May 24 2015

Still here. Still advocating for gifted kids.

Still Here. Still Advocating for Gifted Kids.So it’s been quite an interesting few days. Lots of online (and offline) conversations about gifted kids and parenting and the media and comediennes and poking fun and what it all really means. It’s a conversation that’s been had before and I’m sure it’ll come up again and again and again. The conversation will continue until it’s understood and accepted that people are born with different wiring and parents could no more push their kids to be gifted than push to change the color of their eyes (though if that were the case, my parents totes failed me because I would have loved to have had violet eyes…or deep green…maybe silver). My hope is that the parents raising gifted kids today will still have the energy to demand change when those gifted kids are raising gifted kids of their own…’cause no one messes with the grandkids, yo.

But a few thoughts before I return to bitching about Chicago’s cold weather (get with the program, it’s not October), or my lack of energy and whyohwhy (no, seriously, I really have been tested for everything), or what’s that smell (it’s always blamed on the dog).

I’m fully aware that the segment featured a comedienne hawking a satirical book on motherhood. I have no problem with this. My beef was, and still is, with the Today Show for bringing gifted children into it at al. There was no need to bring a segment of the population that often has to fight for appropriate academic interventions into a conversation about over-involved parenting. No, not every parent has a gifted child, but I know the kind of parent that is being discussed. For crissakes, I grew up and now live near the North Shore of Chicago…you know all those John Hughes movies? Yeah, there. I am well familiar with the kind of parent the author is poking fun at. But limit it to kale and gummy bears and fashion.

Some people thought I (and those who agreed with me) was over-reacting. I disagree. It was perpetuating the stereotype of a pushy parent convinced that her child is gifted and needs to be in the gifted program, to the detriment of parents who are seriously trying to get academic interventions for their kid. So when a parent of a gifted kid tries to get help, they are only seen as a pushy Tiger Mom. This happened to me and my son. When we first moved to Illinois, he was denied gifted services because of his test scores, despite having been in a gifted program at his previous school and despite a lengthy and detailed report from the Gifted Development Center stating that his needs would best be served in a full-time gifted program. The school saw me as a pushy parent in an affluent district and denied the academic interventions my son needed. I was seen as one of “those” parents, and my son paid the price for the stereotype.

What I found with the discussion online is that parents of gifted kids have mostly been patient, straight-forward, and on topic. Comments back to them have pretty much been the same, with some notable and vile exceptions. I don’t understand why people with no skin in the game feel so passionately about gifted kids. Do they think that they don’t exist or don’t deserve the academic interventions they need? What is so intimidating about a child with wiring different from yours? Why is it so hard to see that maybe they are different than you? Not better, but different? Why does it disturb you that they need different educational options? Again, not better but different. I just keep coming back to willful ignorance. People just don’t want to know, don’t want to open their minds and hearts to something that is different or might change their minds. And that’s disappointing.

So to recap…gifted is. Keep the conversation going, and keep it civil. I’ll keep advocating for gifted kids and their parents, and I hope you join me.

Also?

It’s freezing in Chicago for May. Knock it off already, I’m sick of sweaters and slippers.
I’ve decided my sons are energy vampires and that’s why I’m so tired. Good thing they’re so cute. Also, I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; pretty sure that has something to do with it.
Damned dog farted at me at least three times while writing this post. Had to choose between asphyxiation and hypothermia. Chose to breathe fumes. Gah.

May 21 2015

That time The Today Show mocked gifted kids

That time The Today Show mocked gifted kidsDear Today Show:

Thanks so much for perpetuating the stereotype of gifted kids as hot-housed children hyper-managed by over-competitive suburban helicopter parents. In a brief, throwaway segment during this morning’s interview of Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, you managed to make it even tougher for parents who really are raising gifted kids. I needed more challenge this week; it wasn’t nearly difficult enough homeschooling my twice-exceptional son without society again being fed this line with its morning caffeine. Tasty, tasty stereotypes.

So I’m going to just flat-out ask: Why was mocking gifted children funny?

I really do want to know. Is it because you perceive them to be an easy target? Oh, they have it easy, gifted children will be just fine. Besides, they need to be taken down a peg. Would you have mocked developmentally delayed children on your show? Would you ever dare? Because giftedness is wiring, how they observe and interpret and respond to the world. Giftedness is not pushy parents. These are children as far from the norm as any child on the other side of the bell curve. I can only imagine the deafening uproar if your hosts had mocked delayed children.

