Probably because I’m in that sort of mood, I’m going to devote today to venting about “gifted and talented.”

I don’t precisely object to the idea that people have talents/gifts, though I’ll be honest, most days, looking at me and the things I do, I wonder if there is such a thing, or if it’s just an enormous amount of work substituting for gifts and talents. Or if an enormous amount of work can and often does substitute for gifts.

Look, like the chicken and the egg, it’s impossible to say not just which came first, but if there is one without the other.

I am aware some people are instinctively, almost effortlessly better at some things. I think the fact that we all have — more or less. These days I mostly resemble a rhomboid or a sea lion — the same basic shape — and we can use language to understand each other tricks us into thinking as human beings we’re more or less the same, but there are a ton of differences. Not just the difference that is “vive la diference!” but a lot of startling ones. Like, I don’t know about you tovarish, but the voice behind my eyes (which doesn’t have a Russian accent, unless I’ve been listening to TMIAHM again, which I have) is a voice, doing narration. But because I’m not a particularly auditory thinker, the voice in my head is actually the soft clack clack of a typewriter, and the words appear, typed in my head in an endless roll.

At any rate I think in words, with apparently film noir trimmings. So, imagine my surprise when, as husband was engaged in a difficult bit of writing, he revealed that he thinks in images. As in he sees a movie inside his head. And then he has to translate to words, which apparently makes the whole thing more difficult.

Anyway, to backtrack, some people are instinctive good at some things. This is rarely a “full task.” Like, suppose you have to cook something. You might be instinctively good at picking ingredients, or have a good feel for how to chop various things. OR you might be excellent at adjusting seasoning. You’ll very rarely have all of those, so you’ll have to learn the things you don’t have “for free.” And it’s possible for you to learn them so well that eventually you can — easily — do all of those tasks, and you no longer remember what you got for free. Unless you’re a freak of nature, and that thing remains far an above best for you.

BUT it’s possible to be good at and succeed at things you have not the slightest talent for. Take me and my brother, for instance (do. And feed us. We’re both getting old, and we’ll have an argument in your living room while you cook.) He has a natural talent for languages. You could drop that man naked in the middle of the Amazonian jungle, and he’d emerge a few months later speaking several of the languages like a native.

Me? No discernible talent for languages. Not even a little. I was always good at my native language, but learning a foreign language was a process in which I lagged behind even the dumb classmates. My accent was atrocious, my grammar odd, and my vocabulary askew.

And yet, I not only managed to graduate, I managed to — at one point — be fluent in 7 languages, which I could interpret to and from at the same time (and did, in very weird circumstances.) Or rather, you know one after the other, as I couldn’t actually speak two foreign languages in the same instant.

How? Well…. I made more of an effort than my classmates. WAY more of an effort. And we won’t compare my effort with the amount of effort it would take my brother, because that will just make me cry.

Of course, the minute I stopped making an effort, I started losing ability. I could probably recover French and Italian, if I absolutely needed to and made a lot of effort. i suspect German is gone forever. The others…. I don’t know. I’ve had little exposure to them over the last 10 years, at least.

And yeah, I’m currently making a living in my third language, but I think I did that by effectively replacing Portuguese in the “native language” slot. At least no one who listens to me trying to speak Portuguese would believe I”m a native speaker. Fortunately mom is getting old and no loner laughs out loud at my issues.

Anyway, the point being if you’d met me in the days I was working as a translator and interpreter you’d probably think I had a talent or a gift.

Which brings us right back to “gifted and talented.” These people are essentially saying the same thing in two different ways.

Gifts and talents are those things you get “for free.” Which is a blessing and a curse.

For one, if it is a genuine gift or talent, you’ll undervalue you, because you assume everyone can do “that thing.”

And if you’re a particularly non-observant disposition, or if you only hang out with people who are like you, you might go through life being really annoyed at people who “refuse to do thing” because “it’s so easy, if you just try.”

I’ve had this pushed on me for the strangest things. Like, born in a family where perfect pitch is “normal”, after my hearing became terrible at 12 (The songs I learned before that do have perfect pitch) I was forbidden to sing and told if I wasn’t “even going to try.” Then there was jumping rope. To this day mom thinks dad, brother and I were actively punking her when we refused to jump rope. Oh, and on that, there are many, many gym teachers in Portugal who spent their lives devising creative punishments for me, because they were sure no one could be that bad, so I must be doing it on purpose.

