Apr 20 2016

Sixteen things parents of gifted kids are sick of hearing (and what they’re thinking when they do)

  1. Sixteen things parents of gifted kids are sick of hearing (and what they're thinking when they do)Must be nice to have a gifted kid.
    Heh. Yeah, so nice. It’s just…hysterical giggle…awesome. <twitch> Everything is just so….sob….easy peasy. Please offer me free respite care for a few days and then we will talk again; my brain may be back online by then. 
  2. If he’s so gifted, why can’t s/he <fill in the blank>.
    Allow me to introduce you to my Asynchrony Stick. I shall now beat you about the head and neck with it.
  3. Whoa, is Little Einstein going to college already?
    Dude, that’s insulting, and unless you’re ponying up the cash for tuition it’s none of your business. Besides, he wants to be called Batman these days.
  4. Oh, all kids are gifted, they just open their presents at different times.
    Just.Shut.Up.Before.I.Shove.The.Wrapping.Paper.Down.Your.Talk.Hole.
  5. Pfft…that’s not gifted, that’s ADHD/Asperger’s/Spoiled Child.
    <Blank, despairing look> Your picture is next to the description of Willful Ignoramus, isn’t it?
  6. Quit pushing that child! You’re just a pushy Tiger Mom.
    Pushing. You think I’m pushing. Not so much. I’m duct taped to a cheetah here and I’m just praying I can tuck and roll if he slows.
  7. Schools can handle the needs of a gifted child just fine.
    What color is the sky in the little world you live in? 
  8. What the hell is this twice-exceptional crap? Sounds like a made up diagnosis for excuses.
    This crap, as you so eloquently (sigh…and accurately) described it, is a child who…you know what, you don’t really care and you’re not listening anyway. Bugger off, you’re not worth educating today and I’m tired from dealing with the aforementioned twice-exceptional crap.
  9. Gifted kids don’t need any help, they’ll be just fine on their own. Cream always rises to the top.
    Sure, if the cream is kept in the best possible conditions for rising; stick it into a deep freeze and see how well it rises to the top then. News flash: IT DOESN’T MAKE ICE CREAM.
  10. What has your child achieved? I don’t see any high test scores or eminence. I thought all gifted kids were brainy over-achievers, like the ones on those TV shows.
    And I thought all adults could distinguish between real life and scripted TV. My bad. 
  11. You’re over-reacting.
    Come a little closer and say that. A leetle closer, I can’t reach your throat. That’s good….what were you saying again? Hmm, can’t hear you, I think you’re over-reacting to my hands around your neck.
  12. You don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re not an educator/psychologist/therapist/doctor.
    Nope, I’m a parent, I’m all those things stuffed into one hyper-caffeinated package, and I specialize in THIS child. I know what he needs. No one ever learns as quickly, deeply, and completely as a concerned freaked-out mother, so yeah, I do know what I’m talking about. I have a PhD in THIS kid: Parenting higher Difficulties.
  13. Boy, we really expect great things from <child’s name>.
    Wow, me too. Only I will still know that he has that gifted wiring if he doesn’t accomplish a damned thing in his life, whereas I suspect you’ll think it was a mistake all along. 
  14. So glad my kids are normal.
    Whoa now…back that shit up…really, you think giftedness is abnormal? How interesting. Kindly elaborate. <intense stare>
  15. You didn’t need any help growing up and you turned out just fine.
    Right. Define fine. Just 31 flavors of anxiety-ridden fine right here, swirled with over-excitabilities and a dollop of intensity sauce. Dig in, here’s a shovel, first let me smack you with it.
  16. Oh, it’s can’t be that bad.
    Mmhm…where’s the wine?

Apr 20 2016

Speak your truth!

Speak Your Truth!Speak your truth, they say.

So I will. Because they said so.

