Aug 31 2015

I walk the line

I walk the lineAnd so the school year began.

The boys are now back to whatever passes for school for them. J is into his first full week of middle school, and Andy has started the first of his online classes. I’m having only a slight bit of difficulty reconciling myself to the fact that I am the parent of a sixth grader and high school freshman. Slight, of course, meaning all the difficulty in the world; I still think they’re my wee widdle babies who had a granola fight in J’s crib. That was last week, right? No? Nine years ago? Well. Shit.

This is the first year when it has really hit that I’m walking a fine line between the traditional education world and the homeschool education world. I am firmly in both camps, and yet not so. When people ask why I’m homeschooling one and not the other, my very truthful answer is that we have put our boys into the best educational structure for them at this time. If it changes, fine, we have experience with both and we can adapt. But for now, this is the plan, such as it is.

Last week J had his middle school kickoff. He got to bring in his school supplies, find his locker, walk his schedule and meet the teachers, have his school photo taken (which, doing this before the school year starts, is brilliant), and have a spot of ice cream. Kids and parents were everywhere, there was a feeling of relief (parents) and excited resignation (kids) in the air, and overall it was good to be there. Not ninety minutes later I was at a introductory homeschool meeting at a local library. Mainly parents, a few young kids, I was only one of maybe three who said they were homeschooling high school (please don’t call me brave, it is what it is), and there was more of a sense of Let’s Do This. I was both comfortable and uncomfortable at each of those events.

If I were truly honest, I’d be happy to have both boys in school. It’s exhausting for me to homeschool (mainly the planning and the panic), and while it can be done inexpensively, that isn’t exactly the case here. I’d be able to work full-time (provided I could find something), the boys could be involved in activities I can’t provide, and maybe we could pretend to be normal for awhile. We once lived this and it didn’t go so well (please see If This is a Gift, Can I Send It Back? <affiliate link> for the details of that little segment of life), but I still hold out hope. But if I were truly honest the other way, I’d be happy to have both boys home. To not have homework battles (because those will start a couple hours from now), to be free of worry about Pearson and PARCC testing and what all that intrusive assessment is doing to my kid, to teach my kids to learn at their own pace and as deeply as they’d like….well, it’d be nice. I’d certainly appreciate the slower and calmer mornings, that’s for damned sure.

I feel like I’m at the top of a split-rail fence, arms out for balance, walking heel-toe between two very different educational worlds. Both have their pros and cons, neither one is The One (just The Best At The Time For The Particular Kid), neither one is better nor worse than the other, both are awesome and beautiful in their own right. I teeter to one side or the other as I walk, thinking this is it I’m going to land on this side, but always manage to regain my balance and continue heel-toe. It’s going to be this way for the foreseeable future, as I don’t see bringing J home or sending Andy to what is inarguably an enormous high school, though one with a great STEM program. Who knows, something may change this year and finally shove me into one camp or the other, but for now, I’ll just continue to walk the line.

Heel-toe, heel-toe.

Aug 24 2015

My bully, myself

My bully, myselfWhat do you think of when you think of bullying? Playground taunts? Cyberstalking? Mean girls? Workplace passive-aggressiveness? We’ve been very, very fortunate here in the House of Chaos to have had little bullying come our way. It could have been horrifically life-altering for the boys, and what little we’ve had was quickly ended with a little parental intervention. It was mostly ordinary meanness anyway. But hooboy…coulda been bad. That said, J is heading to middle school this week and who knows what tween horrors await.

My friend Pamela Price recently released her new book on gifted kids and bullying. We’ve talked, off and on, about bullying and what it looks like. I maintain I somehow escaped a lot of bullying growing up, and I suspect she doesn’t entirely believe me. There was a little middle school drama, but nothing life-changing. In high school I lived in the band room and half my friends were guys; I really missed out on a lot of the Mean Girl life (thank.god.). College and grad school and beyond…I can’t think of much. I know my husband had a considerably different bullying experience, but that’s not my story to share.

So maybe I escaped bullying from others growing up, but I sure as hell didn’t escape it entirely.

I bully myself.

If others spoke to me the way I speak to myself in my head…I just can’t imagine. I can’t imagine hearing the humiliating and insulting things I say to myself come from someone else’s talk hole. It may also be known as Impostor Syndrome, but goes a little deeper than that, deep into the very core of me. One is what I do, the other is who I am. 

