Feb 19 2018

A long and winding road

For some reason, I have several friends with newborns right now. I see their posts on Facebook about sleepless nights and my heart goes out to them. I remember those days and nights far too well. Ok, full disclosure…I don’t remember those days and nights very well at all, because sleep deprivation is real and I’m pretty sure those months of barely conscious parenting left giant gaps in my grey matter. But I definitely remember how awful it all was. Begging this mewling creature to please, for the love of all things, go to sleep. Freezing stock still after putting him into his crib, believing that infants were like T. rexes and their sight was motion-based (fact: it is not. Infants track onto parental sleeplessness and terror, so we’re all doomed from the start). Discovering that a stretch of sleep longer than two hours was better than any sex you’d ever had or would ever have again. Sleep, glorious sleep. I feel for them.

But today I have teenagers. And yesterday I took great and perverse glee in practicing my flute in my office, right outside their bedrooms, as they overslept naps from staying up all night at a coding hackathon. The rule in the house is “you can stay up as late as you want at Code Day, just know that you are responsible for your behavior when you get home and we’re not tiptoeing around your sleep-deprived mood.” I cranked the metronome, but refrained from pulling out the piccolo.

It’s been a long and winding road getting to this point, and for a long time I wasn’t sure it would ever happen.

We’re about to start college visits with one kid and the other is registering for high school classes. I haven’t had to hire a babysitter in years. I have the time and mental energy to consider my own life and what I’d like my future to be. They know how to make their own food and do their own laundry and have become fantastic young men I enjoy being around.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s illuminating the past 17 years. What I see by its glow is painful moments interwoven with times of great improvement and promise. I see events that tried our very souls and others that carried them to heights never imagined. I see life through an unexpected briar patch of parenting, and emerging the other side wiser and stronger. There were times…many, many times…that I absolutely hated the situation in which we found ourselves: parenting an intense high-energy child, then advocating for his asynchronous needs, then homeschooling him when nothing else worked. But this gradually brightening light is showing that every step we took, every frightening leap of faith forward, led us to where we are now and will continue to light the way ahead.

The years on this long and winding road can be brutal, but I see an oasis ahead. It’s that light, just over there, and it’s shining brightly.



Today’s post is part of February’s GHF Blog Hop.

Feb 10 2018

Don’t buy green bananas

I have a healthy gallows humor. It’s my main coping mechanism, how I manage what life throws at me. If I can laugh at the frustrating, make the irritating absurd, and find any glimmer of amusement at the frightening, then I win. I have more power over the fear and uncertainty. It doesn’t always work, but it’s gotten me this far; a little trip through the archives here show that. I learned this at me mudder’s knee. She has a gentler gallows humor, but it’s there. Paired with my dad’s quirky outlook, I am the result and lordy what a mix it is. We laugh at faulty memories (where’s my toast?), at stress, at life. Even a silly phrase like green bananas will elicit a chuckle.

Green bananas. As in, granny is so old she doesn’t buy green bananas anymore. You know, because she might shuffle off this mortal coil before they’re ripe. Gallows humor. Never mind that granny probably speed-walked to the store to buy those bananas on the way to volunteer at the old folks’ home.

I’m dealing with several green banana issues right now, of varying levels of importance. I’m only buying Brita filters a couple at a time, because our 30 year old fridge will inevitably conk out as soon as I buy a Costco pack, and our next icebox will have filtered water. I cringe every time I fill up the 14 year old van, because I will be pissed spending $35 or more on gas only to have the transmission go belly up as soon as I leave the station. And…sigh…I gave up the monthly drop of dog food from Amazon and now just get the smallest bag at PetSmart when needed, because Rosie… Well, Rosie isn’t buying any green bananas these days, let’s go with that.

Our sweet girlie is around 14 or so. Not bad for a basset/beagle/corgi mix who was a stray before we adopted her back in Colorado. She’s always been a pillow with a pulse, an ottoman with a sweet attitude, but her get up and go has gotten up and went in the last couple of years. Walks that used to drag us down the street became meandering sniffs became flopping down on the grass and refusing to move. She sleeps most of the day now, always always close to me. She is my constant companion, leaving only when she sees the silver sweary stick emerging from its case. She is so underfoot that it’s a testament to the quality and influence of my guardian angel that I haven’t fallen over her down a flight of stairs to my gory demise. She might be the family dog, but I am her human and she loves me best.

