BeanBean is one of those kids who puts on a show-- he's beautiful, outgoing, and charismatic. I have the impression that even if he wasn't actually "gifted" people would perceive him that way because he's so entirely confident in himself. He's also a boy, which sadly makes a difference in some circles; I have noticed that the ILs expect things of him and offer opportunities to him because he's a boy. They even remember things differently: MIL has said, "Oh, Bean sat up so early!" but the fact of the matter is that BooBah sat unassisted nearly three months earlier than Bean did.
BooBah is less flashy-- ironicly she's more like her father in this respect. She's very quiet and self-contained, and while I wasn't quite certain about her abilities, I wasn't entirely certain about Bean at this age, either.
That makes it easier, too, when it comes to Bella. Thus far she's hit every milestone but *one* looooooong after her siblings; still, I recognize that while BeanBean is clearly extrordinary today at 4.5, I wasn't quite so sure when he was 16 months old (despite his loquacity).
I haven't had to deal with too many people comparing the kids, except for Bella-- I get a lot of "She's SO beautiful!!" from people, whereas BeanBean and BooBah were "smart" or "strong" or "fast." All of my kids are beautiful, but Bella seems to get a lot more of it than the other two, probably because she doesn't talk the way that they do/did.
In our own family, it's just cause for exhaustion. We try to encourage all of them... but it's hard when I can only be in one place at a time.
We also work very hard to keep our minds open about what the kids can/will do, because there's no way of knowing. BeanBean is very good with maps now, and he can read a fair number of words... but BooBah is catching up very quickly, and who knows? Next year she may be a better reader, and she may be more interested in maps and geography than he is.
We don't tell BooBah that she can't play with the maps because "that's her brother's thing;" in fact, we encourage BeanBean and BooBah to share and work together.
Sometimes I worry about Bella-- but most of the time, I remember that she's very small, and that she could turn out to be just as gifted as the other two.
There's really no way of knowing. While it's fair to say that a child who teaches himself to read at two is probably gifted, it's not at all logical to assume the converse-- that a child who *doesn't* teach herself to read at two *isn't* gifted. Kwim?