 

  1. As the executive function for the entire household, the frontal lobe of the House of Chaos, I am drowning under the mass onslaught of everyday life, dragged under by the tidal wave of four intense lives. There is too much life in my Life. Kindly send a Saint Bernard, complete with brandy around its neck. Or a wine of the month club. I’m not picky. But if you send the Saint Bernard, send someone to clean up after it. I’m done with doing that.
  2. Zucchini is the worst vegetable ever. It and its summer squash bretheren. Don’t tell me it’s glorious browned in butter with parmesan or spiralized as “noodles” or shredded and baked into bread. It is a vile instrument of pain and should be eliminated from the earth, preferably by fire. It shows up far too often in gluten free restaurant meals and is why I often end up just getting a salad or a naked hamburger. The flavor is nauseating, the texture is abominable, and it quite literally makes me ill. No joke, zucchini has the privilege of hitting my system and bloating me up like a dirigible. It’s not even the fun kind of gas, where I could crop dust the boys’ rooms, NO! (Mother of the Year, right here, folks) It’s the evil kind, where minutes after ingestion you are curled over pillows with a heating pad praying for the sweet release of death and cursing a blue streak. The only thing zucchini is good for is a triple word score on Words With Friends.
  3. I’m sure it’s just the end of winter speaking, or maybe the election cycle, but I’m really kind of sick of everyone and everything. I find myself wanting to tell the whole world where to go, how to get there, and what to do with themselves upon arrival. Or telling individuals to eat dog shit and bark at the moon (learned that little line from my dear mum, yes I did). But not you. You’re good. <side eye>
  4. My sons go through enough maple syrup that it would be cheaper to just invest in a maple grove. We got married in a maple grove 20 years ago this summer, maybe that’s why. I’m convinced the reason J loves cheese so much is because I ate pounds of Velveeta queso when I was pregnant with him.
  5. This time of year frustrates me. Not quite warm enough to garden or wear short sleeves, not quite cold enough to put away the winter parkas, it’s a lot of sitting around and waiting for spring to finally arrive and stay.
  6. I hate to shave my legs. They are long, with some considerable real estate there, I’m not the most flexible of 42 year olds, and our shower does not allow a lot of room for maneuvering. Thankfully, this is northern Illinois, where it is cold eight months of the year and frickin’ freezing four of those months; leg hair is insulation. But then it comes time when it’s just warm enough for capris, and you don’t want to scare small children (or encourage small woodland creatures), and so you stare at the Sasquatch that has taken over your lower limbs and you pray you don’t land on your ass under the shower head.
  7. I may not do much right in my life (I don’t exercise, my stress is off the charts most days, I feel like I am failing my adulting final exam, don’t even get me started on how I feel homeschooling is going) but I do one thing so right I feel the need to brag. I wear earplugs every single time I pull out my flute. I know, right?! I’ve worn earplugs since high school; my hearing is stellar. If my hearing were a physical being, it’d be the cover model of Cochlea Monthly. It’s that perfect. Thank you for your adulation. No applause please, just throw money. I also shower every single day and fill the gas tank when it hits 1/4 full; celebrating the little things, here.
  8. I’ve really been struggling with balancing honesty, privacy, and the desire to not scare off any potential employers as I blog lately. But, who am I kidding…potential employers…ha.
  9. Can’t decide if I need a therapist, a life coach, a personal trainer…or all three. Yeah, all of the above. I’m sure you can relate. Please say yes or I will need to refer you to #3.
  10. I’ve been tossing around some great ideas for the future that would allow me to 1) be a self-employed entrepreneur, 2) keep my flute studio, 3) make a difference, and 4) be creative. Once I can harness the addled hamsters that appear to have run off with my attention span I’ll be able to move forward with them. Stay tuned.

There. I’ve spoken my truth…or rather, the truth that I’m willing to share with the whole interwebz. You wouldn’t believe the self-censure involved with writing this post today.

I blame the hamsters…and I always, always blame the zucchini.

Apr 14 2016

Fifteen

So my baby is 15 today.

The boy who made me a mom, who dragged me into the life of giftedness and advocacy and writing, the boy who made Calvin a real life child in my life…is 15.

And, of course, he’s still sleeping.

He’s become an amazing teen. I enjoy him more now than ever. We joke with each other, we can have great conversations, his brain and his personality is exploding. He is more comfortable in his skin now, and when he loses his shit he collects it more quickly. I still worry-panic about him, but it’s less about what is wrong with him (and/or how to “fix it”) and more about if I’m doing enough to prepare him for college and real life.

Technically he’s now old enough to take Driver’s Ed and get a permit and be allowed to get behind the wheel of a very large motorized vehicle and take it on the road while I’m clutching the dashboard and hyperventilating next to him. By mutual agreement, we’ve decided he’s not quite ready. Or, as he put it, “I have a hard time focusing on homework alone in a quiet room, I don’t think I can concentrate on everything needed to drive.” And so we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief, and my auto insurance drops back down from Klaxon Horn Red Alert.

