If there’s one thing I’ve learned about gifted (intellectual intensity) it’s that gifted doesn’t do shallow. No, gifted wants to know all there is to know about the subject. The basic blurb in an encyclopedia isn’t enough – and those books from the library? Laughably lacking!
Our current course of study is carnivorous plants. The Engineer watched a Wild Krats video or Nature Cat video about it and requested to learn “more.” Boy is that a loaded word. Might as well say everything, it’s more accurate.
So we dove in. Or rather, I dove in and came back up dragging articles, pictures, and coloring sheets from the internet. He digested those within a day.
We watched 15 or so videos. He expressed disgust that “they all show the same plants, mommy!” One of them casually mentioned the number of species and his eyes lit up – 700 species! That’s what he wanted to see – that’s what he wanted videos about.
I saw an opening – sure, there are 700 odd species, but most of them fall into one of a few categories. Time to learn the categories, right? Umph!
There is NOTHING online designed for a small child who wants to learn excruciating details about carnivorous plants. No texts, no printables, no lesson plans or curriculum. Nope. Nothing. I found a lot of super technical sites that are designed for carnivorous plant enthusiasts – you know, the ones who sit there with tweezers and q-tips waiting to pollinate their plants? Those people – the ones my child will probably grow up to be like.
So yet again, I’m making the materials. And that takes a long time!
Along the way, I found him a video and a picture of a bladderwort plant. And against my will, I was pulled in to the swirling mystique of carnivorous plants. You see, some people argue that the bladderwort trap is THE most complex leaf on the planet. It’s amazing! It’s a suction trap, and it’s so effective that it creates a vacuum by expelling water from the trap. It triggers so fast that video can barely catch the sequence. It’s incredible – and it quickly became one of the Engineer’s favorites.
So thanks to my new-found stash of carnivorous plant knowledge, I found the salamanders’ daily water bath looking quite familiar. I poked and prodded – what was that? Did I really see that?
I did. So I left a small piece of the mess in a container for him to find in the morning. I thoughtfully placed a magnifying glass and light beside it.
Later when I asked him what he thought about what I left, his eyes lit up. “I think it’s a bladderwort!” he exclaimed. “Where is it from?”
I told him that it’s growing in the pond in our subdivision. He was amazed! A carnivorous plant in our own backyard? So cool, right?
How many 5-year-olds do you know who would swoon over a little weed? Mine did – he’s in love. He wistfully talked about watching the trap go off – and sadly realized that we didn’t have the best microscope to make it work. I consoled him with a promise to make our own slides to look at the bladder with the microscope we do have.
It’s tough wanting to know everything about something and not being able to do all of it.
He has plans for a bog in our yard to grow the plants. We’re doing a field trip to a local carnivorous plant nursery and the botanical gardens. He wants to take pictures and add them to his book that he’s making. He wants to make a field trip to North Carolina to see the venus fly traps growing in the wild.
I can’t keep up with him.
I can’t feed the monster fast enough. And I know far more about carnivorous plants than I ever wanted to!
Gifted isn’t just about depth – it’s about breadth too. Both. At the same time. Tomorrow we’ll move on to tigers or something else weird. Or honeybees. Or nanobots. Conventional wisdom says focus on one thing and become a master at it – gifted says let’s learn about everything! All of it!
And no bog. I put my foot down at that one. I don’t need a squashy, mosquito-enticing mess in my yard. Nope. Kill that dream boyo – not happening. Maybe a sundew in a bottle – because those things are seriously cool! But no bog.
(and clearly I’m just as much of a geek as he is because I took a picture of the thing! Pond water thing, with critters roaming around. Yuck.)
You explained it beautifully! My son, same age as yours is the same. He fixated and learns all he can about a single subject. It’s hard to keep up with! Right now it’s physics. Yikes! I feel like I’m in school again! Loved this post! Thanks for sharing it. Reminds parents like us we’re not the only ones. 🙂