Jul 20 2015

Hey parents, it’s your week. What do YOU need?

Hey parents, it's your week. What do YOU needIt’s National Parenting Gifted Children Week! The one week a year when we parents of gifted and twice-exceptional kids are honored and respected for the crazy things we do for our offspring. We get parades and accolades, fireworks and gifts, sonnets and brunches overflowing with mimosas and Bloody Marys topped with towers of bacon and artisanal olives and shrimp and more bacon.

Right.

Note two things about NPGCW. One, it’s in the middle of July, and two, it’s “children,” not “students.” I appreciate these, because they emphasize the fact that these kids are gifted year round and not just when school is in session, and that they are first and foremost kids, not students. It focuses on the job of parenting, which is going to happen regardless of the outside world. Imagine this: zombie apocalypse. Education and society as we know it is kaput. No schools to yammer about IEPs and differentiation and acceleration and accommodations (or lack of). We still have gifted kids. Now what? We still have to parent (and educate) these outliers, these amazing kids with their intensities and curiosities and sensitivities. There’s no longer a society focused on eminence and achievement, but we still have these kids with their particular wiring that influences how they observe and interpret and respond to the world.

Parenting these kids doesn’t get enough acknowledgement, not to mention respect. I’ll take my week in the middle of July, thankyouverymuch.

If I could send you a NPGCW care package, I would. Sadly, shipping would be exorbitant and the interwebz hasn’t yet evolved to the point of instant wine transport; I do have my Star Trek hopes for the future. So instead, a question for your week:

Parents, what do YOU need?

Not for your kid, not for education, not for anything other than you. See, while If This is a Gift, Can I Send It Back? was a rollicking good read, my next book is more focused on the needs of parents and the self-care at which we all, for lack of a better word, suck. (Surely I’m not the only parent of a G2e kid who sucks like a Dyson when it comes to taking care of my own needs). Tell me your stories: what do you need, how do you care for you in this whirlwind parenting marathon? If you’ve survived parenting your kids into reasonably functional adults (my god, congrats!), I’d really love to hear from you: how did you do it, how did you stay sane, what are your tips and tricks? I may follow up for more details as I work on book 2.*

I want the world to know that parenting G2e kids is unexpectedly hard and thankless work. I want the world to hear our stories, and how we parented these kids, and how we didn’t lose ourselves in the process. What I wouldn’t give for a real, true, honest TV show/movie/web series/animated series/graphic novel showing what’s it’s really like to parent and educate gifted kids, but every G2e is so vastly different and the nuances are so, so subtle, that I don’t know if it could be done.

It’s time for us to be heard, not as parents bragging about their kids, but as parents. It’s time for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional kids to be respected instead of mocked. It’s time we take care of ourselves so we can get to the point of sitting back and laughing hysterically when our kids find themselves raising little intense versions of themselves. It’s just time.

So talk to me, parents. It’s your week. And I’m listening.

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*If you’re not comfortable leaving a comment, please email me at laughingatchaos AT gmail DOT com. I’m also going to be at the SENG conference in Denver later this week, if you want to grab me and chat.

Jul 15 2015

{Book review} Gifted, Bullied, Resilient

{Book review} Gifted, Bullied, ResilientOf all the chaos and trauma and drama around parenting a gifted or twice-exceptional kid, the one area we have been so lucky to tiptoe past is bullying. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few minor skirmishes, but when I think about what truly could have been, we dodged a cannonball. That’s not to say it won’t yet crop up, but when Andy was in school it could have been really, really bad and wasn’t. I do think, however, had he stayed in public school much longer that would have changed and we would have had a much worse situation on our hands. When I think of how bad things were when we pulled him out, a much worse situation would have been life-altering, and not in a good way.

Far too many gifted kids are victims of bullying. While the majority of the stories I’ve heard have been kids bullying other kids, the ones that break my heart most are the stories of adults and teachers doing the bullying. And just as most parenting books don’t apply to our kids simply because they’re outliers, a lot of books on bullying apply only marginally. When your kid is extra sensitive or perceptive or empathetic, what do you do? When your kid is an outlier among outliers, there is no one-size-fits-most. This is kinda like my clothes sizing; the only one-size-fits-most that fits me is a scarf. My measurements lean toward the extreme, much like our gifted and twice-exceptional kids and their needs.