Oh, but you weren’t mocking the children, but the parents? You mean, me? You were mocking my challenges? You were poking fun of the difficulties in raising and educating a gifted or twice-exceptional child? Ah, because I’m seen as a pushy, out of control parent, that’s right. I won’t deny those parents exist, because there are a lot of them out there who think their kid’s shit don’t stink, but frankly I tend to see them more in athletics (and music and theater) than in giftedness. A parent raising a truly gifted child isn’t pushing, trust me. I don’t push my kid, because he will push back, and that doesn’t end well for anyone. He is where he is because of who he is. I’m not pushing, he’s pulling, and he has one hell of a grip.

But it’s fun and easy to mock the parents, isn’t it? Because we’re over-invested in our children, living vicariously through them, pushing them to be better than anyone so that we look good. Let me tell you what it’s really like. Might be eye-opening.

I don’t know a single parent of a gifted kid who, in a random conversation with a stranger, brings up that her kids are gifted. Parenting a gifted child is lonely. You don’t dare talk about his accomplishments because you are perceived as bragging. Sometimes you luck out and stumble across the right code words in a conversation and suddenly you find yourself talking to a kindred spirit and you have to do everything in your power to keep from bursting into tears of gratitude when you realize this other person gets it and doesn’t judge you and your struggles. You can find other parents in the same leaky and precarious boat, but they don’t live across the street but in your computer. Lonely. Everyone has a gifted kid? Hardly.

Imagine a child who is several years ahead of his same-aged peers in mathematics, but can’t get words on paper for love or money. Or a kid with an unquenchable curiosity about everything and the memory to match it, but does not test well. Or the child whose ability is sky-high but whose processing speed is the mirror opposite. There is more to gifted than the oft-ridiculed high-achievers-with-pushy-parents; these three examples are gifted. They’re also more likely to be passed over for acceptance into a school’s gifted program, and they’re the ones who need it the most.

Parents of gifted kids have worries that parents of non-gifted kids are unlikely to have. Existential depression, for example, is much higher in the gifted population. Let me tell you, it’s all kinds of awesome to have a preschooler losing his shit over flooding on the other side of the world at 5:30 in the morning. Or a teenager working himself into a lather over GLBTQ equality or the environment or political hypocrisy or the future of the human race at 11:00 at night when I’m walking into walls with exhaustion. We worry about our children finding friends (because when you’re that much of an outlier, they’re hard to find, and let’s not even get into dating), about the asynchrony in their lives tearing them apart, about bullying and over-excitabilities and what the future might hold for a kid who marches to the beat of a drummer few can hear and even fewer can understand.

Still laughing?

These parents, myself included, are working miracles raising and educating gifted kids despite what is thrown at us. We are the butt of jokes, our advocacy is met with derision, we are ignored and ridiculed and told to “suck it up.” I’ve been on the receiving end of administrator condescension, ambushed in school meetings, and essentially been told that my experience and opinion as a parent is invalid. It’s not surprising that mockery is part of it, but it’s certainly undeserved. You mock the hard work of raising children who are unquestionably different. You mock the sacrifices we make, sacrifices like careers and savings and security and normalcy. You mock children who struggle against a society that thinks they are a punchline and the parents who work damned hard to protect them from that while at the same time teaching them that it’s not true.

Mocking gifted kids is cowardly. Mocking their parents is insulting.

And we’re not laughing.

Sincerely,

Jen

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Are all children gifted? No, not really. How is it defined? Many, many ways.

May 20 2015

Guest post: Homeschooling – Two Thumbs Up

Today I bring you a guest post from GHF Author Celi Trépanier. Celi is a former public school teacher turned avid homeschooler and advocate. Her new book, Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling, is now available through Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Press. Today she shares her thoughts about homeschooling, first as a teacher and then after she made the leap into home education.

Homeschooling - Two Thumbs UpVividly, I remember sitting in a graduate education class in college, just to the professor’s right, in the second row, with the early morning sun pouring in through the windows. Part of the lecture for that day was on homeschooling. I don’t remember everything about that lecture because it was so long ago, but etched clearly in my brain is the image of my professor standing behind the podium as she first slowly enunciated the word homeschooling while resting her wrists on the upper portion of the lectern as she formed an “X” by crossing her two index fingers—a clear sign of what she thought of homeschooling.