Rosie has been in a steady decline for the last eighteen months or so. Nothing big and disturbing, just aging as an aging dog does. But the decline is less of a gentle slope these days and the vet has recommended that the family sit down and discuss her quality of life. Sooner rather than later. Joints are aching and blood levels are concerning and masses are growing. She’s eating less and hobbling more, though she will hobble with great speed if Tom is carving roast beast at the counter, for she knows who has a tender heart and will “accidentally” drop tasty morsels her way. She’s mostly deaf, going blind, but still requires ear skritches and belly rubs. Rosie is, and always will be, the best dog ever.

Today my heart aches and I’m having a hard time finding any humor in her situation. I take that back. I find it greatly entertaining that yesterday Andy was doing calculations to figure out how large of a diamond we could create with Rosie’s remains. For the record, I’m not hip to a dead dog diamond, but you do you, boo. I was hoping she’d perk up over the weekend, but it looks like I’ll be calling the vet on Monday morning to make plans. We don’t want her to suffer any more than she already is. You can see in her eyes that she’s muscling through as best she can, trying to still be her, but it hurts. I can’t let her hurt.

So I make the gallows humor jokes about green bananas and scritch her ears; belly rubs hurt now, so she refuses those. We’ve all been loving on her more the last few weeks because we’ve known this was coming. Even knowing, I don’t think any of us are ready to say goodbye to her. She’s been with us for nearly ten years and it’s hard to imagine life without her.

Cheers to Rosie, the House of Chaos doggo. We love you, sweet girlie.


Rosie 2008

Rosie 2018



Feb 01 2018

I love sleep. And caffeine. And wine.

Dive deep into your head and conjure up the most hipster coffee shop you possible can. A converted garage, reclaimed wood with metal accents, beans roasted on site, perfectly crafted pour-overs. Straight out of central casting, it’s full of writers and artists poking at computers and sketch books while others chat about upcoming adventures.

It’s my happy place to write, and I couldn’t possibly be any more out of place. A mid-40s married moms of teens, killing time before my son’s Boy Scout Court of Honor this afternoon (one year until Eagle Scout, give me strength). But the place has good vibes and a killer spiced mocha, so I come here for ambiance and inspiration and good caffeine.

Because, dear lord, I run on caffeine these days. Actually, I’ve run on caffeine for the better part of 16+ years, which just so happens to coincide with the blessed arrival of THE CHILD WHO NEVER FREAKING SLEPT. Four years ago (to the day I’m writing this) I wrote about the perverse and delicious glee I took in waking Andy. Sadly, I don’t get to indulge in the pleasure of waking him these days, as he has a wicked loud and intense alarm clock to do my dirty work (<–affiliate link). I do kinda miss it, but not enough to return to making his monkey fling poo. At some point he and Jack need to learn to get their own butts out of bed and moving, and that point was several months ago when school started.

But me? I am not a morning person and I rail against the injustice of the clock. I do try to get to sleep earlier, but with so many activities pushing into the evening it’s tough. You know how an ear worm can keep you awake? Try having several ear worms simultaneously as you come down off a rehearsal buzz, or one that wakes you in the middle of the night and then sings to you for hours. Add in anxiety about nearly everything and the angst that accompanies a burgeoning midlife crisis, and sleep does not always come easy. So I read until I remember that morning will come and wedgie me until I rise. Lather, rinse, repeat, caffeine.

Gifted kids aren’t the only ones with sleep issues. Gifted adults have many of the same issues. Difficulty turning off the brain, existential worries, overexcitabilities. Oh, and back pain. Adults just have a few better coping skills…and wine.

I love sleep. Sleep is my favorite. I have several younger friends having babies right now, and while I’m thrilled for them, I’m even more thrilled that it ain’t me, because I love sleep. I’ll never get a puppy, because I love sleep. I’ll never work an overnight shift of anything, because I love sleep. After screwing up my sleep and my life to the point of earning a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Lifetime Achievement Award, I love sleep. I never again want to find myself in the rut of having a full night’s sleep and waking more tired than when I clicked off the light. It’s painful. Unfortunately I seem to be scooching back to that; I blame winter and stress. Looks like I’ll be instituting Jen’s Plan For Showing Sleep How Much She Loves It. Basically, cut back on caffeine (whimper…) and call it quits earlier in the night. Just more self-care adulting. Except today. Today I require caffeine to function. I’ll start tomorrow. Maybe.

So to the parents with young gifted kids who rarely sleep: they will eventually. I swear. And if they don’t, they will eventually grok that keeping you from blessed slumber is not in their best interest. Then you, too, will have a passionate affair with sleep once again.