The kid is an epic troll. I left him to work on a writing project on my computer (fewer distractions), and returned to find my desktop photo changed to the slothstronaut. 6aRkCQbU_400x400Mmhm. I got him back with creepy baby photos wishing him a happy birthday. He’ll find them hidden all around the house today…in his coat, in shoes, in the frozen waffles, in the dishwasher… Don’t mess with mom, she plays to win.ANDY BIRTHDAY Life is good.

He’ll only be living with us for a few more years, which is hard to believe. He was a very difficult baby/toddler/preschooler/kid/tween, and so I fantasized about him going off to college at an early age. I don’t regret those fantasies, they got me through many a witching hour, but now that is almost on the horizon. Three years, maybe four or five, and then he’ll be off to put his dent in the universe. Well, more dents, he’s already put a few dings into it. It’ll be wonderful to watch, and I’m privileged to have a front row seat.

Happy birthday, Andy. Go kick ass and take names.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
4/15/16 Edited to add: He was finding those pictures around the house ALL DAY LONG. I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. I out-trolled the teenage troll…and now I wait for the inevitable revengence backlash. Totally worth it.

Apr 04 2016

The mixed metaphors of parenting gifted and twice-exceptional teens

The Mixed Metaphors of parenting G2e teens

 

Parenting teenagers is like nailing jello to a tree.

I’m sure you’ve heard this. I heard it back when my boys were wee young things, when potty training was the issue du jour and I rarely got a moment to myself (wait…that was yesterday…never mind). However, I find it to be inaccurate. You can nail jello to a tree. With enough time, the correct nails, and the proper consistency of gelatinous snack product, I bet I can get that jello not only attached to a tree but be the walls of a treehouse to boot. Not the floor, I’m not that good. It’s tough, but it can be done. A wiggly, jiggly, parenting treehouse. Appropriate.

Parenting gifted or twice-exceptional teenagers? More like managing a large mercury spill. You can do everything right, follow all the instructions by all the experts, stock up on hazmat suits, and it’s still more than likely it will all end badly. It ain’t for the faint of heart, yo. Every day is a new adventure, not one you expected or wanted, and you’re leading the expedition with an outdated map and mercury in your socks…not to mention mixed metaphors. And the treehouse is probably in full-scale nuclear meltdown.

Parenting teenagers is like being pecked to death by a chicken.

Some days I’d rather take my chances with the chicken. I can dropkick that little sucker across the road if need be (and there’s the answer to the age-old riddle). But for the most part, this age is infinitely easier than the infant/toddler/elementary ages. They have the basics of self care down (I don’t have to wipe butts anymore, which I just canNOT emphasize enough how much I appreciate), car seats are a thing of the past, and if they don’t sleep they sure as hell know better than to involve me in their late night insomnia. We have wonderful conversations, their humor is broadening past knock-knock jokes and poop (mostly), and I really really enjoy my sons now in a way I wasn’t sure I was ever going to see. Hearing them sing old Weird Al songs and quote Monty Python sketches may drive me batshit crazy (because it’s non-freaking-stop), but it is so, so awesome.

But DAMN it’s mentally and emotionally taxing. If I were newborn-level sleep deprived on top of it all I’d be a basket case. More. I’d be more of a basket case. I have a metric crapton of baskets over here and I keep weaving more. Maybe I’ll build a Mom Fort from baskets. There’d be plenty of storage for my accompanying baggage.

Parenting teenagers is why animals eat their young

I’m convinced the boys are messing with me. They always had this Goofus and Gallant thing going on, but now they’re swapping roles without warning. A case of good cop/bad cop, kid-style. One kid is rolling his eyes and mouthing off and struttin’ his ‘tude and the other is in the kitchen, calmly unloading the dishwasher without being reminded while having a conversation about his deep thought of the moment. And then, before you know it, switcheroo, a la Freaky Friday.

Parenting G2e teens is like random emoji from your text-happy teen: 🙃💤🦄🌪⚡️🍕💩💩💩💀🚽🙄🙄🙄🖕🏻🖕🏻🖕🏻🖕🏻😡😈😻💩😘💗

You have no clue what’s going on, are grateful they shared, now have a slight headache, and are wondering if the wine glasses are clean or if you could get away with lips directly on the bottle. Box dispenser. Whatever.