Yes, I got that message loud and clear. I learned homeschooling was evil, especially to those of us teaching in the public school system. That was the first time I had ever heard of homeschooling and my instructor’s opinion directly forged my own opinion of homeschooling.

The second time I heard about homeschooling was shortly thereafter. A dear college friend of mine, along with her young children, were coming from out of town to spend the day with me and my children. I had not seen her in months and when her oldest son, who was 7 years old at the time, came bounding into my living room, the first question I asked him, a very common question, was, “How’s school?”  He replied immediately and I could hear the polite, but defiant tone in his voice as he answered, “I’m homeschooled!”

I was shocked, stunned. I thought my dear, sweet college friend had lost her mind or that something devastating had happened. I just knew she was making a mistake as I recalled the image of my professor making that X with her crossed index fingers.

Today, my friend’s oldest son is a very successful computer programmer. Her second son is a chemical engineer, and her third child, a daughter, recently graduated from a well-known university in marketing and business. All three were homeschooled their entire school careers. All three had full college scholarships. She is my homeschooling mentor, my role model—my homeschooling inspiration. Homeschooling was not evil and my college instructor with her fingers forming an X was wrong. My opinion of homeschooling was now much more favorable—for others, not ever for my family.

Then I found myself in a situation where I needed to turn to homeschooling for the first time. Life has an ironic sense of humor sometimes. My college friend was the first person I called for help and advice, but it wasn’t a smooth transition from homeschool hater to homeschool lover.

I kept recalling that image of my professor standing at the podium forming the X with her index fingers and I wondered what my fellow teachers would think of me now. I was officially a traitor. Having been a devout public school teacher now embarking on homeschooling, I didn’t go in easily.

About three months into my first homeschooling journey, I was all in. I was hooked. Sold. I was now a devout homeschool believer. That first year of homeschooling was joyous, inspirational, fun, educational, and simply wonderful. The level and depth of homeschooling education and the opportunities for educational experiences not feasible for traditional school students amazed and delighted me and my child.

But, was my child learning? Weren’t we having too much fun to be learning? According to the books, workbooks and tests we were using, my child was most definitely learning and loving learning.

Yes, homeschooling works. Your child will learn. And he will love learning. As a former public school teacher, I would now rate a homeschool education as more experiential and engaging than a public school education. It may not be an educational option for everyone, but it is a superior educational option on par with any public or private school.

Homeschooling—my belief is no longer an index-finger-X, it is a definitive two thumbs up!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Celi Trépanier was born and raised in south Louisiana. She grew up with a strong Cajun French heritage, eventually married a French-Canadian, and has three wonderful sons. She currently resides in central Iowa with her husband and youngest son.

Celi has a vast and varied background in education. She received her B.S. from Loyola University in New Orleans and her M.Ed. from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, then taught in Louisiana, Ontario, and Alabama, in public schools, private schools, and homeschool co-ops.

Celi became a passionate advocate for gifted children after tiring of her family’s painful battles with traditional schools and the misunderstanding and neglect of gifted students. Through adversity came her passion, her strength, and her voice. She advocates for the educational, emotional, and social needs of all gifted children, and her dream is for schools and society to one day understand the truths about giftedness in children. Her writing centers on her advocacy for gifted children and her own journey with her three gifted sons. Her emotional and sometimes pointed posts can be found on her website, Crushing Tall Poppies.

Her book is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.educatingyourgiftedchild-206x300

 

May 18 2015

Attack of the MAN COLD

It’s the End of the World as he knows it.

“I’m going to end up drowning in my own snot.”

One of my sons has a MAN COLD. In order to protect his privacy in this age of everything on the internet is forever (a concept we hammer home weekly), I will try to avoid sharing his name. Also because he’d find this and make my life a living hell because I dared share something about him online. Dude, this blog has existed for over nine years. I guarandamntee there are stories here about you. And your brother. And they WILL be brought up at future weddings. Hopefully not at job interviews.

“It’s going to kill me!”

Not if I get to you first, my good man.

Tom doesn’t get MAN COLDS. He trucks along, suffering in silence until he finally loses his voice and collapses in a heap. There is no complaining, no whining, no whimpering for sympathy. I appreciate this about him. I am generous with illness sympathy if you’re not a sniveling little wuss (yes, I called you a sniveling little wuss my son, because MAN COLD has done that to you). Yes, you don’t feel well. I get it. The whole freaking neighborhood gets it. Please quit snapping at all of us for breathing. And pick up the trail of used tissues while you’re at it; the dog considers those a great delicacy.

