Mar 29 2017

It’s just a number

<General sibling bickering. This is the soundtrack of my life these days.>

Andy: “…well, because I…Mom, what is my IQ number?”
Me: “Oh dear son, I know your number and I am not sharing it with you.”
Andy: “Why not? I deserve to know!”
Me: “For this very reason. Your IQ number is just that, a number. It doesn’t matter what your number is, what matters is what you do with it. What matters is how you treat other people. What matters is how you lead your life. Not some number.”

And so it began.

He asked me about his IQ score a few years ago. Yes, I do know it, and no, I don’t plan to share it with him any time soon. I’m thinking adulthood, maybe. I kinda put IQ scores in the same category as the number on the scale when I climb on: it’s good to know, because reasons, but for the love of sanity I do not base my entire reason for living on it. I know how much I weigh, I know it’s a much higher number than I’d like, but it does not define me. Andy’s IQ? I know what it is, I know it would probably surprise people, but it does not define him.

I believe that IQ scores have their place. I think they can help kids and their parents search out the resources they need. I think they can open doors that might otherwise be closed and locked. But I don’t think an IQ score is the be-all end-all holy grail, or something a helicopter parent can “buy” from a sympathetic psychologist (something a school official once told me).

It’s just a number.

That number isn’t going to get my kid into an elite college or earn him the career of his dreams; his hard work will do that. That number won’t get my kid a partner or spouse; his loving and caring heart will do that. And that number won’t earn him the respect of others; only reciprocal respect and honesty can do that.

It’s been awhile since Andy originally asked about his IQ score, and he hasn’t asked again. If I had an IQ number floating around out there, I don’t know if I’d want to know it. Even if I were to somehow get tested now I’m not sure I’d do it. I already feel like I don’t live up to my potential in many ways, I sure as hell don’t need a number mocking me further.

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I started this post a few years ago, and it’s languished in my drafts folder collecting cobwebs ever since. But despite its age and wrinkles, suddenly it’s a little more relevant. This spring Andy will be undergoing his third (yes, THIRD) neuropsychological evaluation. It’s not as though we big puffy heart sending our oldest son for several days of intense testing, or have money that’s tired of the coziness of the bank. No, we’re staring down the barrel of college entrance exams (hold me) and the probable need for accommodations in college (tighter, please hold me tighter). Thankfully we already have a paper trail with his previous evaluations, but nothing recent, hence the new testing.

Homeschooling for the last five years has been a profound blessing, and I don’t use that term lightly. It’s allowed our son to proceed at his pace, and to grow in a way many teens don’t get a chance to do. He’s learning time and project management skills that I didn’t have until college, and has a strong sense of self you don’t often see in teens. But because he’s been “off the beaten path,” there is no official proof of the challenges we’ve been doing our best to manage for the last half decade.

With the new testing comes an updated IQ score, and despite my strong belief that it’s just a number, I’m worried about what that score will be. Actually, not so much the number as the extensive written report from the testing. When you live up close and personal with twice-exceptionality, it’s like living with a funhouse mirror in your bathroom. Everything is magnified and distorted from your point of view, and sometimes you need someone else’s eyes to help you interpret what you’re seeing. There are strengths that have become so common that I no longer recognize them as exceptional; will the testing indicate that these strengths actually exist? There are challenges that are so draining that they seem to overwhelm everything and yet are still our normal; will the testing prove that they are there, and that they do need accommodating?

Will the testing support the 2e diagnosis from 2009, or have we been deluding ourselves for several years?

I know that it doesn’t matter, that my son is one hell of an awesome person regardless of what a report says.

It’s just a number.

Right?

Mar 13 2017

Prettier When Wrapped: What’s So Difficult About Being Gifted?

Here, a gift for you.

Don’t open it just yet.

Admire the wrapping. Isn’t it pretty? Shiny and admirable? See how everyone is envious of your gift? How did it get that way, all perfect corners and crisp folds? No one wrapped it, no one demanded that outer cover that so many admire, it just is.