We had a small taste of empty-nesterhood a few weeks ago when the boys went camping for several days. It was odd. Quiet. The house stayed clean. We had uninterrupted conversations. I could think without the Mom Radar going off, which was bizarre. I shoveled off my desk and got some long-due stuff done. I could crank up Perry the Parabolic Heater without worrying that Andy had his heater on in his room, thus tripping a circuit and losing power in my office which is why I’m returning to this post an hour later because I’d had it and I was hungry and might as well do laundry while I was downstairs so turn off your damned heater and put on socks because I AM WEARING MULTIPLE LAYERS AND I AM STILL COLD I GET DIBS ON THE CIRCUIT FOR THE HEATER WHY DO I SEE SNOW IN APRIL?!

Ahem. It was nice is what I’m saying. But it was also kinda dull. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s the kind of dull I could use slightly more often, but I was glad to have my boys back. Wish the attitude had been taken out to the mountains and thrown into a bear den to be destroyed by a pissed-off mama bear awakened before she was ready, but it was nice to have them home.

Even if it meant the jello treehouse was full of chickens eating their young, melting down from the mercury spill, and texted to me in 21st century hieroglyphics.

🐔 🐣 🌳 🏡 🌡 ☢ 2️⃣1️⃣ 📜

Mar 09 2016

Living with teenage tech support

Living With Teenage Tech SupportIf you can handle the adolescent smugness and middle-aged feelings of inadequacy, I highly recommend having teenaged live-in tech support.

Andy fixed my website.

It’s all downhill from here, folks. I already don’t know which remotes and buttons and in which order turn on the Roku vs the Apple TV. If my life depended upon correctly setting up and playing a DVD my sons would be orphans. And let’s not even start down the road of computer talk. My eyes glaze more often than Krispy Kreme. Mmmmm…..donuts…..

I may snark and I may see my relevance fading away, but damn I’m proud of that kid. I will be bragging here, it’s my website I’m allowed to do that. This geeky, quirky, out of the box, marches to the beat of his own drumline young man is finally coming into his own. Ten years ago I wasn’t so sure I was going to let him live to see age five. The sensory overloads, the stubbornness, the overexcitabilities, the meltdowns, the incessant movement, the need for less sleep, the unquenchable curiosity, my complete lack of knowledge as to WTF was going on, and the never-ending exhaustion of parenting all that. Hard. So, so hard. Even now I can’t read a lot of what I wrote back then, because the memories and emotions come flooding back and I fear I’d drown.

This 2e kid. This amazing 2e kid. The schools didn’t know what to do with him. He fit in no box, couldn’t and wouldn’t “play the game,” driven so strongly by his internal gears that anyone and anything that tried to alter his path earned scars from the friction. My scars have calloused over, making me not heartless but resilient. I know I can handle what is thrown my way, including his superior knowledge and ability, and the insufferable case of teenager that I’m sure is yet to come. Four years into homeschooling and I still worry I’m failing him, until something like this happens.

He is going to do big things. He is going to be a change maker. He is not like any other teenager, not like any other gifted or twice-exceptional homeschooler. He has a mind I will never comprehend but I appreciate and love. He learns in 3D, holistically and completely. He understands computers and programming as though it comes from his very core, but also knows he doesn’t know nearly everything, and wants to feed that core with every bit of knowledge he can absorb.

It is amazing and an honor to watch him mature.

But so help me, his tech smugness…sigh…he’s earned it.

<I have been informed that my memory is less than accurate and that both boys, at separate times, came to my computer, stared over my shoulder, and went “huh, THAT doesn’t look right,” and told me how to fix it. Two t(w)ben tech gurus in the house. OY. Apparently running a Minecraft server in the basement has taught them something applicable to real life. Guess I’m glad I gave in on getting Minecraft.>

Mar 01 2016

Dear Life

Dear Rosie,
I just love when you come to a dead stop in front of me halfway up (or down) the stairs. I know in your sweet little peabrain mind that love means ensuring I keep my razor sharp reflexes as I desperately attempt to avoid going head over heels over your fuzzy little butt and/or not spill a full mug of scalding hot tea. You’re a sweet doggie octogenarian, but one of us isn’t going to survive this stair master routine. Kindly knock it off before I stop rubbing your belly in retaliation.

