation. Sifu said how he'd chosen a dark golden belt for Little Brother, to set him apart from Big Brother, who has a light golden belt. Little Brother didn't hesitate for one moment and threw his arms around sifu's neck for a hug. I had to restrain myself for not doing the same, grateful as I was for his teacher's sharp observation.

This morning I carefully wrapped Little Brother's official kung fu certificate in plastic, in an attempt to make it kindergarten-proof. Anything to make Little Brother's moment in the spotlights last a bit longer, because he undoubtedly deserves it!


Sitting quietly, 
doing nothing. 
Spring comes, 
and the grass grows by itself.
Zenrin Kushū

The grass grows by itself. Your baby will be okay. I've repeated these two lines from Momma Zen so often, that I can't remember how often. To this day I'm intensely grateful for Karen Maezen Miller's writing, which was dropped in my lap on the night before Big Brother's first birthday. Right on time!

The grass is indeed growing by itself - times two. And quite beautifully too I have to say. Our boys are everything we have ever wished for, and much, much more. But hold on a moment, they don't belong to us. They haven't been sent to this world with a special mission, ensuring our joy and happiness. Big Brother and Little Brother are as they are and who they are.

At first sight, the non-doing isn't so hard. As a parent, you trust them to find their way. They do well, they only misbehave to an extent that is generally tolerated and they seem healthy and happy. Then preschool got thrown into the mix. A turning point for our family life: the boys suddenly had peers and with that, they were 'officially' compared to other children of their ages. I remember very well how Little Brother's preschool teacher considered him lacking in social skills - whereas I thought he was completely bored and therefore clung to adults instead of toddlers. A friend mentioned the fact that he might be gifted, and I started Googling. Yes, the resemblance with the search results was striking, but I didn't pursue it any further. Little Brother had always been ahead in things and was probably ready for kindergarten a bit earlier than the others.

The comparison part hit me. Suddenly the non-doing became an issue. What if I missed out and denied my boys opportunities, by sticking to my Zen regime? Shouldn't I turn a blind eye every now and then? I helped Big Brother when he showed interest in books and reading. We practiced together, even though he was in kindergarten and not 'supposed' to read yet. And I wasn't entirely sure if we were pursuing the reading for him or for me. Did I secretly want him to be ahead? Was this about showing off that a) I had such a marvelous kid and/or b) I was an excellent mother?
After a month or two, Big Brother read the entire Donald Duck comics out loud to Little Brother. Just like that - and he still hadn't entered first grade. I couldn't believe his reading skills and instantly knew this had nothing to do with the fact that I had shown him how to hold his bookmark or had helped him with the last difficult characters of the alphabet. Phew... Ha, perhaps I had a marvelous kid indeed!

First grade turned out to be another landmark on the comparison scale. As soon as I entered the classroom and saw the educational material, I knew something was off. If this was first grade, what on earth was Big Brother going to do all year in school? After a month, his teacher decided to test him and by then I should have trusted what my gut had told me all along. Except, Big Brother seemed to blend in so much better than Little Brother, that the word gifted hadn't crossed my mind yet.

The grass grows by itself. The past year we have been trying to drop our gardening tools - which at times has been very challenging after we'd learned about Big Brother's full potential. Leave the rake to tidy up the mess, the fertilizer to speed things up, the panicky urge to water after a sunny day. Find balance in the non-doing; stick to being attentive and loving, without pushing or pulling in the direction of your choice.
And just as we had dropped everything we had been doing, Big Brother's WISC-III test results came in. His IQ score indicates that he is officially gifted. And as parents, we return to our practice of non-doing. Now, he will most definitely be okay.


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