And caffeine.

And wine.


Love sleep? Want to learn more about gifted kids and blessed slumber? Check out the other writers participating in February’s Hoagies Gifted Blog Hop.

Jan 22 2018

Goofus and Gallant reimagined

This is the story of two young men. Age peers, but there the similarities diverged, much like the path in the woods. This is the story of Goofus and Gallant.

Gallant was a fine young chap, admired by his peers and adored by adults. He was the best at nearly everything he tried, and actively worked to be so. He seemed to effortlessly balance advanced classes, leadership roles, volunteer work, paid employment, and anything else expected of him. When participating in class, he could advance the discussion with a well-considered idea on the topic. He would have appropriate answers to the teachers’ questions, usually replying in detail. Gallant absorbed information, usually mastered new concepts in a half-dozen or so repetitions, and enjoyed the view from the top of the group. Getting As in class was important to him, and he was generally pleased with his success in school. He had many friends, usually in his grade, and appreciated the complex humor they all enjoyed. Overall, Gallant was the very model of successful young man, and his future was very bright.

Goofus was quite different from his classmate. Teachers tried, but they had a hard time understanding the young man in front of them. He was obviously quite bright, but didn’t seem to work hard enough for all he knew, and if he were so smart, why couldn’t he <fill in the blank>. When he was interested in something, he dove in deeply and completely, but if were a subject in which he had no interest, well…Goofus had no interest in “playing the game.” He drove teachers ’round the bend with profound questions they never saw coming (and usually left them gobsmacked), and class discussions with him could easily go off the rails when he shared his complex and abstract ideas on the topic at hand. His quirky and abstract humor was legendary, both for it’s ability to draw from multiple disciplines and because most of his classmates didn’t get it. He would answer questions with a depth and perception beyond his age, mainly orally; when answers were required in writing he struggled mightily to share his thoughts, almost as if there were a logjam between his mind and the blank page. When learning something new, Goofus only needed a few repetitions to have mastered it, spending the remaining time lost in his head, playing with the information to see what else it could teach him or inventing something entirely new. He had few friends at school, but out in the real world had friends of all ages through his favorite intellectual activities. Goofus wasn’t motivated by grades (though he certainly heard a lot about their importance from his parents), but was far more self-critical about his learning than most of his peers; he knew how much he didn’t know and it bothered him. Overall, Goofus was the focus of a lot of concern, and the adults in his life just hoped he could somehow be successful in his own way.

Goofus and Gallant.

Who is the gifted young man, and who the high-achieving?

Gifted and high-achieving are not one and the same, despite what you might read or hear or see. Yes, they absolutely can overlap, but the Venn diagram of the two is not a complete circle; more like a sliver of a really rich dessert. It’s just so much easier to see high-achieving. I mean, it’s right there! You can’t miss it when you see a student ranked at the top in so many ways. But that’s mainly outer success, a work ethic, self-discipline. Giftedness? My god, so different. I’ve said it so many times I’m sick of myself: gifted is wiring, how an individual observes, interprets, and responds to the outside world. As I wrote in that post I know you didn’t click through to read:

People? What are we doing to our best and brightest? I mourn this young man because he is…he is the child we’re raising now. Every time I read Perlstein’s observation of his friend, “he always seemed too sensitive for this world we happen to live in,” my heart breaks anew for our gifted sons and daughters. They are not gifted because they can do higher level math, or write complex computer code, or read and understand and discuss Chaucer. They are gifted because that is who they are. They are not, I repeat NOT, the product of their talents. Giftedness is not always a gift; too often it is a burden. To carry that burden alone, seeing and tasting and feeling the world a different way, while being lauded only for what you produce, for what you give to the world…

Gifted children and adults are not gifted for what they do, they just are. And it is dangerous and negligent to forget that. To focus solely on talents and eminence reduces a person’s very being down to “what have you done for me (society) lately,” and “you’re only gifted if what you produce is worthwhile (to society).” No. I demand more than this. I demand more than this for my son, for your son, for all of our gifted children struggling in this world. Struggling against poor educational fit, against bullying, against a society that thinks these children are not gifted unless they produce and produce in volume. Gifted is. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Goofus and Gallant.
Gifted and high-achieving.
Hidden in plain sight, at the top for all to see.
Misunderstood, celebrated.

One is not better than the other.


Today’s post is part of January’s GHF blog hop. I encourage you to visit the other writers.