Dear treadmill,
I realize you’re 12 years old and counting, but this was really a bad time to conk out. We rely on your hamster-wheel abuse; me for attempted weight loss, my beloved husband for lower back pain management. Repairing you nearly equals the cost of replacing you, and that isn’t in the cards right now. So…you’re a bugger and I dislike you even more than usual right now.

Dear MomVan,
Do NOT, I repeat, NOT, get any ideas from the treadmill. I know you’re the same age, but we can walk for exercise; walking for transportation isn’t possible, we’re too far out in the sticks for that. I pinky promise to replace your brakes ASAP; just give me another 18 months/50,000miles. Please. Just…please.

Dear sons,
You say you’ll do anything to earn money to buy yourselves a computer, but strangely enough the “Job Board,” complete with cold hard cash I will pay you, hasn’t been touched in weeks. Being programmers, I assumed you had a better grasp of cause and effect, but just in case, let’s review. You do these jobs around the house without parental nagging…I pay you. BOOM! Needless to say, your father and I are reevaluating the Job Board, as it doesn’t appear to be a strong enough motivator for you to help around the house. Also? We’re reviewing the tech usage around here. See, your father and I do have a grasp of cause and effect, and we totally see the connection between tech and stuff not getting done around here.  Ya done messed up, dudes. Sorry/not sorry.

Dear February,
Adios! Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!

Dear March,
You’re certainly coming in like a lion today, though I do appreciate that you pulled back on the 8-11 inches of snow I expected when I went to bed last night. I will allow you another two weeks of snow and sleet and wind and general misery, and then I want to see my rhubarb popping up, m’kay?

Dear Super Tuesday Primary Voters/Caucusers,
Just…please…I can’t even…

Dear Perry the Parabolic Heater in my office,
I love you. You’re so hot. Let’s go steady.

Dear responsibilities,
I’m kinda over you. Maybe it’s because I have so many of you, or because you just never end, or because I desperately need a vacation somewhere warm, but you’re burning me out a bit. And by a bit I mean a lot. Kindly ease up so I can be and not always do.

Dear Life,
You’re pretty cool and I’m grateful to have you.

Feb 22 2016

{GHF Blog Hop} A love letter to giftedness

{GHF Blog Hop} A Love Letter to GiftednessDear Giftedness,

You’ve been here so long that I can’t remember life without you. We’ve had a tumultuous relationship, haven’t we? I haven’t always appreciated your presence, and god knows I’ve wanted to send you back more than once. But it hasn’t all been challenge and chaos, and it’s time I let you know just what about you I enjoy and respect.

I never expected to be where I am today, and it’s because of you, Giftedness. As I write this I’m sitting at our gifted homeschool co-op, with parent conversations on twice-exceptionality and gluten-free baking and “when is that Shakespeare field trip?” as my soundtrack. I never expected to be homeschooling, and certainly not because of you (and your sidekick 2e). Weren’t gifted kids supposed to excel in school? Weren’t they supposed to be the leaders, the high achievers, the Valedictorians? My life has been enriched because of your presence, Giftedness. I’ve learned more about learning than I ever did as an education student or teacher. I’ve learned that intelligence is not what a person produces, that quirky is not a pathology, and that a bored gifted child is something to prevent, because hooboy…

You’ve forced me to be a better parent, Giftedness, to ignore the “experts” and follow my child’s lead. I’m not saying it was easy, or ever will be, but when I remember to toss out the “shoulds” and work side by side with my boys instead of forcing something upon them we’re all a lot happier. You made me search out answers that worked for us, not just generic parenting advice, because these kids aren’t in any manuals. Like the nurses said over and over in childbirth classes…the babies haven’t read the books and don’t care. Multiply that by infinity and that’s parenting gifted and 2e kids. Parenting by trial and error and prayer, because parenting books just don’t apply.

Giftedness, you’ve made me a writer, something I didn’t see coming. I started this blog as a way to just, I dunno, putz around with words, and as time went on and I griped more and more about your starring role in our lives, suddenly I was a writer. People read what I wrote! I had a book! Something I wanted to be, long before I became a flutist, actually came true. Now I have a second book in the works and a few brain tickles for some fiction. I don’t know how you managed that, but I thank you for it.

