Peer Review by TwentyOneTimelords (United States)

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By: spectral


    when your parents first sign you up with the tutor, you don't understand. your grades are as they want it and all of your teachers speak praises of your work. why, then? they tell you its for a test. a special test that will get you into a special program. you don't understand, but you go along with it anyways. because they know best.
    your tutor does weird problems with you. folding dots and finding patterns. you still don't understand, but you do it anyways. the only sounds in the air are the scratching of pencil to paper and her constant stern corrections, always biting at the nape of your neck. keep your head empty and your creativity emptier, you folded the dots incorrectly.
    its test day and your parents tell you not to be nervous. 
    you're nervous anyways.
    weeks pass and you get a little letter in the mail from the school and you know what it means. its tempting to open it right now, without your parents. shove it inside your faded little mustard backpack, hide it if you must. but you can't bring yourself to. so you, an ever obedient child, wait until they come home.(waiting, waiting, waiting. will you dread or welcome their car wheels backing onto your brick driveway? and will they praise you for your patience?)
they arrive, and you show them the little, (you convince yourself inconsequential) letter and they open it.
    you don't get in.
    its your fault that you wasted your potential and their money (and you don't hear the praises of your patience, you never will) and try harder next time. you're sent to your room without dinner. you cry. because they aren't watching.
    and so the schoolyear comes, and you aren't gifted. the dictionary says having a great natural ability- gifted. you don't have that. that is what the test said. does that mean you aren't smart? it was a test with math and stuff, after all. you guess that means you don't have a natural ability for those things- you aren't talented, you aren't gifted. 
    when you enter the classroom, you don't expect much. after all, you're part of the group with the ungifted kids. who knows what that could mean. but anything you imagine isn't good.
    but then you get to know them- the ungifted class, (your class) and you think, something must be wrong in this grouping. because they're smart and funny and kind (well, a lot of them are) and quirky and those aren't qualities of a talentless child. but sometimes when you're laughing so hard at one of her jokes, sometimes you're proud to be ungifted. (her name was mei nguyen and she was all of the above- hilarious and brilliant and gentle and ungifted but that word hardly meant anything to you at this point) of course, your parents don't know any of that (you never hid anything from them, what are you doing? but would they understand that you liked them?), and by the end of the schoolyear, when you finally feel at home, they apply for you to get into the gifted program.
    they (the principal? the pta? whoever made the stupid program) looked at you and decided that you were not ungifted. but you were... last year? and what about mei and all the others. if you were... gifted (the word did not feel right on your tongue, would it ever), then they were something else, they deserved gifted too, didn't they? but no, that's not what they said. so you wouldn't ever be in the same class with them again, and you didn't even get to say goodbye.
    you're in the gifted program now and its all new faces, new teachers. still on the same campus, but now an invisible but ever present barrier blocks you from the other side of the lunch tables, from ever saying hello to your old friends, to mei. and they will glance at you once in a while on the other side, and ask with their ungifted (but somehow so perceptive) eyes. but the gifted kids... well, they aren't so bad either are they? they're nice and bright and all the things that the ungifted were but then what was the difference? was there a difference? but your parents tell you not to look back and make new friends and somehow you pretend to forget and when its time to promote from elementary school, where the gifted and ungifted kids split to different junior highs, you manage to smile and hug your gifted friends. 
    you can't look at mei, or the others, but you imagine they're ignoring you too.
    and now you're in middle school and then high school and you're still gifted. because of this they say you can handle more schoolwork and you try and your parents smile because your grades aren't dying but sometimes it feels you are. its been years since you've seen, interacted with the ungifted kids and sometimes you wonder if that is best. humor is changing and so are trends and now its not uncommon for people to joke over their nonexistent sleep schedule and their long lost will to live.
    some days, you miss mei's sense of wit. but on most, you pretend to go along with it. after all, you're gifted, and she is not.

i hate the gifted program and i have experienced being outside of it and in it.
((well actually i hate this current school system but particularly the gifted program))
this isn't my precise experience with it but its pretty similar
thanks for reading my ugly text block if anyone reads this.

Peer Review

This was a very different perspective form my own, but it hit me because I think about this a lot. I also really loved the style of writing and voice--it felt very authentic!

I honestly think there's not much to add in this category. The story makes sense, so no need to add anything, and it was already rich with detail and imagery. The piece feels tense and charged, like when static electricity gathers right before you touch a doorknob and shock yourself. It had me hooked and kept me reading!

Reviewer Comments

This is a great piece!!
I was tested into the gifted program when I was really little, and sometimes I don't even know why I'm in it lol. I hate the fact that "gifted" is the label they use when really, it's just another form of special ed. Being gifted isn't that you're smarter, or know more, or are better in anyway--it just means that you learn differently. There are underachieving "gifted" kids, too, the ones who would rather just drop out of school and who never do their work. "Gifted" is basically a learning disability, but too many people have put it on this pedestal of "oh, my kid's in gifted so they're better," or "I'm in gifted, so I must be better than all those kids who aren't." And then kids who don't test in feel inferior, which of course they're not! It's toxic in so many ways.