And while I realize some of my quirks are hard to believe — like the fact I can’t dribble a basketball. I don’t mean I can’t try to dribble it. I really DO try and if the basketball teacher I made cry is reading this: I WAS TRYING. For two hours. I just can’t get my hands and feet to coordinate, let alone deal with a basketball — I really was attempting my best.

Oh, that is the reverse of natural talents. Almost all of us have one thing at which we’re startlingly, bizarrely bad.

Yeah, mostly it can be overcome, if you’re willing to devote enough time to learning it. (Look, for me to learn to jump rope or dribble a basketball would probably take the time remaining to the heat death of the universe. And I don’t have that kind of interest.)

Anyway, the other problem with your natural talents is that, even if you become aware of them, you might have absolutely no clue how you do “this thing.” So supposing something happens and you lose it, you can’t get back there again. More importantly, if your talent is necessary to whatever you do for a living, you’ll go in fear you’ll lose it suddenly.

(Chill. Barring major health issues, this is unlikely.)

The other thing I object to, is classing PEOPLE as “gifted and talented.” First because everyone has his or her own gift or talent. Yes, sure, it might be that you were born to be the world’s greatest tiddly wink player. But it’s still a talent. But second of all, because no one is uniformly gifted or talented.

And btw, that’s the third danger. If your gift is overwhelming, you tend to lean on it REALLY hard, and never realize you could learn other stuff, which in turn means that while you might have a career as a chef, your food will never be as good as it could be. Or mutatis mutandis, your books will never be as great.

In my case, I get two of the many gifts a writer needs for free: language (the most useless gift) and characters (the most annoying gifts, collectively.)

The first one has forced me to keep a straight face and not know what to say when I get stuff like “I can tell you slaved over every word”. I used to get this A LOT in rejections and it made me go “Oh, hell no. Hopefully I remembered to spell check.” I get it as a compliment too, though. As in even some of my detractors will say things like “of course her use of language is wonderful.”

I not only don’t know what they’re talking about, I’m not jealous of whoever knows. Look, I use the words I need to to get where I’m going. I do try to read over and spell check because I’m the queen of typos. (And I don’t read over or spell check blog posts, before you ask. For reason of not being paid for them.) But that’s about it.

Then there’s characters. My characters is to be so out of proportion for my writing that it often led mentors to say “I know you’re not really interested in the plot” or whatever. But really, no. I just get full people in my head, talking about themselves and what they’re doing.

But therein lies a trap. You see, I rarely (once or twice) can write what they “are doing” without tweaking. Because when Himself handed out plotting ability, I’d just gone to the kitchen for a cup of tea.

So the fact these people are very sure they know everything that needs to happen made things more difficult for years. You can bend the narration, but since I didn’t fully understand how, my books ended up like my mom’s 11 things stew which she made when she was cleaning the kitchen. Eleven things was a minimum and she didn’t throw in the kitchen sink because she didn’t have a large enough pan. When you kitchen sink a plot, it becomes a formless blob no one can enjoy. (I wasn’t that fond of the stew, either.)

I eventually figured it out by diagramming plots of books I liked until my back brain got the point. And now by and large I can do plot, I just don’t get it for free.

I’m much better at diagnosing plot missteps than character or language, though, because well, I had to learn it. Hand over hand. One by one, like Juan Valdez.

So you see, sometimes the gifts you’re giving are not the gifts you need. You still can’t give them back, and you have to learn to work around them.

And sometimes the gifts you aren’t given means you get to learn to do something really well.

And “gifted and talented” remains a moronic phrase. It’s like “tall and height enhanced” or something.

See, that offends me, because it’s just bad use of the language. And everyone should be good at language instinctively, of course. It’s like they’re not even trying.

63 thoughts on “Gifts

  1. The first one has forced me to keep a straight face and not know what to say when I get stuff like “I can tell you slaved over every word”. I used to get this A LOT in rejections and it made me go “Oh, hell no. Hopefully I remembered to spell check.”