Dear future spouse of said MAN COLD afflicted son: I’m sorry. Please don’t blame me. I don’t know where he got this, I think it’s a recessive gene from somewhere way back in the line. He also can’t roll his tongue, so maybe they’re connected. Be warned, when MAN COLD descends upon his little snot-filled head, he tends to fixate on the irrationalities and unfairness of life and society (tonight it’s the 4th Amendment and the role of government vs. privacy). I recommend ibuprofen, Benadryl, a hot shower, and not engaging in debate; for you I recommend wine. He is a wonderful person, but the MAN COLD has taken over. It’s not him you’re talking to, it’s the MAN COLD. MAN COLD is like the Neanderthal of humanity. He’s upright, but it’s all grunting and pointing and shuffling along. When he gets MAN COLD, call me. We’ll go shopping. I’ll buy you wine. It’s all good.

MAN COLD. Save yourselves, ladies.

May 14 2015

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleepDamn, I’m tired. Tired of being tired. Tired of complaining about being tired of being tired. There’s a lot of tired here, is what I’m saying. Can’t even yawn properly, to maybe fend off some of the tired, because a big, satisfying yawn extends my jaw too far and after last week’s root canal (following my flute solo with all that practicing) my TMJ-riddled jaw is just not up for much. Kinda like me. Because tired.

Tonight I have a sleep study to see if the tired has an actual cause, or if I’m just generally screwed. Frankly I think it could go either way. It’s either some sort of restless limb thing going on, twitching my brain enough that it doesn’t properly rest while I’m sleeping, or I have chronic fatigue syndrome and there gotta be hella lot of changes here for me to function. All I know is that more days than not I’m alternating activity with thoughts along the lines of “holy hell I’m so tired I can barely stand it,” and that completing thoughts (or blog posts or book chapters or homeschool planning or flute studio planning or anything requiring me to think through more than two steps) is increasingly difficult. It’s depressing as hell, and for someone trying to pull out of the depression/anxiety vortex, tired is not helping a whole lot. My executive function tank is almost depleted, and as I have two twice-exceptional sons with marginal EF skills to scaffold, it ain’t pretty. Please see also: end of the school year please make the thinking stop.

When I met with the neurologist a few weeks ago, he asked how long I’d been exhausted. Without a trace of humor, my answer was “14 years.” I’ve been some form of tired since Andy was born, but it has gotten worse over the years. I’ve been so focused on meeting my sons’ needs (because their wiring required extra and unusual help) that I’ve neglected mine. And if the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and we can only conclude that my wiring is very much the same as theirs, then I also have extra and unusual needs, and should probably implement some of their accommodations into my own life. I just…don’t want to. Don’t want to be the kind of fragile that requires such changes. You know…human.

Just as I know I’m not alone in parenting these incredible kids, I’m certain I’m not alone in dealing with chronic exhaustion. Regardless of what my eventual diagnosis is, I will need to make some changes so I can enjoy life again. What sorts of self-care ninja skills have you implemented into your life to cope? How have you had to change in order to have something close to the life you envisioned? I have so much I want and need to do with my life, and am bummed that it’s probable many of them may need to be shelved.

That’s enough thinking for now. The demands for MOAR FOOD from the teen and preteen are now an ear-splitting din and I must go hunt and gather so my wee widdle ones don’t starve to death.

But damn, I’m tired.

May 12 2015

I am my own bling

I am my own BLINGI found a self-adhesive plastic rhinestone stuck to my hip this morning as I was toweling off after my shower. I have no idea how it could have gotten there, or even what it’s from. In a home with two tween/teen sons, a notable lack of sparklies, and a personal style of distinctly low-maintenance clothing, I can come to only one conclusion:

I am freaking bling-tastic and am now spawning proof of that from my right hip. If the size of my hips are any indication, there is a metric crapton of bling in there waiting to be released upon the world, so beware and be prepared. I also suspect the impending release of my bling awesomeness may account for my continuing exhaustion; takes a lot of energy to produce quality bling, yo. Yesterday’s deep tissue massage must have simply pushed it to the surface to pop out at its earliest convenience. I expect my unicorn mount and army of minions to appear any moment now.

And with that, a nap is in order. I think I feel an emerald forming near my left buttock and must rest for it to appear.