But isn’t it lovely? Everyone wants a gift like that, wants their child to have a gift like that. Everyone thinks it’s glorious to be the recipient of such a perfectly wrapped gift. Everyone also believes that anyone with such a gift must think they’re better than everyone else, but everyone would be wrong. No one brags about this gift.

Now, go ahead. Open it.

A box. A perfectly normal, perfectly square box, perfectly engraved with the word arodnap. The box feels unusual in your palms, warm and vibrant, as though it were too heavy for its size. It makes you feel slightly uncomfortable, though you cannot explain why. It’s simply a box, after all.

You find the flap, and you open the box.

Inside are layers upon layers upon layers of inner humanity: emotions, sensitivities, thoughts, passions, beliefs, a rage to learn, perfectionism, existential angst, intensities. You cannot see where one layer ends and the next begins; they are separate and yet one. They blend together and dance apart, they pulse with their own heartbeats, they swirl to the music only they create and hear. This inner humanity, carefully packed inside a perfectly normal, perfectly square box burns with an intensity that sears your very soul. You cannot look away, for these are your layers searing your soul and they demand to be let from the box, for that is where they thrive.

This is the difficulty of being gifted. The world sees a gift bestowed upon someone, wrapped in perfection. Shiny, clean paper, perfect corners and crisp folds. A handmade ribbon and bow. Handed over to someone, who is often unfortunately snubbed for simply holding this gift. The world doesn’t recognize (or perhaps doesn’t want to see) what is under that pretty wrapping: layers of intense inner humanity that are difficult to manage, under-appreciated by others, and can sear the owner’s soul without a second thought.

Giftedness is prettier when wrapped, or so the world thinks. But those in the know recognize the swirling music and dance of that inner humanity because it reminds them of their own, and appreciate the true beauty and awesomeness of giftedness.

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Today’s post is part of the March GHF Blog Hop, on The Difficulties of Being Gifted. It’s not all sunshine and roses, and I encourage you to follow the link and go read others’ thoughts on the topic.

 

Mar 12 2017

Silver noisy swear-stick 

I’m a simple pup. I don’t need much. Kibble, belly rubs, a nice poop without anyone watching (AVERT YOUR EYES!!!). I have a pretty good life, which is a good thing for an elderly dog to say. Once upon a time I was a stray, so yeah, I know how good I have it. My family is pretty fantastic, except for one thing.

When Mama pulls out her silver noisy swear-stick and starts making it wail. I don’t know what the hell that thing is, but when she has that thing in her hands my brain implodes and runs out my silky ears. And when she pulls out the tiny black pain-rod, I just want to stick my head up my own ass so I don’t have to hear it anymore.

What is she doing to those poor things? They are so loud and screech so high…my god I can taste every color in the Rainbow Bridge when they cry for help. And it goes on for hours. The torture the silver noisy swear-stick and the tiny black pain-rod endure! I’m suffering an auditory waterboarding, what is it like for them? And Mama doesn’t seem to care. She tortures those things, muttering under her breath and wiping the slobber from her face. Sometimes she even shouts in frustration, as though she were the one suffering. We’re all suffering here, Mama! I see you pull out the black gig bag of death and I don’t even break stride anymore, I just turn right around and go hide with Papa. He makes a nice low woof sound when he talks and that doesn’t hurt my ears. Just because I snurf at his door when you have little ones over with their silver noisy swear-sticks doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with him. I just want to roll over for the little ones; they give great belly rubs and ear scritches.

So Mama? Be nice to your silver noisy swear-stick and tiny black pain-rod. What’d they ever do to you?

Mar 06 2017

Reimagining Chaos

So. I’m back. Miss me?

Has anything happened since the beginning of November? Is the world still spinning? Anything different?