    Honestly, I’ve gotten that one, too. Not a gift per se, more of a “Thirty-six years including formative ones reading, misunderstanding, going for the dictionary before there was an internet, asking random adults, getting different things wrong, fixing those mistakes, reading broadly, underestimating the depth of my ignorance, curing that (slightly, and ongoing), teaching others when I had no business doing so, learning more from my students than they did from me (far as I could tell, anyway), reading some more and finally, finally getting to the point where I could recognize others’ mistakes and some of the ones I’d been making for more than a decade…” kind of thing.

    It’s hard not to blurt out that those “slaved over” and “worked really hard on” words were dashed off in ten or fifteen minutes while listening to music and cooking. Or that those words are a mishmash of stuff smarter folks have told me over the years, not anything I came up with on the spot.

    One of these days I need to write a post on losing your mind and getting it back again, at least most of it. Never did get music back, but at least I can listen to music now (I couldn’t without dissecting the piece to death, kind of like the curse of the internal editor).

    1. OH. Yes. On losing your mind. I’ll take that as a guest post for ATH if you’re willing.
      I’ve gone through this twice: concussion and then hypothyroidism.
      I’m JUST starting to be myself again.

      1. Can’t make any hard promises, but I’ll give it a shot. Life is… less a precarious balance (normal, for me) than a mad dash down the mountain to escape the avalanche of late. But on the if and when, you got it.

  2. “Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action. It is the chart that remains when an action is through. That is all Plot ever should be. It is human desire let run, running, and reaching a goal. It cannot be mechanical. It can only be dynamic. So, stand aside, forget targets, let the characters, your fingers, body, blood, and heart do.”
    — Ray Bradbury

    …or as my characters sourly retort, “…the bloody trail we left in the mud as we’re running for our lives.”

    1. ‘Plot as design’ really does matter for some writers.

      If you had ‘complete’ information for a wide range of characters acting for a ‘long’ period of time, you would have a fairly large number of permutations in the choice of details, without changing the events at all. Given that we can invent, the permutations are infinite. Okay, most of those permutations are pointless.

      Unlike civil engineers and buildings, or software engineers and programs, story designs are much more flexible. If the overall pattern makes sense, the missing bits can be filled in by the reader.

      /If./ There is still a very large number of permutations that make some degree of sense. So, even if characters fix the events, and emotional reactions firmly in place, there are still a bunch of design choices that can be made to fit reader perception of pattern more or less.

      Bradbury’s Mars stories rubbed me the wrong way, but I can believe he knew selection of details, and might have been blind to that difficulty in other writers.

  3. I once watched Buddy Lazier driving a car while talking on a cell phone. The man won the Indy 500 with a broken back, and had a decent racing career. Watching him with his then team owner next to me while Buddy in the rental drove around an airplane, we were worried he was going to hit it. stop/start. jerk wheel etc. Turns out, while an excellent driver at high speed, he cannot do anything else while driving. Owner said “Yeah, don’t bother listening to our team on the scanners, not much gets said because if you talk to him he slows down a tenth, and if he talks he slows down even more.”

  4. “Gifted and Talented” In schools gets them money. So they need to identify as many kids as possible as that. Same as ESL, or Special Needs (or whatever the the current woke term is). Individual teachers care (mostly, when they start, before the system wears them down) but school district administrators don’t.

    And this is less defined and ubiquitous in society. One is either admired for one’s talents ( . . . so clever at math . . . a brilliant athlete . . .) pitied (sort of) for one’s weaknesses (. . . such a shame . . . tries his hardest but . . . ).

    It seems like it’s impossible to be judged as a whole individual. You’re either part of a group or a stand out attribute.

    1. I’m probably prejudiced in favor of the phrase just because of school experiences many years ago.

      It seemed that every other year the school announced a fast track for “gifted and talented” students. Then the next year they would decide, “oh, no, that’s elitist, to be fair we have to throw everyone into the same pot.”

      The years when they had special classes were marginally less boring than the years when they were being “fair.” So I have positive associations with the phrase “gifted and talented” because in my school days it meant, “This year you don’t have to spend all your class time watching Bubba and Leroy throwing pencils at each other.”

      There was still way too much pencil-throwing, though, which is why I dropped out after tenth grade.

        1. I think of it as the Great Escape. Improved my life immeasurably.

          1. Well, my “little Tiger” wife (thank God, she’s not a full on Tiger Mom) just doesn’t get that. Yes, there’s a point to formal schooling (make sure everyone has a certain minimum level of knowledge, including in subjects they find boring), but most learning should be outside of school.