Apr 24 2015

Let Me Tell You About…Impostor Syndrome

Let Me Tell You About...Impostor Syndrome

If you’ve spent any time in gifted circles, or read about gifted adults, or checked out any websites on self-care in the last few years, chances are better than average that you’ve run across the term Impostor Syndrome. It’s that Lying McLiarpants voice in your head that never, ever shuts up. You know the one…it’s the one whispering that you’re a fraud, that you’re going to be “found out,” that you’re going to fail because you’re nowhere near as good as you appear.

hate this voice. I’ve tried for years to gag it, but as it communicates with me internally it just ignores the gag and keeps on yappin’. Every time I think I’ve got it under control it just laughs at me and yaps louder. Let’s review what it says, shall we?

  • I wrote a book. I am told it is very good (see the Impostor Syndrome yappin’ in that phrase?), and nearly three years later (and how the hell did the time pass that quickly?) it is still selling well. I’m under contract to write a second one on the needs and self-care of parents as they raise gifted and 2e kids. Yet I still think the first book is a fluke, and I’ll be shown up as a fraud with the second because what the hell do I know about self-care? For Chrissake, I’ve barely got my own shit together right now. At this point the book is going to be a list of ways I’ve managed to totally bork up caring for myself.
  • This week I learned I was included in a list of 50 resources for the parents and teachers of gifted kids. Jaw-droppingly floored doesn’t begin to cover it. While I’m honored to be on a resource list that includes others such as Hoagies Gifted and SENG and Gifted Parenting Support and Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, don’t these people realize that I don’t know anything? I’m not an expert. At best I’m the parenting version of the FDA Black Box Warning, complete with skull and crossbones…only my skull and crossbones will be holding a wine glass and the eye sockets will be slightly crossed and there will be a very deep furrow in the brow of the skull in which grapevines are growing for the wine and that’s why the eyes are crossed. If I had mad Photoshop skillz I’d make one up. (Note to self: get younger son with promising mad Photoshop skillz on this…)
  • I’ve taught flute lessons for close to 25 years, off and on. Most of that time I’ve focused on elementary and middle school students. My rationale was that very few teachers focus on that age (which is true), that I love that age when I’m teaching one on one (which I do), and that I can be my true ridiculous self with that age when I teach (and boy howdy I am). And then this fall I started giving lessons one day a week at a high school, and some other, very vocal thoughts came yappin’ out. I’ve avoided teaching high school flutists because I don’t think I’m worthy to teach that level, that I will be found out as a teaching fraud, that I’m only good for repeating fingerings over and over and over again. Advanced students require guidance in musicality and interpretation and who am I to be that guide? Never mind that masters degree in flute performance and 30+ years playing, of course.
  • I’m principal flute of the North Suburban Wind Ensemble, and next weekend I’m soloing with the group. I hear the other flutists in the ensemble and wonder why the hell I’m sitting where I am, and when are they all going to figure out that I suck and shouldn’t be there? It’s just luck and timing that I am where I am (though if you try to take it from me I will fight and fight hard).
  • People have told me for at least the last year that I should be a consultant of some sort, that I know so much about parenting gifted kids and homeschooling, with resources out the wazoo. That’s something I’d love to do, however please see previous bullet point on my very own parenting Black Box Warning. The corollary to this is “Who would ever hire me? I’m only a homeschooling mom who has been out of the official workforce for 15 years, with little experience in the areas of competence/expertise and overqualified for the entry-level positions that would hire me.”
  • I’m an Ambassador for GHF, which is an honor. Why me again? Surely I’m not qualified for that gig.

And these are just the ones that are loudest in my mind. I’m a riot at parties.

How exhausting it is, having this voice yappin’ all the time, and then how crazy it looks written out, like one big HumbleBrag. It’s not. It’s an incessant jab to my self-esteem and it won’t shut up. What’s the point? Do we ever grow out of this soul-numbing one-sided conversation? Nothing good ever comes of it, and it only serves to make life harder. I don’t often admit it, but I’m a good flutist and a pretty good teacher. It’s even harder to admit that I’m a writer, and nearly impossible to add any positive descriptor to that title.

I know I’m not alone in this, not by a long shot. I know many people, mainly women, have this same yap-yap-yap in their heads as well, and it is distracting and annoying and damaging to our very selves. So let me tell you about Impostor Syndrome. It lies. It lies to keep us from believing in ourselves and admitting that we’re good at what we do, that our success comes from hard work and taking advantage of opportunities that come our way. It tries to convince us that the rest of the world is unkind, hoping for our failures and waiting to attack, like vultures on a wire. And we believe that shit, because god forbid we believe something awesome about ourselves.

