Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Idiot Savant

I’m smart. Really smart. It’s not something that I announce, and that is probably the first time I’ve written those words. I’m smart.

When I was three, my mother asked, “When would you like to start school?”


The next day or shortly thereafter she enrolled me in a local private school. It was easy. After realizing that that school might not be meeting my academic needs, my parents transferred me to a private school in a neighboring town.

I entered public school in the second grade. At some point in elementary school my father became quite perturbed that the teacher had me teaching the students most of the day. He blasted the entire administration. Then the testing began.

The testing period was quite vague to me. In fact I don’t remember it all, but I remember after the testing people began to treat me differently. Often I would see my mother at the school coming from meetings with one person or another. She seemed perplexed. Many times I hadn’t known she was there until after the fact.

In about the third or fourth grade some students, the gifted ones, would leave for some of the school days, and come back completely satisfied, nourished, and refreshed. I stayed behind continuing to assist in teaching school.

In fact that was what I did all day on most days even in the summer. I beckoned kids from the neighborhood and taught school in my garage. My grandmother served snacks at my scheduled intervals. I taught the school. It’s the same thing I do for a living now.

In the fifth grade, on some acronym created standardized math assessment, I scored the highest grade possible in the state. This gave me some sort of national ranking.

When I transitioned to middle school, no entry testing needed, I too carried the gifted label. The district insisted that to best meet my needs, I needed to be with people like me. They were and I needed them.

My mom wanted normalcy. She feared stories of crazy gifted people not being able to acclimate to regular life or ‘tie their own shoes’. Instead of academic exposure, she exposed me to cultural literacy- literature, dance, classical music, jazz, theatre, travel, and the arts.

It was not until I was nineteen, that Mom told me the results of the test from my younger years. “You are a genius.”

“I know.”

“No, really a Mensa level genius,” she said.

“I know.” By then I really did know.

Life was easy. I understood things. I could figure out things.

Being smart didn’t mean that one always made smart decisions. At least for me it didn’t. It meant that somewhere in my brain, I could figure out things. Decoding. Mathematical equations, theories, philosophy, relationships, business plans, recipes, languages, budgets, people, habits, religion. I could figure out things.

I traipsed around the world figuring out things. This is how it was for many years. Then my father died.

I had convinced the health care professionals, our family, and even him, I had figured out cancer. We would do this and then do that and voila we would begin out next venture in 'regular' life.

Slowly, during his illness, I began to realize that maybe I didn’t have this thing understood. Manically, I continued to search, research, and modify. Search, research, and modify. His health dwindled. For some reason, people allowed me to spearhead his recovery. It was taking over my smartness and my sanity.

When he died, I couldn’t understand. I did everything I knew to do and failed. Within two years following his death, I no longer understood anything. I couldn’t figure out anything.

I lost my business, my marriage, my friends, my financial stability and was near losing my mind. Daily, I would relive the last minutes of my father’s life. What had I done wrong?

Feeling anything but smart I went to my mother’s and become glued to her cold tile floor. The kids stayed three doors away at my grandparents'. She let me stay there for a few days. I couldn’t get up. I had fallen and I couldn’t get up.

My mother came to me, “When would you like to start life again.”


Then she said the smartest thing, “You don’t have time to be crazy. God is love.”

My mother is surviving cancer now. I don’t pretend to understand, or know, anything more than anyone else. I know that God is love. And life is fabulous!

God is love


rahkyt said...

Second take = clarity n bemusement, as ur visage was clearly legible throughout. A 'special' write, cuzin. Let ur lil lite shine brite. Prayers, to u n urs, always.

Teffanie said...

Thanks, Cuz! Huh, The affirming power of the write. I had to write my way to clarity and safety. Peace to you and yours.

kirt said...

What a beautiful story, Teffanie. The vulnerability you expose through your process is so honest and true. It's very endearing :) Thank you for the gift of your 'tell.'

Teffanie said...

Thanks, Kirt, I mean Pam.

Danielle H. said...

A dear, dear woman. Thank you for your moving "tell."
I'm so very grateful that you're in my life, that you share pieces of your journey, that you share you.... that you create spaces for others to find their places to share themselves.