            Quote from her: “How did you learn that on your own?” I actually like using books, then hands-on, but my eldest brother likes to skip even the books, and just start doing stuff. He’s learned to play accordion and pipe organ on his own. And back when he was a teenager, in the mid 1980’s, he designed and built his own 8080-based computer, soldered it together, wrote machine code, and entered it using switches – with only a few bugs! My other brother was reading college chemistry texts in junior high, and advanced physics in high school. And, of course, none of our toys (such as slot cars) lasted too long.

      1. I was lucky enough to be at a school with a full G&T track, which meant I had the same classmates from 2nd through 6th grade. There were a couple of kids pressured into the track by parents who later dropped back into the normal classes, because we really were doing more things faster. I also had the bonus of being in a class that collectively realized that when we followed the rules, we got to do more things. Like silk-screening our own Hobbit-themed drawings onto t-shirts and bags. We did a play every year (the school was built with a real stage, not a multipurpose room stage, and had things like wings on the sides and even a couple of dressing rooms.) We got to go on epic trips to the coast and Yosemite.

        Also note that my name was at the end of the alphabet, so I know for a fact that there were more than thirty students in these classes. Any time they bring up the dire comments about how “class size is going up!” I have to find the numbers—and they’re always “going up” to smaller numbers than I experienced. Without student teachers.

        1. Once we got to those — not before middle or high school — it was — marginally less unpleasant.

      2. Two best schools I attended across the U.S. (there were 10) did not have a GT program, they had a Responsibility Program for students who wanted to learn.

    2. I’m actually G & T endorsed on my teaching certificate. There are several ways to ‘be’ G & T:
      – Actually have a specific talent – math, writing, art, etc. This is the smallest group.
      – Be recommended by a teacher (can we say suck-ups and their toady parents are good at this?)
      – Hit certain numbers on standardized tests
      – Have a parent who comes in asking why her Precious was not given the opportunity – helps to be someone who they would NOT want talking to the media about the unfairness
      – Be completely average in every way, but a conscientious student who scores in the upper part of the class. The upper-middle class is very good at getting their kids to qualify.

      LEAST likely to be in those classes?
      The honestly high IQ kids who are rednecks, homeless, and/or Deplorable. I’ve known a few of those who have amazing intellectual gifts, but never were put into the classes. Some of them prefer to take the regular classes, as they don’t have to work as hard, and can be in classes with their friends (as opposed to those little snobs who would torture them).

      1. There’s another way:
        Other teachers running interference to save an Odd kid from an evil teacher.

        I’m dyslexic, a rather oddly-shaped peg, and my 4th grade was rather rough . I actually don’t remember most of the details, just vague impressions of constant copy work, failing handwriting, and standing in front of the class to be yelled at.
        I do know that my parents eventually found out near the end of the school year because one of my friends evidently went home and cried every night about how I was being treated, and happenstance had our parents run into each other at a social thing.
        I do know that she sent me to special ed as a humiliation. And the special ed teacher provided me refuge, saw that I was tested for LDs and IQ, and fought hard to get me into TAG (so I had TWO afternoons away from the evil mumble every week! And a needed boost of self-confidence.) God, bless him.

        1. Someone did that for older son who was just bored out of his gourd and whom the teacher hated.
          This happens. But most of the time, meh.
          BTW ALSO dyslexic and OMG my handwriting ….
          BUT I was lucky. I went to a school where half of my ancestors had attended, in a village where we were known, so the effect was, “Just let her be. She learns, anyway.”

      2. I actually was tested in, through a psychologist-directed session in first grade. (I remember a very little bit of it, primarily that they stopped when I was getting bored after a couple of hours, and at that point I was “at an eighth grade reading level.” Which I thought, even then, said something sad about the expected level of reading for eighth graders.)

        1. Scratches nose. Older son proposed to the lady who tested him. (Not school. School botched it.) She was grad student, and tested him over 3 days. They used him to test some tests?
          Anyway, he proposed with a plan for her support based on his allowance (money he made for chores) and selling homemade comics. She said she wished her fiance had THAT much of a clue.

    3. “Gifted and Talented” because “Smarter than the other kids” is poor optics.

