Once the balm to any parental worry, “normal” — or, worse, “average” — has become an insult. A feared epithet. “Gifted” is the only acceptable status for a child.
But, if I may be permitted to get nit-picky here, the word itself tells us something. Giftedness is a gift. Not a virtue. It is something to be happy about, just so long as you remember that you didn’t earn it. In the end, you’re judged not on the cards you were dealt but on how you played them.
So it’s okay to be less than gifted. Which is good, because it is the vast majority of the planet.
Take a certain daughter I know, who shall be nameless, who is… well, un-gifted in athletic pursuits. Her parents wince in sympathy every time she tells of playing tag and can never catch anybody. But! Yesterday at recess, she scored two goals in soccer — even though she wasn’t entirely aware of one of them except for the fact that other students were cheering for her. Two goals! Out of a total of four in the game, because they didn’t count the other four goals “where somebody was hurt” (I didn’t have the heart to inquire what that meant).
It made me happy, not because she scored half the goals (because I know that is only likely to happen again in a 0–0 tie), but because she got a turn to wear the mantle of glory that all her fellow student’s have worn before her. She got to feel more accepted. Normal. Average.
And for a young person trying to find a place in this world, that is truly a gift.