So here it is. I’m a flutist, and a teacher, and a writer, and a gifted advocate, and a resource to others on this journey. And I’m pretty good at all of those.

Baby steps. It’s a start.

Apr 20 2015

Making time to find time

Thank you to everyone who emailed or commented or left me a message on the Facebook page about my continuing search for why am I so damned tired all of the time? answers. Eventually I’ll find some and can move forward, hopefully with more energy. This has been an ongoing issue for at least seven years and probably longer. I’ve worked with MDs and acupuncturists and holistic chiropractors and massage therapists and I still don’t have a definitive answer as to why I’m so consistently tired. Yes, there are issues with adrenal fatigue and hypothyroid and gluten and stress management, but I swear I could handle any of that if I just got consistently good sleep. Can’t remember the last time I woke in the morning refreshed. I’ve started wearing my FitBit at night again to get an idea of my sleep patterns. Last night, by the clock, I slept nearly 7 hours. According to the wee little device it was closer to under 4 hours of actual sleep, the remainder being long stretches of restlessness. That would explain my jaw popping yawns and the fact I passed out watching a Crash Course episode with Andy this morning. This gotta stop.

At least this weekend I had some much needed downtime. Tom took the boys camping, and I was blissfully alone for 43 1/2 hours. And I did nothing. Not.A.Thing. I was forced out of bed before I wanted only because of the dog (who peed and ate and promptly went back to sleep), but the weekend was mine. I binge watched old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (and I never, ever, ever binge watch TV….I barely even watch TV). I ate when I was hungry and didn’t care if it was healthy or balanced or appropriate. I ate on the couch. I made martinis. I slept in the middle of the bed with all the pillows. I wore yoga pants and no makeup and laughed at supportive undergarments. I did as little nothing as possible while still breathing. No one talked to me. I played Words With Friends and Bejeweled Blitz and endlessly scrolled through Pinterest. By the time they got back home yesterday I was more rested and relaxed than I had been in awhile (so from a score of maybe -11 to perhaps a score of -8…but more relaxed and rested!). I made time for me.

Good thing, too. Because they hadn’t been home more than a couple hours before Andy took a header down the stairs and broke his wrist.

Aaaaand…scene.

Apr 17 2015

Living IRL

I was having a conversation with Andy the other day, discussing what life skills he would need to have to be a productive adult in today’s society. He eventually just sighed sadly and said, “Life is hard.” I managed to convince him that life is complex, and that’s ok, and that he’d be fine.

But life is hard. Damned hard. It’s hard for everyone, and sometimes hard takes over and that’s all you can see.

We’re finally moved in and settled. And, on cue, my body looked around, saw everything was pretty much cared for, and screamed “I’m off duty, bitch!” as it went careening off track. The last several weeks have been one day after another of I don’t give a shit about anything anymore and why am I so tired? and well, that didn’t get done again today and I can’t continue to live like this what the hell is going on?

Several doctor visits and lab tests later and still no real answers. My thyroid and iron levels are lovely (they smiled and winked at the doc), I don’t have Lyme disease, and other blood tests all came back normal. Right now the two contenders are sleep apnea, chronic fatigue syndrome, or both. Imagine my delight, but not surprise, as I’ve collapsed from exhaustion at least twice in recent memory. I won’t be surprised if the answer is both. My first thought in the morning shouldn’t be “I can’t wait to go to bed tonight” after a solid 8 hours of passed out dead to the world sleep and my last thought at night shouldn’t be “oh god please let me wake up rested for a change.” I feel like my days are passed in a knot of just get through this even though you’re exhausted and can barely function. There’s little joy in anything these days and yes, I am back on anti-depressants. They’re helping, but it’s only been a few weeks and the exhaustion isn’t doing much to help manage what I’ve finally acknowledged to be a permanently whacked-out chemical imbalance in my system.

But wait! There’s more! My unconscious habit of sleep-clenching my teeth until they crack has landed me square into root canal land! Jealous? The ibuprofen I was pounding because of the tooth pain (and resultant sinus headaches) ripped hell out of my stomach (as did the antibiotic for the accompanying tooth infection), which did nothing for my worsening depression (there is a gut-brain connection) and continued exhaustion.