I am. Different, I mean. Kinda. Sorta. More or less. I’m not the same person I was back then. Pfft, I’m not the same person I was at breakfast, because I just finished eating a couple of chocolate dipped macaroons I bought at a bake sale and frankly, my mind is blown and I’m really happy they’re gone because I would have eaten them until I passed out.

But yeah, I have changed. Have I met my goal of finding my truth, finding my voice, finding my funny? Ehhhhhh…yes and no. And that’s ok, life is in the journey not the destination blahblahblah, and I’m gradually making my peace with that. I’m stronger in my truth, more confident in my voice, and tickling my funny in the spot that only I know, until it pees itself from laughing. Get your mind out of the gutter, not there. Or maybe it is, I don’t kiss and tell.

Change is hard, especially when what you do affects others. But if there’s something I’ve learned, it’s that it is much more painful to remain the same when you are straining against your bindings, desperate to grow. Apologizing for that growth is ridiculous and I have enough absurdity in other parts of my life. We’re not the same people our entire lives, not even remotely. That was all over the news recently. Timely.

In short, I have become a midlife woman with just no fucks left to give.

If there are frozen cookie disks in the freezer awaiting the oven, I will eat one as I am baking, salmonella be damned. Washing it down with red wine kills the germs and I’ll be fine, right? I draw the line at eating off the floor; god only knows what was dragged in on the dog’s paws.

Our spring band concert last May had an unusual dress code requirement. Instead of the standard concert black, we were instructed to wear “spring attire.” I wore a strapless Hawaiian dress that could more accurately be described as a delightful purple muumuu…braless. With a light cardigan it was perfect. I have never in my life been so comfortable playing a concert. Just needed to be very careful when standing, because if I caught the hem with my shoe I would have flashed the audience and that concert was long past Mardi Gras, thankyouverymuch.

Gaze upon my garden! I have planted no fucks, for I have none left to give. Please do not share yours, I do not accept unsolicited fucks from others. Plus I’m tired. If I’m growing something, I want to care about it. And there is so much I just don’t care about anymore. The list includes, but is not limited to: fashion, 95% of the crap shared on social media, bad wine, others’ opinions. Others’ feelings will be given a sunny spot in my fucks garden, because I’m not going to intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings; opinions go straight into the compost pile.

Offended by my language here? Hm. Right. Sorry-not-sorry. Probably not going to change at this point in my life. If it’s any consolation I don’t swear as often as you might think in real life, and I have a rock solid filter while teaching. So please just clutch your pearls and move on. It’ll be ok, promise. There are lots of other websites and blogs that have incredible resources for gifted and twice-exceptional issues. Mine has resources plus humor, deeply honest poignancy….and a little fucking language. Consider yourself alerted. Bless.

I’m at the point of my life where I am reimagining the chaos. It’s always going to be there, it’s just shifting and taking different forms. I have no idea what those forms will be, I just know it won’t be the same chaos I’ve laughed at in the past. That chaos used to be potty training, wondering just what the absolute HELL was up with our oldest son, and trying to not lose myself in the stress of unyielding parenting (please go read that post, worth your time). But now? I have two teen sons whose stories are not mine to share…unless I get written permission, signed in triplicate, and notarized with the phlegm of a asthmatic centaur during a lunar eclipse in the last week of the old Aztec calendar. I’m an old married fart whose inner child is a 12 year old boy, and whose inner dude is a frat boy named Chad who is freaking out, wondering what the fuck happened. I’m moving into a new stage of life, one of evaporating storm clouds, of feeling and smelling and tasting the refreshed air after the tempest has passed, but still knowing that another could blow up with little warning.

Laughing at Chaos will always be where wildly different is perfectly normal. No matter your age or stage of life, that describes living as a gifted individual. But it’ll be less on parenting (unless I get that aforementioned approval…where can I rent a centaur?), and more offbeat observations on the world, giftedness, and the chaos that is a woman in midlife. I don’t need permission to write about myself…unless the centaur has other ideas, of course. They can be opinionated little pricks.

It’s time lift a glass to the world with one hand while flipping it off with the other. I’ll bring the wine, you bring the treats.

