A few weeks ago, David and I spent a vast amount of money so that I could have my intelligence insulted. It turned out to be worth every penny.
At the suggestion of our pediatrician we took Gabriel to see a pediatric neurologist. This doctor does not accept health insurance, and our pediatrician mentioned that his fee was higher than we would normally pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. When I learned exactly how much higher, I nearly choked. All I can say is thank goodness for flexible medical spending accounts, because I imagine that when I submit the bill to my insurance company, their automated system will laugh mirthlessly as it generates its pro-forma denial of coverage letter.
But what a tax deduction we will receive!
David took a day off from work, and we drove 90 minutes south to spend 3 hours with this doctor. He spent half of this time with Gabriel, administering behavioral, social and cognitive testing, as well as a neurological exam. While Gabriel was with the doctor David and I completed an extensive questionnaire that addressed family medical history, as well as Gabriel's behavioral and social functioning.
This questionnaire confirmed our belief that that our son does not enjoy tormenting small mammals, and has never skinned a live cat.
After 90 minutes, we switched places, and David and I got to speak with the doctor, where we reviewed the results of the questionnaire, and his examination of Gabriel.
We received confirmation of something we already suspected: that Gabriel has an impressively robust IQ; as well as something we did not know: that he has ADHD, and that the two often go hand-in-hand.
And this is when I became conflicted. Not because Gabriel has ADHD, which made sense, and helped account for some of our ongoing concerns. But because this is the point at which this highly esteemed doctor began insulting my intelligence.
Throughout the meeting, he hardly made eye contact with me, preferring instead, to speak directly to David. He noted my history of depression and explained that ADHD is clinically related.
He then looked at David and asked, "Were either of you academically gifted children?"
David answered, “Yes.”
What happened next was my own fault. Instead of simply answering yes, which would have been the correct answer, because I am suspect of the emergence of the cult of my-child-is-a-genius, because I want my children to be humble about their gifts, and I believe that smart can only take you so far, and it is vital that you also work very hard, I felt the need to preface my answer.
And that was my fatal mistake, because at this point, the doctor tuned me out. Had this been a movie, this would have been the point at which the lighting changed dramatically, leaving me in the shadows.
Doctor, looking at David: “Giftedness usually runs in families. Did you score highly on standardized tests?”
Doctor, to David: “And were you in a gifted program?”
Me: “I wa--...”
I began jumping up and down and waving my arms, futilely trying to get a word in edgewise. Eventually, I resigned myself to watching the show.
The camera panned in on David and the doctor, who smiled broadly, and said to my husband, “Tell me more about yourself, and your prodigious intellectual gifts. And when we're done here, do you have time to go out for a beer, so we can further discuss our formidable intelligence?”
By the time we left the office, I was vibrating with a mix of pride and fury. David and I were grinning like idiots and practically high-fiving each other in congratulations for producing such an intelligent child.
On the other, hand, I was sputtering: I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR 50% OF HIS GENES, AND MY GENES ARE SMART TOO! AND BESIDES, IF YOU'RE SO SMART, WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU BE MARRIED TO ME FOR SIXTEEN YEARS, AND BE EVER MORE MADLY, DEEPLY, IN LOVE WITH ME WITH EACH PASSING YEAR IF I WERE AN IDIOT!?
David took my hand and said, "I love it when you're filled with self-righteous anger. Let's go have some lunch, and get you a drink."
So when the doctor's report arrived this week, I was not surprised to read, in the section devoted to family history — I'm paraphrasing here, but only slightly — Gabriel is of gifted intelligence, in the top 1% nationally, because his father is very smart, in strapping good health, and might I say, charming. His mother, however, is a depressed neurotic, and this is the root of Gabriel's attentional problems.
Needless to say, I placed a phone call to the good doctor's office. Seeing as we paid so much money to consult with him, I felt the least he could do was set the record straight.