Because of you, you unexpected gift I’d often like to return, I’ve found a passion for supporting other parents as we all flail in the dark together trying to find answers and help. We all just want to be recognized and heard and acknowledged, something that doesn’t happen terribly often, because society thinks we’re bragging about you, when in reality we’re just trying to get through the day. And besides, talking about what my kid can do isn’t bragging, it’s just talking about my kid like other parents do…with maybe some code words thrown in so I can find other parents who “get it.” But I can’t help but be grateful for your arrival, for I’ve met so many wonderful people because of you. I’ve found a passion for support and connection with others that I hope to continue.

Life with you has been anything but easy, Giftedness, but I can’t imagine our lives without you. Just as you are the wiring in an individual, you are also the electric connection within my family. If you were missing, we’d be vastly different, and as I like who we are and how we relate to the world (at least now…not so much a few years ago…), I appreciate your crazy chaotic oftentimes difficult role in our lives. I’m not going to send you back, but I’m also not at the point of sending a gushing thank you note either. The last decade has been challenging, painful, entertaining, humbling, frightening, fraught with anxiety, and overflowing with laughter to keep from screaming. It’s not what I expected, it’s not what I wanted, but it’s what has made me and my family into what we are today. You be you, Giftedness, just go easy on us all for awhile.

Love, kisses, and Malbec,

Jen

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12747959_10156598315855002_7041565823761907458_oToday’s post was part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum February Blog Hop, where bloggers near and far discuss the unexpected gifts of giftedness. Please pour your favorite wine and visit the other writers. Unless it’s early in the day, then I suggest your choice of coffee or tea.

Feb 02 2016

What I’ve learned from four years of reluctantly homeschooling a twice-exceptional kid

What I've learned from four years of reluctantly homeschooling a twice-exceptional kidIf it’s February, it’s winter in Chicago, and I’m again suffering from a terminal case of AAS. It’s cold and dark (even when it’s sunny) and you wonder if you’ll ever be able to sit on a toilet seat again without ending up as a knot of icy goosebumps. Middle of the night potty excursions quickly teach you how to morph a scream into a nearly silent exhalation of temperature acknowledgement. Hot tea and layers and space heaters can only do so much. I hate winter.

But if it’s winter, it’s also another anniversary here in the House of Chaos. Last month Andy and I hit four years of homeschooling together. I am the ultimate Reluctant Homeschooler, so I’m still surprised that we’re this far in and that it appears we’ll be going through high school. So, in recognition of the last 48 months of I never wanted to do this I don’t know what the hell I’m doing please don’t make me do this anymore I’m convinced I’m screwing him up OH MY GOD, here’s my list of ten things I’ve learned from four years of reluctantly homeschooling a twice-exceptional kid. Learn from me, my children, it may save you some grief. If not, I recommend Black Box Malbec to ease the pain.