Jan 16 2018

2e Tuesday: What your twice-exceptional teen should probably know before leaving home

Or before you get sick of them and throw them outside to fend for themselves because you hit your limit and you just want to live your own life now thankyouverymuch. But you won’t do that because the neighbors tend to stare if you throw cereal bars out at the children rapidly becoming feral in your yard, and because it’s not legal but hey, details. You do you, boo.

Parents of a certain age start to fantasize about empty nesting. I started dreaming of that day when Andy was two months old, so it’s been a long time a’comin’. Of course, now he’s a pretty cool human with a whacked out sense of humor (no idea where he learned that), but back in the day (aka PLEASE SLEEP FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY) I was miserable from lack of sleep and a child who thrived on being awake and exploring. Then we rolled the dice and had another who is still learning how to be a cool human (middle school, yo, it’s gonna kill me) and fast forward to today….in four years we will have launched two fully formed creatures into the world. It’s hard to type that, as I’ve not only crossed my fingers but am also chanting an ancient mantra to the Mothering Goddess on the planet NOT IN MY HOUSE and it’s a bit of a tongue-twister.

So as I’ve seen this day come closer and closer I find that I’m starting to read more about parenting teens and young adults and the lives we have with and without them. Grown and Flown is a favorite, and as I continue to get my poop in a group I hope to submit writing there. But, like most mainstream parenting publications, our quirky and out-of-the-box lives aren’t easily found there, if ever. I’ve seen lists all over the internet about what your kid should know by <insert age or stage here>, but they rarely take into account the (ahem) unusual situations we now manage with ease. Ok, right, not with ease, but with wine and online friends and a healthy gallows humor.

Allow me to present Laughing at Chaos’s LIST OF THINGS YOUR TWICE-EXCEPTIONAL TEEN SHOULD PROBABLY KNOW BEFORE LEAVING HOME. Enjoy with a grain or two of salt; they’re really good around the rim of a glass with lime and tequila.

  1. The difference between mildly ill, truly ill, and you’re a freaking hypochondriac with access to the internet. We are still working on this one. Daily. Hourly. Please, someone save me. I can’t even disable the internet because both boys know considerably more than I do about the whole damned thing and have something-somethinged the giggidiflibbit so it speeds along at moofflin per duttim, and if I look at it sideways the slibbertin will blurp onto the zeegoozle, and that’ll be the end of society as we know it. But yeah. How to determine the severity of illness, because it’s one thing to care for a sick infant around the clock, it’s another to be woken by a young man who thinks it’s either appendicitis or butthole mange.
  2. The importance of automated finances. Direct deposit, automatic bill paying, round-up to savings/investments, the works. I’m a grown-ass adult whose executive function has taken a hit from parenting and the stress of daily life, and I rely on this so hard. 2e kids tend to have more EF issues, so automate the hell outta life. We’re living in the future, take advantage of it.
  3. How to say no. How to accept no. That no is a complete sentence, and not the first shot in a volley of negotiations. NO is full-stop, end of discussion, knock it off. And if you think that’s a little heavy-handed, let’s talk #metoo and consent and boundaries. No means no. Learning it starts young, it starts with accepting that you don’t always get your way, and it just gets more important from there. With bright kids who always need to know why and how and who and all that, they gotta learn no, too.
  4. How to advocate for themselves without being a dick. Words, body language, courtesy…they all go a long way. Others may have given them a hard time in the past about their requests and needs, but the person in front of them now didn’t. Catch more flies with honey, blah blah blah. It just makes it easier on themselves in the long run, and on others who will need to advocate for themselves in the future.
  5. Why a clean bathroom is a gift to your future self. Don’t think so? Imagine having food poisoning in a bathroom that hasn’t been scrubbed in months. All exits, no waiting. ‘Nuff said.
  6. One meal. Know how to cook just one healthy and balanced meal. Just one. Bonus points if it’s something that can be doubled and frozen for other dinners.
  7. That the second their odometer clicks over to AGE 18 their parents officially can’t do a damned thing for them without permission given in triplicate, notarized with the tears of baby sloths, and filed away with the Ark of the Covenant. So, dear sons, this is why we make you write the emails to the scoutmaster, why we make you talk to your teachers about your sinking grades, and why we make you figure out the problem and how to solve it. We’re here as your teachers and backup, and learning this crap now is waaaayyy easier than learning it when we can’t take over if necessary.