      1. Eh. Not really. Most of the people teachers identify for “gifted and talented” are “high normal.”
        The schools will deliberately screw up IQ tests for genuine high IQ. Though honestly, I should retract that. I’m not sure it’s deliberate.

    4. Most of the gifted and talented are “just clever enough.” They actually have no idea what to do with a high IQ kid.
      Which I get. Frankly, I still don’t.

  5. I wound up covering something pretty similar today, hee. (Though mine is “screwing up initially doesn’t mean you can never cook.”)

    But in any case–I remember spending a lot of time while younger angsting about Required Secondary Superpowers–it’s all well and good to have superstrength, but without super-tough bones and tendons you’re not gonna have a good time. Or superspeed and ability to deal with friction. Well… what use is analysis and ability to connect unlike things if you can’t plan, or communicate your findings?

    I never put together that “executive function” was a learnable skill, not ability to communicate, nor command of non-verbal signals I was giving off. It doesn’t matter if everyone else in the world gets it for free–you’re not sunk if you don’t, you just need to try harder.

    (I was also an arrogant little monster who couldn’t be convinced a lot of these things were important. It was my own fault, really. I’m just glad I grew up eventually…)

    Well said, in any case. It’s a good set of things to remember

  6. How does one “know” anything? Observation and introspection do it for me. Information I am told/taught is no more than that — what other people seem to “think.”

    Those who talk don’t know,
    Those who know don’t talk.

    An observation: those who tell/teach seek confirmation and support. They apparently lack the self awareness to “know” so there’s no point in telling/teaching them. Those who know have given up “talking” to the talkers because, what’s the point? Shouting at the ocean?

    Which brings me to my point: in this recent post Miss Sarah exemplifies a process that seems common to “worders” — introspection as a thorough probe of observation. Posts here and on ATH tend to showcase personal stories and reflections on them. Some really great posts draw the unwitting reader into reflection without making them.

    I try to moderate my storyteller with the rule “it’s not all about me.” I was taught that “I” is not an acceptable pronoun to use in “objective” discourse like academic treatises. Those who “know” see the intent of the prohibition without a facility to declare it to those who don’t. Self awareness is an essential prerequisite for attaining knowledge and wisdom, Without it we have mere “information” — data essential for thinking and living but quite distinct from knowing.

  7. I have mixed feelings about ‘gifted and talented’. Sometimes it’s been beneficial for my kids (we didn’t have anything similar when I was a lass).

    More often, it’s been like painting a target on them. Extra work, disliked by classmates, and, worst of all, punished by the teacher for being smarter.
    That was youngest son in second grade. I complained and got nowhere. The school didn’t give a rat’s ass.

    Having to do extra work because you’re ‘smarter’ doesn’t make anyone want to be ‘gifted and talented’.

    Or not until you get paid better.

  8. I sort of liked G&T, but then the entire district was Odd, and then the parents and teachers got added . . . In Texas? Nope, no G&T, languages were started later, and the only advanced option involved AP classes. I got the sense that some of my aptitudes were Odd, but not that I was smarter than anyone. More widely read, oooooh yeah, and more determined to do well so that I could escape, but not smarter. Being smarter meant you became a target, and I already had one of those on my back, thank you!

  9. I feel strange reading these responses about the G&T kids. I learned after graduation that as far back as grade school the guidance counselor wanted to have me hopped ahead a grade or two because of my intelligence. Mom told me she flat-out refused because ‘I didn’t want you treated differently than anyone else.’ Which left me stuck in the same class as several of the school thugs who were two years older than the rest of us and who enjoyed making everyone’s life hell.

    1. Because you were real G & T. I wonder how old you are. My history is almost the same.
      Meanwhile with younger son we fought them tooth and nail to advance him and they LIED TO US that it was impossible. (With older son too.) And G & T classes were for “well behaved kids” having nothing to do with intelligence.

      1. The more I’m reading the comments here, the more I realize how deeply odd (and awesome) my district was about G&T.

    2. My parents got me out of that class by grabbing an opportunity to have the school hold me *back* a year in 4th grade. I don’t know if going forward would have worked. Probably not. I was too ADD to get my assignments done. But I do agree with my parents that getting me OUT of the class I was in was a Very Good Thing.

