Yeah, you heard me: guest post. Someone finally got me to reverse my stance—I just don’t have the bandwidth or interest for most of the offers I receive. They usually involve promoting a product or service, or completely serve the poster’s audience; mine, not so much.
But Kaboom J. Schneider is no ordinary guy. Yeah, yeah, he’s a former member of the Usual Gang of Idiots at MAD Magazine, writes for blogs, newspapers and magazines around the world and specializes in social media management. (But MORE IMPORTANTLY, he’s written “Spy vs. Spy,” my absolute favorite cult comic from childhood. If I tell any of the six kids in this house their heads will explode.)
One of the things I like about Kaboom is that he talks about his personal life in a way that I can’t, but would like to do. I’m hemmed in by careful consideration of others around me, some deservng, some not, but all in a position to have great effect on my life and my children’s lives. They come first, so my (public) cathartic writing comes second, sometimes tenth.
Kaboom has a thoughtful, touching way of viewing his family, his boys, his own little superheroes. The way he writes about these guys fits right in with my own philosophy of writing: if it tugs at you and won’t be silenced and is true and hopefully funny, write it the fuck down. Hesitation usually means that something important is about to happen, and how you treat that something is what defines life and makes it worth hanging around for. You can find him over at Kaboom Industries.
The Unknown Future of The Gifted Child.
By Kaboom J. Schneider
My eldest son is a genius. I confidently compare him to Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other social misfits who changed the world while suffering dating problems and other odd mannerisms. Those of you with gifted children are nervously laughing but you know the situation. Gifted children have the same problems as special needs kids. They do not fit society’s ideal of the perfect child.
I often have to remind myself that when Jake blurts out a chemistry theory in the middle of dinner, making me reply, “that’s nice. Finish your mac and cheese,” he has just come up with the cure for some disease or some other world-saving solution. I need to learn to write them down as they are numerous.
It takes patience, a sense of humor and extra understanding when it comes to a gifted child. They are loud, excited, switch directions in thinking faster than most nerve synapses can handle. They are the thinkers, the dreamers and the ones who were accused of witchery for being different. Unlike special needs children, gifted children understand they are different and they feel every slight and hurt heaped upon them by their peers. They feel conflicted and frustrated and don’t have the socialization skills that would allow them to fit into the “crowd.” Jake seems to shake it off easier than I can. Like any parent, I want my child to be happy and well adjusted. I want my child to be able to look back on a happy childhood with fond memories and not anxiety over having to struggle everyday to be accepted for just being human.
Jake has the usual odd quirks that apparently most gifted children have. His diet consists of grains and dairy. When I meet a parent of a gifted child, we laugh and shake our heads at the consumption of pasta but no tomato sauce, waffles but no syrup, peanut butter but no jelly and no spices or sharp tastes. When Jake, his brother and I go out to a Chinese restaurant, he eats nothing but white rice with salt, while his younger brother, who is also of above average intelligence, sample different dishes and varying levels of heat. I yearn for the day Jake tries something named after some Asian general or province. For now, his love of rice will take him fairly far in Japan, where he hopes to live, working with robotics.
He’s not suffering from his diet. At age fourteen, he’s six-feet tall, handsome and has a clean complexion. While I am amazed he hasn’t contracted scurvy or rickets, his daily intake of a gallon of milk without so much as a piece of fruit or vegetable seem to keep him healthy. Figure that one out, AMA!
It’s not only his food choices that worry me about his future in society. Jake’s table manners would shock those in prison and insane asylums. Despite over a decade of attempting to teach him not to hold a fork as if it’s a shovel, he just won’t stop holding one like a primate. For some odd reason, he’s quite adept at using chopsticks, so if he moves to Asia, the social stigma may not be noticed, unless they wonder why he uses them to eat peanut butter sandwiches or rice, one grain at a time.
It’s not all times of frustration. I am proud of my son. He babysits the neighbor’s three young children and they love him dearly. He is kind to animals and must pet every dog or cat he sees. He is sensible with his money, sensitive to others and smiles and says hello to everyone he meets. He is also not embarrassed to give me a hug when I meet him at his school while my better-adjusted 12 year-old son cringes at my saying hello to him in front of his friends. The world may very well chew him up and spit him out. Society rarely rewards those who are kind, patient and have innovative ideas that improve life. It explains the popularity of most reality shows.
He is certainly bound for MIT, Harvard, Stanford or Cal Tech, perhaps even Yale with other societal misfits. I suppose he will meet some other gifted child who will love him for what he is – I just cringe at the thought of having dinner with both of them. Right now he shows no sign of any interest in the opposite sex – except a fondness for watching Selina Gomez on TV, staring at her as if she were a waffle with no syrup. While I am in no hurry to see either child move out, I picture myself cooking endless vats of mac and cheese for a 30 year-old virgin, who is bound to his computer.
I suppose he will end up meeting some woman who will either accept him for his strengths and be charmed by his gentle kindness and peculiarities, with an eye towards helping him grow his career and fit into society; or someone who will meet him after he has attained his notoriety and take him for everything he owns. Love blinds the most intelligent man as the other brain… the one down below that doesn’t use logic or emotion, takes over all actions.
As a parent, I will try to give him the tools he needs to survive in society and to become a good man, husband and father. I just know, deep in my heart, that if he does find love and gets married, when we throw rice at him and his bride, he’ll stop to pick it up and eat it.
Kaboom Schneider has worked for such human companies as MAD Magazine (Warner Bros.), Hallmark Cards, Golden Books Family Entertainment, and has created products for Disney/Pixar, Harley-Davidson, ESPN, DC and Marvel Comics, American Greetings, SmartHealth, American Express Publishing, Scholastic, United Media, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Merck, the N.Y. Daily News, The New York Times and other firms eventually exterminated by the Most Benevolent Giant Robot Overlord.
Which sort of begs the question, why does he want to write with me? I’m like low-budget Keystone Cops over here.