Yeah, that’s a good start there; these are all in addition to the standard know how to do laundrywhy living on a diet of Mountain Dew and Pringles is a bad idea, and remember to call your mother if you wish to live to have anything resembling pocket money. I’m sure I’ll come up with more as we get closer to launch.

So, my parenting comrades-in-arms, what am I missing? I’m sure you have thoughts to share and I’d love to hear them.

Jan 09 2018

A dozen years of words

Time flies when you’re having fun deep in the parenting trenches, wondering if you’ll ever see the light of day, and if the walls of said trenches are greased or just layered in the tears of previous years. Regardless, time flies. The hours are long, the days are short. Sunrise, Sunset. You get the idea.

I hit a milestone this week. Yesterday, in fact. January 8th, 2006 I opened up a new Blogger account and started writing. I had no focus other than to put words down in the community of bloggers I’d been reading for a year. At first, I used the blog as a kind of Facebook, sharing short snippets and amusing quizzes and commenting on others’ blog posts with a post of my own. The writing was…meh. Eventually I moved into more long-form writing, more considered writing, oftentimes screaming into the wind. It was about then that I began to write more on gifted issues. More writing led to better writing led to a book led to freaking out about writing led to another book contract led to hating myself for not writing more led to remembering that writers write, dumbass, sit yo’ ass down led to a lot of personal journaling because when you think you’re losing your mind due to exhausted executive function you don’t necessarily want to share that with the world led to where I am today.

A dozen years of words.

So now what? I am pretty positive my editor and publisher right now are shouting at the screen, “FINISH.THE.DAMNED.BOOK!” and yes, they are quite correct. I will and I am. Self-care and the needs of parents raising these amazing G2e kids is too important a topic for me to remaining sitting on it. Plus I have several other ideas for writing tucked away that I won’t touch until it’s done.

But beyond that? I’m not nearly at the end of parenting, but I’m pretty much at the end of writing about it; the last several posts here had very little to do with raising kids. I no longer share stories of the boys, because privacy is definitely an issue, but also because they’re really not likely to have granola fights in a crib anymore. And trust me, you do not want to hear the penis jokes. I DON’T WANT TO HEAR THE PENIS JOKES, yet here I am.

I’m approaching a crossroads in my life, similar to the one waaaaay back when I was eyeing Jack starting full-day kindergarten. You know, the kid who will be a freshman in high school this fall. Dear god, I really have been writing here forever. But it’s a reality…in 4 1/2 years we will have launched two young men into the world (pleaseohplease and yeah, they could be slow to launch but I have to go with the actual dates for my sanity now hush), and…I will be more me and less (hands-on) mom. What do I do? What do I want to do?

So I’ve been working with my friend-colleague-life coach Kate to poke sticks at my life and try to figure it out. (BTW, she has an online free group coaching call every week and if you’re not jumping on that sucker you are missing out). She is so good at what she does, and with her guidance I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and journaling and number crunching and brainstorming and cursing and I’m starting to see possibilities emerging from the parenting haze. Vague shapes, but they don’t have teeth and they appear to be friendly.

There have been a dozen years of words here, and I hope to add another dozen to the mix. I’m not entirely sure of the focus, much like when I first started, but figure it’ll come to me. At least now I have more experience, though blogging is so, so different now than it was then. I know I want to build a community, to connect, but the details are still deep in that haze, hiding behind those vague shapes.

Thanks for riding along with me these twelve years.



Dec 30 2017

I challenge you to connect

I started picking a Word of the Year back in 2011. I chose strong, which ended up being the perfect word for that personal shitstorm of a year. 2011 was so chaotic, so outrageous, so terrifically bad that it truly became comical. I say that with seven years of perspective; at the time I wasn’t so sure I was going to make it. The year was so out of control that it couldn’t contain the insanity to just twelve months, so it then bled into a good portion of 2012. The word that year was grateful. I was grateful as hell that I’d made it through the previous year in one piece, but I hadn’t yet started my gratitude practice; that was still many months in the future. So while I was grateful in word, I wasn’t so grateful in practice.

2013 brought enough, because I absolutely positively had had enough.
2014 was all about story, because I wanted and needed to write my own story.
2015 I intended to be mindful, and I got a good start on that. Still working on it.
2016 was effort. I wanted to put more effort into what I was doing in and with my life.

Then came time last year to pick a word for 2017 and I just couldn’t. I was emotionally exhausted from the Presidential race and election results, from the online hatred, from twelve months of just crap. I just didn’t have it in me.

