One of the problems of having children who might be considered "gifted" (a term I am not terribly comfortable with using, but seems to be an accurate description) is the disparity between a child's physical and intellectual growth and their emotional and social development. Termed "asynchrony" it pretty much sums up what I bang my head against all day long. Kids that are really smart, well beyond their physical years, having massive tantrums that are totally appropriate for a much younger child because they did not get to have something "right now".
I am copying this brief quote from the Hoagies' Gifted Education page, because it is just so...my children. I should note, this description fit myself and my husband as well when we were children. Educators and Parents had other, less pleasant words for it: difficult, anti-social, disruptive, non-conformist, Bah! Too many negative words, that I heard all to often. I don't want to put those words on my children, yet they can both be so frustrating to deal with at times, that I fear I may use them anyways.
"The Gifted Child. No individual can be more exhilarating, or more frustrating. The parents and teachers who deal with these wonderful children can often be described in a single word: Exhausted. The gifted child can speak as an adult one minute, comparing the emotional relationships in Les Mis with relationships in her own life, or discussing potential conflicts between evolution and the bible, and in the next minute throw an impressive tantrum because she didn't get what she wanted... right now! She can have you in awe of her theories on accelerated space travel, or pulling your hair out in frustration over her argumentative refusal to do her part in everyday chores. "
I have very few "normal" three or five-year olds to compare them to. I suppose if they were in formal public schooling we would be able to see the differences more clearly. However, these are the two best examples that we have! It is also more frustrating remembering my own childhood and where my parents made choices that were not the most helpful for me in the long run. That is one of the reasons we chose to homeschool - I think they will have a better and stronger learning experience with us. I feel that public school would completely kill their natural curiosity and desire to learn like it has with so many other children.
Yet I don't feel I really need the comparison except when I start feeling depressed or stressed about their behavior or what they are learning (or not). I know they are intelligent people, that they have feelings that can easily be trod upon, and that there is a core of determination that I want to encourage even when it is the same quality that drives me mad because she won't go to the bedroom because her behavior is currently unacceptable to be around other feeling, sentient humans.
It is a frustrating world indeed, and I hope I can help them learn to navigate it a little better than I have.