Cheers.

Nov 10 2016

On hiatus

on-hiatus

Nov 09 2016

The end of the world as we know it

laughingatchaos-comWith the exception of a quick one-off post last week about my beloved Cubs finally winning the World Series (something I had to do, as I’d made over 30 references to them and their losing streak over the last decade), I have been quiet here. I could rattle off several dozen reasons why, but it came down to I’ve been ill, I’ve been busy, I’ve been stressed, and I’ve been struggling with words.

Ill? Yes, I’m still dealing with the dizziness that graced me with its presence on my birthday in September. Starting to sound like migraines with a vestibular component.
Busy? Yes, I gave the keynote presentation at the TECA conference this past weekend, and preparing for that took precedence over everything else.
Stressed? Yes, we had to lower the boom on a certain 2e teenager about his schoolwork, with the kicker being that if he didn’t show notable improvement by December that he was going to the local high school in January. We are seeing improvement, but he still has a month to go.
Struggling with words? Yes. Because reasons.

Regardless of who would have won yesterday’s election, it would have been the end of the world as we know it. With one candidate, it would have been the final punch through a glass ceiling. With the other candidate…

Again, struggling with words. Look, what can I say? So much has been said and written and shouted these last few months, but no one is certain what will happen now. There is no playbook for an election result like this. I have friends and family who are deeply frightened by his election, and with good reason. I am terrified about the future, and quite literally sick to my stomach. I’ve read a few postmortem posts online, but this one about why we grieve today resonated the most with me. I am grieving.

When I first started writing this blog, nearly eleven years ago, I was anonymous and took full advantage of that. I wrote on anything that crossed my mind. Politics (I’m deeply Liberal, in case you missed that), my support of same-sex marriage, frustrations with society and culture (I will admit that Britney Spears’ maturity has surprised me). As I began to write more and more about gifted issues those fell by the wayside. So did my anonymity. And over the last few years what has taken their place is a thick sheen of self-censure. I don’t put myself out there as I used to, for fear of alienating parents who are suffering as they raise their G2e kids. In needing to be helpful and welcoming I stifled my voice. And when you don’t allow your voice to sing, you forget how to use it.

I am taking an indefinite hiatus here. I have several projects I want and need to finish, and I need to get out of the screaming echo chamber that is the world for awhile. I need to find my truth, I need to find my funny, I need to find my voice again. If and when I return it will be with intention and humor and honesty from my soul, with considerably less self-censure.

The world is a vastly different place than it was yesterday morning. I am reeling and I need a break from the world.

Peace out.

Nov 03 2016

There is joy in Mudville

Since starting this blog nearly 11 years ago, I have made no fewer than 34 references to my beloved Chicago Cubs, nearly always referring to the heartbreaking and apparently unbreakable losing streak, and usually mentioning the end of the world or hell freezing over.

That streak is not only broken but shattered. And because it’s the Cubs, and because it’s the most incomprehensible World Series drought in the history of the game, it had to be

Seven games
Come from behind 3-1 in the series
Extra innings
Rain delay
Won on the road
I am exhausted to the point of incoherence. Voice is ragged. At one point I thought I was simultaneously having a heart attack and stroke; I couldn’t feel my lips. My heart is still recovering. A friend posted on Facebook that her Apple Watch thought she was having a heart attack. I have never seen such a game, of any sport, in my life. If it were a book or movie it would have been mocked for being such a cliche. And yet, here we are.

Thank you, Cubs. You brought some very much needed distraction this week, and this win was so, so deserved.

#FlyTheW

Sep 24 2016

Happy #$^%#&$ Birthday

Happy #$^%#&$ BirthdayIn a year’s worth of days, there are usually a few that stand out, no? Ones you’d like to acknowledge and perhaps celebrate. Major holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, come to mind. Days like your anniversary (or Divorceiversary, if that applies). Birthdays of your children and significant other, even if, like me, you’re not much of a party planner and would rather scoop your eyes out with a spork than plan something. And…your own birthday.