Turns out the Word of the Year for most everyone was resist, with the subtext of survive. Good words for an absolutely unbelievable year. Looking back now, if 2016 was a shitshow, then 2017 was the year that stumbled into that shitshow hollering “HOLD MAH BEER!” as it careened into attendees, taking a crap in everyone’s shoe as it puked into their handbags, all while groping and and sneering and mumbling incoherently. 2017 was a bloody nightmare and sweetbabyjesusonapony I am glad it’s over. Two straight years of increasingly intense dystopia in the making is enough.

Several weeks ago I started feeling the familiar pull to choose a word for 2018. I was hesitant, because the dark side of my personality (seriously, I really do have one, it keeps me awake at night and is annoyingly loud at times) whispers in my soul that we’re all on a greased slide to hell and why even bother? But the pull was stronger than those whispers, and a word very quickly made itself known. Previous years had me considering several words until one felt right; this one came and beat me over the head until I agreed to acknowledge it.


As a society and culture, we are more connected than at any time in history, yet at the same time we are more disconnected from each other than ever before. It’s so easy to fall into us vs. them when the nameless and faceless “out there” (vague arm waving) are them.

In choosing connect as my word this year, my goal is to make that my central guiding force for the next twelve months.

Connect with strangers – make eye contact, use their name if known, see them because we all just want to be seen
Connect with my responsibilities – find a way to harness the squirrels in my brain and make them all work together
Connect with my desires – interpret this however you wish
Connect with reality – sticking my head in the sand and ignoring things isn’t going to make them go away
Connect with my readers here – I miss the community and want to grow it
Connect with my husband – after nearly a quarter century together, some reconnection is a good idea
Connect with my sons – in four and a half years they’re going to be launched
Connect with my life – to be the pilot of this stunt plane, and no longer dragged along behind it
Connect with my future – the groundwork starts now because luck = preparation + opportunity

Over the next year, I want to look at every problem, every opportunity, and think, “How can I connect here?” I know I will fail at least as often as I succeed, and knowing that going in is healthy.

And here is where I diverge from my usual encouragement for you to pick a word of the year that works for you. This year is different.

In 2018 I challenge you to connect as well.

Connect with strangers, people you don’t know. People who are different from you. See them.
Connect with your desires, however you interpret that.
Connect with reality, because it’s too easy to numb ourselves and hide while the world shits on us.
Connect with your life, your future, because it’s yours and yours alone.
Connect in whatever way that word resonates with you.


Here’s to a better 2018.


Dec 12 2017

{2e Tuesday} Looking Inward

Twice-exceptional. Gifted plus…something…that masks or challenges the strengths. That something can be anything…a physical disability, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, Autism, anxiety and depression, mental illness…the list can go on and on, and usually does.

When you have a twice-exceptional child, you’re thrown into the deep end of the parenting pool. And because 2e is still relatively unknown, there’s not usually a lifeguard on duty to toss a life preserver your way. If you’re lucky, there’s a team of other 2e parents and advocates, and they fish you out of the water, hand you a towel, and share their snacks. Really experienced and helpful parents also have wine on hand. They know.

After a period of time, you become more and more knowledgeable about twice-exceptionality and help drag out other parents from those deep waters. You get good at recognizing it “out in the wild,” and use the code words to see if a parent needs help before getting chucked in the drink. But every so often, you catch a strange reflection of yourself, just a quick flash. It might be from your child’s “have to fit just right” sunglasses, or from a reflective surface at your kid’s OT office, or from a wrapper of a particular food your kid has to have on hand, just in case.

You know about apples and trees, but refuse to think about your apple and your tree. Your apple may have struggles, but your tree is fine! Never an issue! It’s always been strong and supported and thriving. Let’s concentrate on the apple, the tree will manage. It always has.

But the odd reflections keep popping up, quicker flashes now, until you are forced to sit and look inward, which inevitably happens while you’re driving alone, because that’s the only uninterrupted time you’re guaranteed to have.