  10. Back in middle school, there was a voluntary summer-school-like program through the state college that did all sorts of cool classes. (I did engineering, programming, and computer dissection, for example.) One class I took was “Study Skills,” which first taught speed-reading (which is not the same thing that I do, even though they had to recalibrate the scales for me, because “speed-reading” is a type of skimming, and I just read everything faster through years and years of dedicated practice.) At one point, they had us take the Myers-Briggs. They looked at mine and said, No, no, that’s not you at all.

    It was all in how they phrased the questions. I’m an intuitive—a very strong intuitive—but I’d been practicing things like proper research technique for so long that when questions like “How do you look up books for a paper?” came up, well, I answered as I’d been taught. In fact, it took me until well after college to understand what kind of handicap I’d been working under in regards to writing—and it explains why my philosophy papers were always better-received than my English papers. (Jesuit college, so philosophy is actually a real study instead of woo, and English professors are demons for evidence.) (And damn, I really wish I’d known how close I was to a philosophy minor. It would have been something like two more classes, and like I said, it was real study.)

  11. First because everyone has his or her own gift or talent. Yes, sure, it might be that you were born to be the world’s greatest tiddly wink player. But it’s still a talent. But second of all, because no one is uniformly gifted or talented.

    I ran across people who talked like that in school. They made me miserable because their view was that life was zero sum and having several talents showed that you must be horribly deficient in some other respect.

    1. Gah. Obviously not. Not everyone is equal in the end. BUT people aren’t UNIFORM. No one is perfect, i guess I’m saying.
      And yep, everyone has something they’re good at. Sometimes it’s somehting really stupid.

      1. A post idea I saw somewhere else– may have been facebook, been years– was “what weird skill do you have”?

        Mine is that I can re-zip feathers.

        Like, you have a pintail feather, and it has “splits” instead of being smooth, I’m just good and getting it to lay flat again.

        ….I mean, ducks do it with their beaks, so this is not some HUGE thing, but it is hard for folks to get the hang of.

      2. And the order the strengths are discovered or developed in is not written in stone somewhere.

        Order matters. A strength for trolling is going to shape one differently if it is the first, tenth, or hundredth strength discovered.


  12. Gym class was also terrible for me; to this day walking is my favorite form of exercise.

    1. I miss track, swimming, karate, handball, skating, and football. Walking is kind of boring.

      And gym class sucked hard vacuum.

      I can kneel and run (sort of) again, so I am grateful.

      1. Where I was, “physical education” was feetball in the summer, basketball in the winter.

        What that meant was, “the team” played ball, and everyone else did “exercises”, which seemed designed to be as miserable as possible.

    2. The very best form of exercise is the one you’re willing to do every day.

      That said, try adding hand weights for a bit more strength and do some flexibility (like dancing!) to improve balance.

      My parents were religious walkers and did all the usual household/yard stuff but they’ve lost all muscle tone and have terrible balance.

      1. I read somewhere you can regain balance…it just takes practice. Seriously. Standing on one leg while holding a chair. Do that for a while, then try without the chair, and so on. I do it myself so I won’t lose balance.

        1. You can! That’s part of why I lift weights – it keeps all the little stabilizing muscles strong, as well as the major muscles. You don’t even have to do barbell squats: at the gym where I go, there are several elderly ladies who started by simply sitting on a stool just below parallel, and then getting back up (they started with help, in one case. Then graduated to do it without using their arms.) They then graduated to doing so while holding a weight to their chest, and then the weight got heavier. As it did, they went from very uncertain and unsteady when standing and walking to standing taller and walking without the dread hesitation. Now, the trainer has removed several spacers piled on the stool (cut boards), and they’re squatting down and standing back up without the stool’s help at all… and they report that they’re now strong enough to get up when they fall without having to get assistance… but their balance has so improved they aren’t nearly as worried about falling.

          1. We have free weights at home and I’ve been randomly lifting those. Honestly, your posts and comments about weight lifting have made me realize that I need to do that on a regular basis. This getting old thing is not for wimps!

        2. I wish I could get my parents to do this. Sadly, they won’t. It’s a combination of inertia, you can’t tell me what to do, and sinking (both of them) slowly into dementia.
          It’s why I do a wide variety of exercises so I’ve got the habit and have some hope of retaining my muscle tone.