My birthday was yesterday and I got to spend part of it in the ER. And, just to shake things up and keep us on our toes, this time it was for me. Because nothing, and I mean nothing, screams hey let’s ring in year 43 with vertigo, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. I have no idea what came out of nowhere and attempted to abduct my will to live, but it came screaming into my life first thing Thursday morning and is still giving me the shifty side-eye today. After a few hours of bad Food Network (seriously, I don’t have cable…when did it become the Guy Fieri channel? I miss Emeril, at least with him I learned to cook something) and a refreshing cocktail of saline, Valium, and Zofran, I was sent on my merry way. It must have done something to improve the situation, because today I’ve miraculously achieved a semi-vertical position, whereas before I’d attempt it and could only manage dizzying myself right into dehydration, which, may I say, is no fun. Also, and it must be said… Pro tip: if you haven’t stumbled your way to the bathroom and made a little tinkle in over eight hours, you’re probably in bad shape. Pro tip part deux: if you did finally manage to stumble your way to the bathroom to make a little tinkle and it had been a whopping 12 hours since the previous visit and you had had a bag of saline in the interim, you were really freaking dehydrated and maybe you need to date Gatorade exclusively for the rest of the weekend. Yellow Gatorade really is the way to go. Red is disturbing if, heaven forbid, it makes a U-Turn and revisits you and Blue…if you’re drinking something blue what the hell. The only reason anyone should be drinking something blue is because they live on Tatooine and are whining about power converters. 

So now I’m on diet of Dramamine and ibuprofen and simple foods like broth and rice; Zofran if I need it and lordy lordy I pray I do not. I was planning on starting the Whole30 after my birthday, I just didn’t expect to start with a big ole’ BANG like this. On the bright side, nothing but broth really sounds good anyway and I’m pretty sure I’ve lost a few pounds since Wednesday night. Um. Yay?

Since I’ve missed my birthday (and I say it’s considered missed if you’re sick enough to sleep through 90% of it, as I did) I have a choice to make. I can just keep saying I’m 42, which is entertaining to me and me only, or I can celebrate my life the next 363 (I’m writing off today as I still can’t move my head without the world going a little loosey-goosey around the edges). Guess I’m going with the latter, because if I go with the former it’ll do nothing but throw the universe outta whack and I’m not up for that level of responsibility. Right now everything is already pretty screwed up, I don’t need to add to it.

So Happy #$^%#&$ Birthday to me. 2016 you’ve continued on your suck streak, do appreciate <sarcasm font>. Time for some broth and water and maybe even some buttered toast, if I’m feeling reckless. 

Cheers to 43, may it only go up from here.

Sep 19 2016

The rise of anti-intellectualism and its effect on our gifted kids

the-rise-of-anti-intellectualismA disturbing trend in society is getting worse. It can be seen most notably in the current political climate, but it also has its talons in medicine, science, and education. I expect to see it dig deeper into other areas, such as the arts, as time goes on. It’s nothing new, has been happening for decades, but it’s reaching a nauseating fever pitch.

It’s the rise of anti-intellectualism. Have you noticed? Discounting or distrusting someone smarter or with more experience in an area, simply because they are other. Ignoring science in favor of erroneous graphics-heavy information on a random website. Skipping over statistics and proof because it’s uncomfortable and instead parroting the rantings of someone who shouts what you’d rather hear instead. Closing ears and minds and hearts.

Others have written about it much more eloquently than I (and for pete’s sake, take the five minutes and read these):

Anti-intellectualism is killing America

Anti-intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America

And this one especially: Anti-intellectualism is Biggest Threat to Modern Society

For whatever screwed up reason, our American culture celebrates and encourages ignorance. I don’t understand it, I’ll never understand it. It makes me crazy and I despise that aspect of our culture. It’s embarrassing and yet it persists.

So what does that mean for our gifted kids?