But you look so healthy! Invisible is not fictional, folks. I’m bloody miserable. Life is passing me by and I’m too tired to much care. Or rather, I do care but am too exhausted to do anything about it. Because if I go out and seize the day and do something about it I’m on the couch the next day snoring after lunch or walking into walls as I bitch at my family for breathing.

In the next several weeks I have an appointment with a dentist (joy…rapture), a neurologist (for a sleep study), and a gastroenterologist (the stomach pain isn’t just because of ibuprofen and has been going on since last summer, and so help me if he insists I go back on gluten so I can have a proper endoscopy for celiac I may lose it in his office). I can’t accept “it’s just stress” anymore. Yeah, I have a lot of stress, but when you look at it objectively it’s not as much as in the past and I’m managing it a lot better. Something else is making it unnecessarily harder.

This is all a very long-winded way of explaining to the two remaining readers of this blog that 1) I’m not dead, just unable to function right now, 2) word making hard and funny no there now, 3) what energy I have is being spent living in real life (for example, I’m soloing with our wind ensemble in a few weeks, and I’ve been practicing like a fiend in preparation), and 4) if twice-exceptional is gifted plus something in a person’s wiring that interacts and interferes with that giftedness…well, then I might need to start considering how that may be playing out in my own personal wiring, especially given the family history.

But that’s a thought and a post for a different day. Today my energies are being spent towards just living IRL.

Mar 16 2015

Homeschooling in the House of Chaos

homeschooling in the house of chaosWhat does homeschooling look like in the House of Chaos? Oh honey, pull up a chair, pour some wine, and prepare to feel better about yourself. I shall pick a random weekday, let’s say…Tuesday (or rather, a general compilation of a whole bunch of Tuesdays).

6:00 My alarm goes off. Fumble with the iPhone to make the soothing yet bloody annoying musical tinkles stop. Turn on the light, take the first of many thyroid meds. Do not, DO NOT, let my head touch the pillow again. Don’t even let my hair whisper at the pillowcase, because that pillowcase is magically enchanted to devour a solid half hour if any further contact is made. Haul ass out of bed. Pee. Turn on the shower so hot water is possible in a reasonable amount of time. Gather clothes and try to stretch 41 years of inactivity into another day of function. Shower, dress, makeup, dry hair.

6:30 Go poke Bear #2. J has 55 minutes to get up, shower, dress, eat, brush, and get out the door. J has not yet learned that pillowcases are enchanted little demons and has let his head hit the pillow. There is much whimpering and gnashing of teeth and generalized angst…and eventually I shut up and he crawls out of bed and begins, no joke, the longest shower a 10 year old could possibly take. I head to the kitchen to let out the dog, feed and medicate her, get breakfast going, and begin the six hour ritual of pouring Earl Grey tea down my throat until my brain comes online or I float away.

6:55 Knock on the bathroom door. Make hurry up noises.

6:57 Bang on the bathroom door. Make idle threats.

6:59 Throw self repeatedly on bathroom door in attempt to wake the now sodden ten year old who apparently fell asleep in the shower and make heartfelt threats of making him walk to school if he misses the damn bus.

6:59:30 Start pouring cup of tea #2 down throat.

7:05 School-bound child finally arrives in the kitchen, dressed but hair soaking wet. Send him back up to dry his hair so it doesn’t freeze solid and snap off, taking his skull with it.

7:07 School-bound child again arrives in the kitchen and proceeds with Meal Whining, Advanced Level. He is informed that he needs to shut it except to shovel it. Slowest eating on planet commences. I sigh and yet again pack his freaking school bag with lunch, water, snack, and sneakers.

7:13 Suddenly alert and functional school-bound child starts talking and forgets to eat.

7:19 School-bound child sees the clock, panics, has two more bites of breakfast, and begins the last minute dash of brushing his teeth, grabbing his coat, annoying the dog, talking at me. Cup #3 is brewing. Why does it not brew faster, for the love of Earl Grey?

7:26 Out the door for the bus, which picks up in front of the house. Cup #3 is happily making its way into my system.

7:30 My breakfast, clean the kitchen, plan my day.

8:00-12:00 Start beating the to-do list into submission. Write, emails, household minutiae. Lately a whole lotta unpacking and running flights of stairs. My legs hate me, my FitBit thinks it’s been kidnapped. Cup #4.

9:00 Start poking Bear #1. He is not a morning person. At.All. Cup #5 brews while I suck on the tea bag from cup #4.

9:08 Poke.