  • Check your expectations at the door. Better yet, don’t even let those suckers up the driveway. Turn off the outside lights, draw the blinds, pretend no one is home. Expectations will mess with your mind more than Donald Trump in a thong doing the splits (you’re welcome for that mental image). Calm your tits, it’s ok. You were already in charge of your kid’s education, now you have more say. Um…all of the say. Just don’t expect anything to look like what you have in your mind’s eye. Just like when your kid was a newborn, he hasn’t read The Books and doesn’t give half a golden shit about them. Educate the child, not your expectations.
  • Develop a support network. It can be in real life, it can be entirely virtual. But you’re gonna go batshit crazy without one. You never think you’ll need someone to talk you off a mental or emotional ledge until you do. Ask me how I know this, I dare you. I have a tight group of friends online and IRL homeschoolers nearby and I need them all. Sometimes you just need to know someone else has been through it and that you’ll be ok. And to remind you that there’s no Netflix in prison.
  • Have your own activities, something just for you, that you can look forward to every week. My husband and I play in a semi-professional wind ensemble. Once a week we get to go hang out with grownups and work our asses off making music. We don’t get to talk to each other (except in the car), but we call it a date. We even do drinks afterward (two fingers of whiskey or a small glass of wine when we get home to drown out the band music earworms and to wind down from being out).
  • I could really use a Patron Saint of Reluctant Homeschoolers. There are Patron Saints of parenthood, teachers, psychiatrists, and students. Why not one for the reluctant homeschoolers of the gifted? The closest I could find were the Patron Saints of Never Failing Hope, or Impossible Causes, or Dysfunctional Families, or Desperate Situations, or Insanity (ironically sharing a saint with Neurological Diseases). I’m sure some would say the Patron Saint of Juvenile Delinquents would qualify, depending on the day. But hey there, Patron Saint of the Wine Trade! You are welcome in my house, fo’ sho’.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly. Me? Strength: Planning out a course of study and scheduling it for my kid. It’s a scaffolding of sorts, which he’ll take over as he gets better at planning. Andy and I are doing a dystopian literature study together (compare and contrast with today’s society, dear child; you’ve discovered too much compare and not enough contrast? Welcome to adulthood…) and I make sure he’s on the computer doing his German study and he never needs prodding to jump into his newest programming language.
    Weakness: Math, which is why I’ve handed that over to Barry Gelston and The Collaboratory Zone. I’ve also farmed out found instructors for chemistry, and Online G3 is taking over US History this term.
  • You’re probably homeschooling a 2e kid because school was like pushing water uphill with a rake. You don’t need to recreate school at home, you’ll just make yourself crazy. School is not education is not learning; they’re all different aspects of the same thing. Focus on learning and your kid will get an education. NOTE TO SELF: REMEMBER THIS TIDBIT.
  • Follow your kid’s lead and trust yourself. You’re not homeschooling that other 2e kid you know, the one who is taking several advanced online classes and has been recognized nationally for his/her accomplishments, you’re homeschooling your 2e kid. Your 2e kid needs you, because you know his/her strengths and weaknesses best. So do the best you can to not compare your kid to others and forge ahead. Comparison is the thief of joy. NOTE TO SELF: YEAH, REMEMBER THIS ONE TOO.
  • Compromise is the name of the game. This is one game no one likes playing but everyone must. I have one kid homeschooling and one kid in middle school. The MS kid wants to homeschool, but I know leaving every day and getting a traditional education is a better fit for him right now. He’s bummed because he thinks he’s missing out on all the fun and games here at home (snort). Occasionally the homeschooling kid has to suck it up and leave the house when he doesn’t want to. Sometimes I have to drink white wine instead of red. We all make compromises.
  • Things will change. What worked wonderfully for awhile will slam into a cement wall and never work again, and what never worked before will finally spark and the kid will be off to the races. It’s ok. Keeps things from getting stale, keeps us from getting old. Or it just keeps the wine industry in business. But change is good, change means growth, change gives me something to blog about.
  • There will be good days and there will be bad days. There will be days you are so grateful to be homeschooling your kid, and there will be days you will spend hours searching online for a school upon which you can dump the child and run like hell. There will be days when you’ll be filled with white-hot rage at the whole thing, that you had to rearrange your entire freaking life to homeschool a kid with such complex needs and it’s not what you planned and how dare the universe do this to you. And then there will be days when you realize just how much your 2e child has changed since homeschooling, that he’s now more mature and less anxious and has incredibly deep thoughts and you’re so floored by the difference you can do nothing but breathe a silent thank you to the universe.

Admittedly it’s not for everyone, but it’s amazing what you find yourself able to do when your child is suffering. I never wanted to homeschool, yet here we are and here we will be for another three and a half years. My kid is happier, more comfortable in his skin, considerably less anxious, and slowly becoming more open to new and different experiences. He gets to set the pace of his learning (with me to help keep a steady tempo) and still have time to deeply explore what is most interesting to him (programming and computer tinkering). Four years ago he was an anxiety-ridden child, beaten down from an educational system that mainly focused on what he was doing wrong and forgetting that there was so much right about him. Today I see a young man becoming the man he is meant to be, marching to the beat of his own unconventional drummer, confident in his abilities and getting better at improving his challenges. I’m no longer sobbing myself to sleep, he’s less likely to lose his shit over little things. I can’t believe it’s been four years; it feels like yesterday and yet a million years ago. Three years and a few months from now we’ll be wrapping up this homeschooling era, and I look forward to seeing just how it turns out.

Jan 15 2016

Reflections on a decade of blogging

Reflections on a decade of bloggingOne week ago I hit a milestone anniversary and, true to course, totally overlooked it because 1) I suck at memorable dates unless I’m married to you or pushed you through the lady bits and 2) please see item number 1.

January 8, 2006, So Why A Blog?:

Really, it comes down to “why not?” Yeah, blogs are trendy right now and mommy bloggers are the hot news item, but I don’t think that’s why I decided to do this. I’m far from trendy and certainly not hot (though my husband would argue that point; love that man!), it just sounded like something I could have fun with. I’ve been reading blogs for close to a year, and have been so inspired by so many bloggers out there. So here I am, spending what little free time I have doing more on the computer, and loving it.