  • You remember in elementary school inhaling the entire reading textbook, and then waiting for others to catch up. The thought of not being a “good girl” kept you from acting out in boredom, so you entertained your mind in other ways.
  • You remember in the 5th grade gifted pull-out class, that your class studied law and put on a mock trial. Because there weren’t enough kids for all the roles, you were tasked with two different characters, and when cross-examined, couldn’t get your mind to move fast enough to reply. It literally slammed shut. Wouldn’t be the last time your mind would just freeze. The humiliation from that would stick with you long into adulthood.
  • You remember in 6th grade being dropped from the advanced math class because your mind fractured on fractions.
  • You remember in 8th grade that you were determined to be as good in math as you were in language arts, so you sat and reviewed your notes every single night for months; it barely made a difference.
  • You remember that you were strongly discouraged from taking advanced science in high school because you struggled in math.
  • You remember looking at so many of your high-achieving peers and wondering just how in hell they were managing several AP classes, band, jobs, and a life. You finally decided you just weren’t all that smart.
  • You remember considering your life in high school and thinking, “I’m not that great at school, I’m middling ok at flute, and I really suck at sports…what the hell am I good at? Well, I am good at people, but what do I do with that?”
  • You remember dealing with stress (and what you realize now was probably a hefty dose of anxiety) and struggling to balance everything you wanted and needed to do, from your early teen years on. You remember discovering that a calendar and lists were the only things standing between you and complete failure. That, and dropping many things so you didn’t have so much going on; you could only concentrate so well for so long.
  • You remember precisely one time that you fell asleep completely content, that you had accomplished everything you needed to do that day. It was a Sunday, and you were ready for the week. It was such an unusual feeling (and still is) that you remember it clearly, nearly 30 years later.
  • You remember having your first existential crisis when you were 15, and not knowing what to do (or want to make a fuss), so you just kept on keeping on.
  • You remember watching your (very likely 2e) younger brother and being thankful you didn’t struggle as he did.
  • You remember learning that your (very likely 2e) younger brother took the ACT with extended time, and got a higher score than you did.
  • You remember living in the honors dorm in college, and feeling simultaneously thrilled to be there with other quirky-minded folk, and terrified that they would soon discover that you were dumb as a box of rocks and shouldn’t be there (that cross-examination humiliation from 5th grade still burned). You still feel this way sometimes.
  • You remember meeting the man who would be your husband and thinking, “I love his mind, he is brilliant, I am nowhere near his level.”
  • You remember hiding your gifted light because…well, just because. No reason, you just did. It wasn’t that bright anyway.
  • You wrote this post with earplugs crammed into your ears, because you are that easily distractible, and you wish you’d known of this trick decades ago. It also took you well over a month to actually finish this post.

By all outward appearances I’m pretty organized and reasonably on top of things. On the surface, I am. I manage to keep things motoring along by sheer will and a metric crapton of planning. I am the Queen of Organization, the High Priestess of Productivity. It’s a thin veneer of competence over a roiling cesspool of self-loathing, despair, and panic. Organization I got, it’s the focus and motivation required for follow-through that’s pulling me under.

Last year I started reading Smart But Scattered, one of manymanymany books I start and that end up teetering in a pile by my reading chair. Towards the beginning there are a couple of surveys; one to figure out your kid’s executive function issues, and one to figure out your own. I figured I was in the clear. Me? Have EF issues? Pshaw…never! Right. I discovered that I have piss-poor working memory, and accommodate for that by being very, very organized. Color me surprised.

I’ve long joked that I must have Adult-Onset Child-Induced ADD (my god, I reread that post just now and…sigh), because my antennae have been on high alert since I first became a parent, always attentive to everything around me, unable to shut it off, can’t focus deeply because then bad things happen. I joked, but I’ve also worked so hard to turn that off; the boys are older and I didn’t have to worry that they’d harm themselves if I wasn’t constantly aware of them. I’ve worked with therapists and life coaches and have talked to friends and have researched and journaled and have done all the things. I have the knowledge and the skills, but nothing has helped.

My hard-earned skills and ability to cope are tapped out, and I’m becoming more and more certain that it’s actual ADD pinging around up there in my grey matter.

Several weeks ago one of the women in the self-care class Kate Arms and I taught this fall shared a couple of articles about adult ADD, in reference to a completely unrelated conversation. I shoved them aside for weeks, because I’m overwhelmed and even with all the organization in the world, I didn’t have the bandwidth to read them. (Here’s one, and here’s the other)

I finally got to them, I had that cold sinking feeling of sudden self-awareness, I cried.

The vast majority of adults with an ADHD nervous system are not overtly hyperactive. They are hyperactive internally.

Those with the condition don’t have a shortage of attention. They pay too much attention to everything. Most people with unmedicated ADHD have four or five things going on in their minds at once. The hallmark of the ADHD nervous system is not attention deficit, but inconsistent attention.

Yes, I’m fully aware that also describes a gifted individual with a intellectual and psychomotor over-excitability. And I also know that there’s a family history of ADD, and that women aren’t diagnosed as often as men. And I also know that I was able to manage, up to a point. Parenting a complex kid flipped an internal switch and like a Rube Goldberg machine, my coping skills tumbled over each other to where I am now.