Well, where should I start? Lack of funding for gifted education programs, for one. How about gifted girls hiding their intelligence? Or maybe the incessant drumbeat of “giftedness isn’t important” blog posts and memes. Our kids pick up the signals that intelligence isn’t valued in today’s society; it’s not hard for them to make the leap to “oh, I’m not valued.” And that, my friends, is wrong on multiple levels and in multiple dimensions.

These kids need intellectual peers, and that kind of peer group is so incredibly hard to find, especially in the same age range. But a group such as that is a safe haven, a place to truly be themselves, away from the anti-intellectualism of outside society. A place where curiosity and questioning and intelligence is celebrated and encouraged. And maybe, a way for them to figure out how to nudge society away from the ignorance edge.

I don’t have answers, I just have a sad resignation that our society and culture is so screwed up, and a long list of sci-fi books to read to pull me out of that funk. The best I can do at this point is help the gifted kids in my life find their peer group and keep it front and center in their lives. They need it and oftentimes they don’t realize just how badly they do.

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14203124_10157486198685002_6096535802774310422_nToday’s post is part of September’s GHF blog hop. Please hop around and read the other participants’ submissions; you may find yourself an intellectual peer group.

Sep 01 2016

Circle the Wagons

Way back in the early days of western expansion, settlers in their covered wagons would draw their homes on wheels into a circle at night to protect their cattle. A wagon circle wasn’t intended to be a mobile fort to battle Native Amercians and bandits  (although it did serve that purpose as well), it was to ensure the safety of the vulnerable. It was a community drawing together for the protection and good of all.

Is it time for the gifted community to circle the wagons?

This week I was reminded once again why finding and being part of a gifted community is so vital to a parent’s well-being. After I and many others wrote rebuttals against yet another “gifted doesn’t matter” post, internet trolls came lumbering out from whatever dank hole in which they live when they aren’t belching out parenting criticism. The newest cry I noticed was that gifted parents were playing the victim card because we were advocating for our gifted children. That we dared speak out. Yes. How dare we. The nerve of us.

Is it time for the gifted community to circle the wagons?

There is such a rise of anti-intellectualism today. If you are intelligent and curious you are something to be feared and disparaged. Accompanying that, if a lie is told often enough and with enough conviction, it’s perceived as true, however wrong and perverted it may be. Think I’m nuts? Look at the current political climate in the United States and tell me I’m wrong. Now look at how society treats the gifted population. G2e people are intelligent and curious, therefore something to be feared and disparaged. Then consider “gifted doesn’t matter” and “every child is gifted.” Tell that lie often enough and loud enough and to a large enough population that isn’t interested in learning about the topic, and it’s perceived as true, however wrong and perverted it may be. 

Is it time for the gifted community to circle the wagons?

Parents raising gifted kids, especially very young ones, tend to be very isolated. They see their kids hitting intellectual milestones light years ahead of their same age peers and have no idea what is going on. Talking to other parents they’re perceived as bragging, which would be amusing if it weren’t so distressing, because those same parents are also probably dealing with an intensely asychronous kid and are exhausted beyond coherent speech. This is even more pronounced in underserved populations and in countries where giftedness isn’t understood and is far from supported. Supportive gifted communities are desperately needed there.

So is it time for the gifted community to circle the wagons? Should we gather up our most vulnerable and ensure their safety, so they can survive and thrive? The frightened and overwhelmed parents, the kids who say they are obviously aliens because they don’t know anyone else whose minds work like theirs, the underserved populations that are overlooked because of language and socioeconomic barriers? Is it time for us to close ranks and and stand shoulder to shoulder against anti-intellectualism and the shouted lies from those who don’t live this experience? Is it time for the gifted community to draw close and protect ourselves and our most vulnerable?

Is it?

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This is part of the September blog hop hosted by Hoagie’s Gifted Education Page. All opinions expressed here are mine alone. Check out other posts on the theme of community at the link above.

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