I started blogging ten years plus one week ago. Originally called Never a Dull Moment, I dove into online writing just because. Because it sounded like fun, because I could write out all the little personal essays I’d been composing in my head since I was a child, because I wanted someplace to be ME, because being a mom is invisible and difficult. At first I just slapped up little snippets of writing and online quizzes, much like what you’d find on Facebook these days. Gradually I eased into writing more thoughtfully, getting a little recognition from other bloggers (I’m still proud of the post I wrote about our little library). I wrote about whatever came to mind: politics, bicycle helmets, that time I nearly ran over a cow. Then as I found my voice, I discovered I was writing more and more about giftedness and parenting and the difficulties of gifted parenting. That led to a book, then a contract for a second book, and recognition from the gifted community; apparently people liked what I had to say.

And say I did. Like that time I railed at the Today Show. Or when I shouted that not all gifted parents are bragging about their kids.

I’ve met so, so many people through blogging these last ten years. Most of them I still only know through my computer, but a few I’ve met in real life. Some have greatly influenced my life, changing its trajectory and those of my sons. All of them I call friend, none of them I would have met if I hadn’t taken the leap ten years ago.

But blogging has changed in a decade. It’s nowhere near what it was when I created Never a Dull Moment on Blogger on a cold January night ten years ago. You can’t just write about what’s in your head, you have to have a focus, a niche. You can’t just slap up an amusing post, you have to optimize for SEO and have a pinnable image and cross-promote it. The community is on social media now, very rarely do people comment back and forth on blogs. A lot of the lighthearted fun is gone. The fun is on Facebook, the back and forth conversation is on Twitter, the pictures are on Instagram, and long-form blogging for the love of words is…flailing in the breeze. It saddens me, and it’s been harder and harder to write here over the last few years. I still love to write, I journal every day in Day One, but the glee of writing a blog post and reading comments (if there are any) is greatly diminished, because the community is gone. I love playing with words, with taking an absolutely shittastic situation and crafting the description to make people laugh in empathy. I’m a trained musician, and we get instant feedback at concerts; I got spoiled by the instant feedback blogging allowed. I continue to hope that the pendulum will swing back towards long-form writing and that I’ll be here waiting to grab hold, but in the meantime? It’s hard to write for a medium that provided instant feedback and no longer does; it’s hard enough to be solitary enough to sit down and pour out the words.

I never expected to be where I am today, ten years ago, but I’m grateful for it. In 2006 in never occurred to me that I’d have a book under my belt and another one in the works, with some fiction ideas tickling my brain. It never occurred to me that people would listen to what I had to say about gifted kids and parenting (I still can’t believe they do, talk about Impostor Syndrome). It never occurred to me that I’d still be writing, ten years later, and still enjoying it…when I finally do sit down and do it. There are so many interests in my life, all demanding my attention (especially those tween/teen boys who were so, so young when I started blogging), and unfortunately writing has been shoved to the back of the closet (see: instant gratification…I have to practice my flute or I’ll pee down my leg in rehearsal every week, that takes up valuable writing time).

After ten years, part of me thinks I should hang it up, because if I can’t do it to my high perfectionist standards maybe I should direct my attention elsewhere. Try something different, a new blog, a new focus. Write some short stories, let the guilty stress of not writing here just go. Yet another part of me acknowledges that this blog has been an important part of my life for nearly a quarter of it. Hard to give that up. So I don’t know.

Happy Blogaversary to me and Laughing at Chaos. It’s been a hell of a decade.

Jan 10 2016

My ode to winter

Chicago has finally blown a kiss to the unseasonably warm temperatures of late and we are currently in a bit of a deep freeze. Not nearly like the hellish Polar Vortex of 2014, but still cold enough to piss me off. So sing with me, my friends! Sing to banish winter to anywhere but where I currently am.

It’s my least favorite time of the year

With the freezing wind chills
And the high heating bills
And the shivers I fear
It’s my least favorite time of the year
It’s the worst time of the year for my hair
With the flyaway strands
And the static that lands
On it from the dry air
It’s the worst time of the year for my hair
It’s the col-coldest season of all
With the dry bleeding hands
And the snow covered lands
And the black ice for falls
It’s the col-coldest season of all

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