The newest Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Press book was released today. Titled Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families, it’s written by my dear friend Pamela Price. I’ve watched Pamela pour her heart and soul into this amazing resource for the last couple of years, and it is well worth the wait. Unlike other books on bullying, this one is specifically for families with gifted and twice-exceptional kids, and because we parents are exhausted and half-brain dead most days, it is blessedly brief (not short, not skimping on information, just not 200 pages of dry text that we would attempt to slog through at 9:30 at night when we finally got the cherubs into bed and we crashed for the evening).

In her clear and precise prose, Pamela lays out exactly what bullying is and what it isn’t. She provides suggestions on how to handle bullying in a traditional school situation, as well as in a homeschool co-op or extra-curricular activity. Throughout the book are short snippets from parents whose kids experienced bullying of various sorts, and other snippets from parents explaining how they worked with their children to deal with and eliminate the bullying. I especially appreciated chapter five, Nurturing Resilience and Healthy Relationships, with its focus on mindfulness and scaffolding and modeling self-care (parents, heal thyselves). If you’re a fan of The King, Pamela even included a conversation with an elderly woman she knew who grew up with Elvis, and until the end of her life remembered the bullying he endured, simply for being different. A tall poppy, too big for his britches, different. Sound familiar?

Gifted, Bullied, Resilient is a game-changer. It is the book for the gifted community that we’ve long needed. I anticipate most people who get this book will highlight and dog-ear many pages to refer back to later. I truly hope (and I know Pamela does too) that it helps parents navigate the tricky and painful land mines that surround bullying and gifted kids. Our kids can easily be defined as MORE, and off the shelf parenting and bullying books just don’t cut it for them. When you’re dealing with over-excitabilities and a raging intellect and a profound sense of justice and a life that is MORE in every sense of the word, you need a resource that starts with those as a baseline. This book is that resource, and I give it my highest recommendation.

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Yes, Pamela is a friend, and yes, I received an advance copy of the book for review. Neither influenced my opinion, and if they did I’m sure Pamela would call me on it. She’s a tough Texan, that one. Profound sense of justice and all. She must be gifted or something.

Jun 26 2015

A day of joys and sorrows

A day of joys and sorrows“Jen? Sweetie? I’m sorry to wake you, but it’s 9:15. What time is the funeral?”

I start the long, slow process of dragging myself to consciousness, pulling off the sleep mask and yanking out the ear plugs as I mutter through the night guard, “It’s at 12:15. Sorry, forgot to set my alarm.”

“No, it’s ok, just wanted to make sure you didn’t oversleep. I’m sorry.”

I hobble to the bathroom, then stumble down the stairs to the blessed aroma of coffee, clicking on my iPhone as I go. News alert:

SCOTUS RULES IN FAVOR OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE.

It’s been a day of joys and sorrows and I’ve been crying tears of happiness and mourning.

On Monday I learned that a lifelong friend, someone I’ve called friend since kindergarten, passed away over the weekend. It was a surprise, and painful to learn. Today was her funeral.

My thoughts throughout the service, in no particular order: I’m not going make it through this. What the holy hell, this is a funeral, why aren’t there tissues every third seat? Oh good, a random kleenex in the bottom of my purse, good luck small square of paper, there is some serious sadness coming your way. Her brothers…oh my god her brothers…I’m not going to make it through this. Why did I wear mascara? That was not a good idea. I don’t know anyone here. Oh tissue, you’re doing your best, but there’s not a dry space on you is there? Yes, shaky breaths will help. Ok, maybe not. Why aren’t there more people here? The cantor sings beautifully. I don’t understand a lick of Hebrew and that’s probably for the best, because if I knew what they were saying my skirt would probably have to take up where the tissue gave up. I’m not going to make it through this. I’m going to miss her. Did I ever tell her how much she meant to me?

Paradoxically, my Facebook wall is overflowing with joy and relief and love because of the SCOTUS ruling this morning. Tears of a different sort. Friends and family members will now have their marriages recognized around the country. Love won.

Love won.

All day I’ve been falling into tears. Tears of sorrow as I remember my friend and how utterly destroyed her brother was giving her eulogy. Tears of joy as I read post after post of love and happiness, knowing that the marriages of friends and family will finally be recognized throughout the land. Tears of pain hearing the President sing Amazing Grace at the service for Clementa Pinckney. Just tears upon tears. So many emotions.

Tomorrow I start a living eulogy project. There is no reason…none…that I shouldn’t share with my friends what they mean to me while we’re all still alive and kicking.

I want more tears of joy and remembrance and love and unity.

It’s been a day of joys and sorrows and my soul is drained.

Jun 18 2015

Selfish, One Week A Year

Selfish, One Week A YearLater this summer my menfolk are heading to the wilds of northern Wisconsin for a week of Boy Scout camp.