9:15 Poke.

9:30 Poke.

9:42 POKE.

9:51 POKE POKE POKE! Cup #5 can’t keep up.

10:00 JESUSROLLERBLADINGCHRIST, CHILD, GET UP.

10:06 Poke.

10:15 No, seriously. I’m getting ice water next. Or an airhorn. Kid, I know marching bands. I know a lot of marching bands. Don’t make me hire one. I will, dude. GET UP.

10:22 Soft sounds and general rousing from Bear #1’s room. There is a small sense of hope around my shoulders like an airy scarf.

10:23 Silence. Crap.

10:24 POKEPOKEPOKE.

10:30 Bear #1 stumbles out of his cave bedroom. He is directed to the shower, with stern reminders to remember soap and deodorant this time. Please. Cup #6 brews.

10:50 Bear #1 Mopes into the kitchen with his laptop. While he eats breakfast I go over his lessons for the day with him. He starts watching his history videos (Crash Course videos are the best overview of subjects I’ve found, and Andy – being the visual-spatial learner he is – loves them and is getting the big picture he needs before getting into the detailed nitty-gritty later) and I leave to go do homemaker stuff. Yes, homemaker, because that’s what the IRS thinks of me, and because I don’t really have a career. I am displeased with the homemaker designation, but that’s another rant for another day.

11:00 Andy does some work for his Online G3 literature class. I alternate homemaker stuff (grrrr…) with prepping for flute lessons, writing, answering emails, and general planning for the future. Andy alternates his literature work with chatting with friends, looking up interesting stuff online, math homework, reading, and programming.

12:00 Lunch for me. Andy joins me to talk my ear off about programming or history or why something in the world is the way it is or Minecraft or hey squirrel. I just want to eat in peace and beat my husband at Words With Friends. But that’s the way of homeschooling, and so we sit and discuss whatever comes up.

1:00 I make lunch for Andy. When he eats it is up to him, I’m just not coming back to make it when he’s hungry. Then he continues with his list of lessons and I’m back to makin’ up a home.

2:00 Remind dear son that his online math class starts in a half hour and maybe eating would be a good idea.

2:15 Repeat reminder. I hear vague munching sounds and hope it’s not the dog eating the lunch.

2:17 MOM! I NEED YOUR COMPUTER GET OFF YOUR COMPUTER MY CLASS IS STARTING SOON AND I PROMISED MR. GELSTON I’D <mumbo jumbo I don’t understand> BEFORE WE STARTED! (Someday my beloved MacDreamy2 will be replaced and I’ll be able to keep working while he’s doing his math larnin’.)

2:30 More…stuff…while Andy is online taking his math class. I really need to do another time log for a week; I couldn’t begin to tell you what I’ve been doing. I just know I haven’t been farting around (pinky promise cross my heart I am not kidding) and yet I fall into bed every night wiped out with still 3/4 of my to-do list yet to be done. I’m starting to think my adult-onset, child-induced ADD might actually be real ADD, but that, too, is a post for another day. Squirrel.

2:45 School-bound child returns home. The day is basically over at this point. Time to oversee snack, snack whining, homework, homework whining, sibling whining, whining whining.

3:30 FREEDOM! I’m out the door to teach flute lessons for the afternoon. The boys remain at home to do homework, finish school lessons, and program/tinker/hack.

7:30 Wind band rehearsal. Me time.

10:30 Crash hard. Plan for the next day with a glass of something, anything, as long as it requires an ID to purchase.

 

While this is a “typical” Tuesday, nothing we do is typical. Notice the lack of me actually teaching my own child. Notice the two online classes. Notice the late sleeping, me dashing from the house for my own sanity, the so-relaxed-it’s-wearing-stained-yoga-pants schedule. Some things I like about it, some things I don’t; still figuring out which is which. Things will change up this summer, because summer, and again next fall, because Andy will be a high schooler (OH MY GOD MAH BAYBEEE WILL BE A HIGH SCHOOLER…makes my brain ouchie). So the “schedule” says unschooler, I say more structure than that is needed, and while it’s working, no it isn’t really. We have time to evaluate and fix and change as necessary.

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10518300_10153922939383475_401981961085257622_oToday’s “feel better about yourself now?” post is part of the March Gifted Homeschoolers Forum blog hop, on “A Day in the Life of the Gifted Homeschooler.” Join me in reading about other homeschooler’s ability to keep it together on a daily basis.

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