  13. A person’s proclivities is the foundation on which the house of experience is built. We are all the sum of those proclivities (Inheritance) and experience. My Mom was always heavy on the “nature” end of nature V. Nurture, though some of the mistakes she made…
    When I was about 9 or so she was concerned that something was wrong with me because i was using my left hand. We visited a specialist who proclaimed I was actually right-handed, much to her relief. The cure was to tie my left arm to my side for a period of some week, to ‘cure’ me of those dastardly sinister emotives. Consequence? for years I had difficulty with which way was right or left. if someone told me to go to my right, I would quietly squeeze the fist of my right hand to reinforce the correct direction. Caught myself many times turning in the wrong direction. To the plus, I am ambidexterous. I’m not sure if I was already, or that I got special treatment that created the condition.

    As far as G & T goes, the perfect form is as follows:
    16 oz. glass
    Fill with ice
    1/2 full of Bombay Sapphire (Infused)
    2-3 oz Rose’s sweetened Lime juice.
    Fill to the top with anti-malarial (Tonic)
    Don’t let the ice melt!

  14. I got grammar for “free”, not as a talent but because my parents both spoke more or less correct grammar and we had books in our home and I read early.

    Which brings me to what you said about what happens when you don’t have to learn something. I don’t KNOW grammar. And when I try to learn it, it’s really hard to learn and impossible to remember. I might have gotten it for “free” but there’s a reason that I haven’t volunteered to copy edit for anyone or (worse) decided to put a shingle out there as a copy editor. I’ve even taken editing and advanced grammar in college recently and got A’s, so I ought to be good at it. But I can’t remember the rules for any of it. I’m not talking about word replacement typos where my fingers type one thing when I know very well that the correct word is something else. But if you told me last week when to use who and when to use whom, there’s no spot in my brain for it. Tell me some weird factoid about the reproductive process of shrimp living on black smoker vents in the deep ocean and ask me again a decade from now, and I’ll probably remember every bit.

  15. *holds up his character sheet*

    Gifts and talents are *not* free. I had to spend background points for them! Look at the disads i ended up taking in order to be able to buy what i did!

  16. I was in between G&T and “average” or middle of the road. Middle track (of three) in math, top track in “civics” so I got to take a political science class from the local community college senior year and loved it (even though the prof was a total lefty which even us 18-year-olds could see). I was really good at languages too. Took a number of AP classes (those were our G&T classes). And then my freshman year of college learned the hard way that I’d been coasting through high school – made academic probation. Whoo-hoo! My brother, who really is smarter than the average bear, spent junior high and high school high and surfing. Got kicked out of three different schools, took his GED. When he ended up enrolled in community college he was astounded to discover he could take classes as he liked. Now he has a PhD from Cambridge.

      1. My parents had an extensive library at home. I worked my way through that and through the fiction section of the public library in my little town. The non-fiction (political and historical) that my dad had was second choice, but when I ran out of library books and it was closed, that’s where I went.

        1. Some of our homeschool stuff is designed for in class use.

          Had to edit one of the “generate data for charting” thing, because it wanted to know how many books were in “your classroom”….

          The chart only had room for like 20 items. I rewrote it “on a shelf” and she went searching for one empty enough to fit on the chart.

          1. Random thought due to “data for charting” the American National Election Studies (electionstudies dot org) and the General Social Survey (gss dot norc dot org) have loads of free, downloadable data sets if you or offspring are interested in looking at numbers of those types. Both have online tools for basic analysis of data.

            1. Thank you.

              ….she hates it, but is getting a lot of good feelz from mom looking at a “stem and leaf” graph and blinking right along with her, then working out how it works with her….

  17. > I just can’t get my hands and feet to coordinate, let alone deal with a basketball

    I have arthritis in my shoulders, starting to move in to my elbows. I decided I needed some kind of exercise to try to keep the joints freed up.

    I bought a speed bag. That’s the teardrop-shaped, head-sized leather thingie Stallone was always banging in “Rocky.” There are some tai chi exercises that looked useful, but given the opportunity to beat the snot out of something while making obnoxious amounts of noise, there was only one real choice…

    The First Rule of Speed Bag is “don’t hit the swivel.” Which is steel, and doesn’t move much. As soon as I get the bag mounted, I expect I’ll nail the swivel first thing…

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