Let us now fall to our knees and bow our heads in reverence, allowing the power and meaning of those words to seep into our souls.

A week alone. In my house.

Blessed be and amen.

It is a day fourteen years in coming, something about which I’ve fantasized since those middle of the night feedings…nay, colicky cranky-pants-ings…when Andy was a newborn, solidified when his brother arrived three years later. A day when my beloved offspring would briefly fly the nest, leaving me at home to love them and miss them and revel in my lack of parental responsibility. That my husband is flying the nest with them is just the hot fudge on top of the delicious I’m alone sundae. Don’t get me wrong; I’d give my arm for the two of us to have a week together sans children, but this is one gift horse whose teeth I refuse to investigate.

What shall I do? Where shall I go? Whatever will become of me?

Thanks, Scarlett.

I will read and write (something I’m sure my editor is relieved to hear). I will eat what I want when I want; there will be sushi. I will have drinks on my patio in the afternoon and coffee there in the morning. I will clean my house ONCE and it will stay that way (at least until they return, muddy and sandy and full of stories). I will binge watch shows I rarely have time to watch. I will beat my to-do list into submission. I will stay in my pajamas all day at least once. I will not utter a single word at least one day, except to call the dog. I will garden and I will scrapbook for the first time in over four years. I will teach my summer flute students. I will walk through the house that I love so much and miss my menfolk. But most of all, I will do all these things for me. I will do them without thought to anyone else, for an entire week. I will revel in the kind of blessed silence that is only present when there is no one around to interrupt you, when you know that it is only temporary. I will think and plan. I will take my brain and love it and hug it and name it George.

I will do whatever I want, whenever I want, for as long as I want, for an entire week.

Selfish much? Only one week a year.

What is your selfish alone in the house fantasy?

Jun 08 2015

And that day is here

And that day is hereOne of the hardest things about blogging about your kids is knowing where to draw the privacy line. At some point their stories become theirs alone, and no longer something I can conscientiously share. We hit that stage maybe a year ago, when I was hearing “Don’t post that picture on Facebook!” and “Don’t share that!” more often than not. My stories of epic granola fights in the crib and middle of the night shopping sprees and decorating gingerbread houses are likely coming to a close. The stories I share will now be mine alone, or subject to offspring approval.

But this one is mine.

At 11:15 this morning I picked J up from school, and like that…I no longer had a child in elementary school. At 11:15 on the eighth of June in the year of our lord 2015, there was a new middle schooler and a high schooler under my roof. There was little rejoicing. Growing up and moving ahead is scary for them, and terrifying for me. College (or something along those lines) in four short years? An entirely empty nest in seven? More than half of this hands-on parenting journey is over? (Ok, maybe there’s a teeny tiny bit of rejoicing). When I started writing this blog they were not quite five and not quite two; I was desperate for answers on parenting, giftedness, and sanity…and started writing to find those. Looking ahead the same number of years we’re into the age when I was already married and in grad school. The mind boggles. I don’t know if I’m ready for this stage of life. Dating and driving and college-prep (or something along those lines) and discussions about retirement that are less “eventually” and more “sooner than I care to admit.” I’m no longer a young mom; I’m an experienced mom with kids old enough to babysit. Andy is five years from the age at which I met Tom. I realized that a few weeks ago and nearly hyperventilated myself into oblivion.

How to tell my stories without inadvertently sharing those of my sons? How do I share the challenge of parenting gifted and twice-exceptional kids…nay, young adults…without letting slip their struggles? It’s not as though I’m sharing lighthearted tidbits like piano recitals and track meets; writing about the struggles in scaffolding your child’s executive function weaknesses is a little more invasive to their privacy. I deeply believe that “if you decide to confide in others, you’ll discover you’re not alone,” but when that butts up against your child and his privacy and his future…it’s so much harder. When I started writing here I was anonymous, and I often miss that, despite the benefits of having my name connected to this site. But what’s done is done and I move forward.

My stories are mine, and I’ll continue to share them as best I can without interfering with their privacy and their futures. It kills me that I can’t share some of the stories and jokes and phrases that come out of the mouths of this crew, because they are blog gold. I can see how they might be embarrassing; when you’re laughing about puberty with your parents it’s probably best to know your mom isn’t going to share it with god and the whole world, but damn. My boys are funny and are developing the whacked out senses of humor you might suspect they’d have from having me as a parent.

I knew eventually this day would come, and now that day is here.

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!

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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.

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