I’m tired of the self-loathing that accompanies seldom reaching my goals, or missing deadlines. I’m tired of never remembering what it is I need to do unless it is dancing naked right in front of me, or have it written down in my always growing to-do list. I’m tired of the always growing to-do list that mocks me with everything I want and need to do, but little time in which to do it. I’m tired of feeling my mind send little tendrils of attention out when I want to concentrate. I’m tired of fighting my own wiring.

Tree, it’s time to recognize that your apple is shiny and robust, but you’re not as fine as you thought. It’s time to scaffold your own self, so you can grow and thrive as well. Even previously strong trees need maintenance.

And so I contemplate the possibility that I am a 2e parent homeschooling a 2e teen. Huh. Didn’t see that coming.

Nov 13 2017

I see you




Hidden in plain sight.


I see you.

I see you in the classroom, rarely living up to your “potential.”
I see you wanting to succeed, but struggling against your own self.
I see you out there in the world, working so hard only to appear average-to-middling.

I believe you.

I believe you exist. Why do you think I have so many unicorns? Unicorns are powerfully magical creatures, but few believe they exist, much like twice-exceptional kids.
I believe you are working as hard as you are able, despite what others may think or say.
I believe you will change the world, because you will have found alternate ways of succeeding, the ways that work best for you, and we will all benefit.

I promise you.

I promise you that I will continue to fight for your right to live outside the box, for that is where you thrive.
I promise you that I will keep writing about your struggles and your successes and your general awesomeness.
I promise you that I will be your advocate, your voice, your friend.

Because I see you.


This post is part of November’s GHF Blog Hop. Please visit the other participants to read their take on the topic of invisible gifted kids.

Nov 06 2017

The 23rd Mile

I am in no way a runner. Not even a little. If you see me running, I recommend you give serious thought to joining me, as I am very likely running from something with fangs or a creature moaning braaaaaaiiiiiinnnnnnsssss. I thought about wanting to be a runner a few years ago and gave that up when my lungs and knees flipped me off, and the overall sense of EVERYTHING HURTS AND I’M DYING took over.

But by god I know marathons; parenting a twice-exceptional kid is a marathon at a sprinter’s pace. It also has the added excitement of jump scares, booby traps, and the very real possibility of a complete nervous breakdown. There’s hardly an opportunity to catch your breath, there aren’t enough water stations, and there are few spectators cheering you on. In fact, most spectators are sneering and shouting about how poorly you’re doing and you should be doing this instead of that and why aren’t you moving faster and how could you possibly be having a hard time, conveniently ignoring the increasing weight of expectations and failed dreams you’re dragging behind you.

You get to a long, flat stretch and think you’ve made it. You have hard-earned skills and confidence and thicker skin from the distance already covered. You can finally breathe a little easier and the remaining spectators are mostly supportive. You’re in a groove and feeling good.

Then parenting turns a corner and you discover you’re only at Mile 23. The finish line, such as it is for parents, is waaaay up there in the distance, hazy and indistinct. The remaining marathon course is uphill, narrow, lined with brambles, pitted with dangerous potholes. Clouds are gathering, and you pray that the storm just holds off for a change, for the love of all things holy and green, my god, please, for a change, please. The weight of expectations you were dragging behind you gets heavier with new hopes for the future, for college, for maybe a little hard-earned normalcy. Spectators return, now in the guise of your own intrusive thoughts and worries, and they’re not only loud but you’re so drained from this race that shutting them up takes more energy than you have.

You can’t go on; you must go on.

Every morning I rise to this uphill and precarious parenting road ahead of me. We have roughly 17 months to get a very twice-exceptional teen ready for whatever comes next (he’s insisting on a 4-year college, I’m wondering how to broach the subject of maybe a gap year) as well as through his Eagle Scout rank. His younger, maybe-2e-maybe-not, brother is three years behind him. It’s been a long and exhausting road to Mile 23, and we have so, so much further to go. While I have gotten much better at self-care, to the point of writing and teaching and presenting on it, it is still exhausting to know that no amount of self-care is going to make this remaining journey any easier. I know I can do it, but still.

We’re at the 23rd Mile, and the only way out is through.


This post of barely contained panic rolled in a confidence burrito is part of the Hoagies Gifted Education Page November blog hop, on ages and stages. I encourage you to go read the other participants’ offerings!

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