You should really…
Why don’t you…
Why aren’t you…
Why haven’t you…
If you would only…
If you could only…

You slept too late (all of 7:00 am), now you’re behind for the day. No wonder you can’t get anything done.
You got up too early (all of 6:00 am), now you’re going to be exhausted and worthless for the day. No wonder you can’t get anything done.
You overdid it again today. You’re going to pay for that tomorrow and be worthless for the day. No wonder you can’t get anything done.
You didn’t exercise today. No wonder you have 50 pounds to lose. Also? Fifty pounds? Jesus, woman. No wonder you’re tired and achy all the time. How can your husband stand you?
You call yourself a writer? Really? Because there’s not a whole lot of writing going on lately. Sure, you’re managing to get some journaling in most days, but writing? Pfft. You’re a hack. You’ll never be a writer and you’ll have to live with others doing what you want to do, because they were able to get their lives together enough to get words on a page.
You call yourself a flutist? Really? How about you practice for a change? You’re going to get to band next week and piss down your leg. Don’t you remember when that happened in that one orchestra rehearsal, and you were disinvited to return? You want that to happen again?
You’re a homeschooler? HA! Your poor kid. You are screwing him and he’s going to pay for your educational negligence for the rest of his life.
You haven’t been in the official workforce for 15 years and are entirely unemployable. Better hope your son overcomes your educational negligence so he can afford to care for you in your dotage, if you make it that long, you unhealthy bag of meat.
No one likes your humor, you are far too profane for a woman of your age, your best days are behind you, and you’d better just hope you don’t end up alone because who the hell would want to add your metric crapton of baggage to their lives? You lucked out with Tom, better not screw that up.

I’m a riot at parties.

Now, before you worry about me and call the soothing men with the huggy jackets, please know that this isn’t always a running monologue in my head; sometimes I sleep. Most of the time I am fine, go about my days, rock the hell out of my life, and generally kick ass and take names (see? profane). But that bullying voice knows exactly when and where and how to drive in the knife and twist; it’s when I’m unawares and maybe hurting a bit and a little sensitive, then BAM! Bullies are good like that; they know when to attack for the most satisfying result.

I do my best to ignore it, not give it the attention on which it so obviously thrives, and sometimes I even fight back. I’m getting pretty good at shoving a metaphorical dirty sock into its mouth; it fights back by crying out past the sock that it’s just saying what others are so obviously thinking, so don’t kill the messenger. I wouldn’t believe someone if they actually said these things to me, I’d actually lose respect for someone saying them to me, and I’d probably have a good laugh at that person later. It’s so much harder when it’s your own voice telling you these things. I’m getting better at not believing everything I think, which is a great first (and thirtieth…and four hundredth) step, but it sure ain’t easy.

So what do you think of when you think of bullying? Do you recognize it when you do it to yourself? Because that needs to stop, just as it needs to stop against our kids. We’re worth it too.

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Today’s bit of blogging therapy is part of August’s GHF Blog Hop, on the topic of bullying and the gifted/2e population. Take some time and visit the other participants, it’ll be well worth your time.

GHF Blog Hop: Bullies, Bullying, and Gifted/2E Kids

Aug 23 2015

Living with a teenage troll

My sons never fail to entertain me. They went on a road trip last week with my parents, gone for a handful of days to visit the Ford Museum in Michigan. Tom and I had an unexpected few days alone together. We hardly knew what to do (get your mind out of the gutter, that we know how to do). We talked and we enjoyed the silence. We watched some TV before we were so tired we’d fall asleep in front of the set. However, one night he got a phone call and was on long enough that the Apple TV screensaver came on. And we were treated to this:

 

Trolled

 

 

That, my friends, is a thing of beauty. Our 14 year old hacker son, the one with the alphabet soup of diagnoses, the one I’ve lost so much sleep over worrying about his future, the one with slowly improving executive function skills…planned and executed the perfect trolling of his parents…and I had exactly zero clue. He found the photos, set up an album (which somehow I did not discover), changed the screensaver (which we did not know could be done), and then did the hardest part. He sat and waited. And waited. We don’t watch a lot of TV, so he was waiting for quite awhile. Turns out he did this a week before we noticed. I don’t know how he managed to keep it quiet and not blow from anticipation. Poor kid, after a week of waiting we discovered it while he was gone.

After all the years of worry and therapies and fretting and frustration and fear and anger and helplessness, we’ve hit a good stretch of what could almost be called contentment. Things aren’t perfect and never will be, but right now they don’t suck, and I’ll take it. I do have very serious concerns about the other boy in our home, but I’m hoping they’re just the typical tween crap that seems so huge now because when his brother went through it, it was with the accompanying 2e hell and we didn’t notice. But right now, on this cusp of middle and high school, things are good.

Even when living with a teenage troll.

 

Aug 07 2015

Invisible does not mean fictional

invisible does not mean fictional

“I don’t believe gluten-free is as necessary as some people claim. Food sensitivities? No, that’s just a picky eater. You’re being played.”
“Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Oh, that’s just a made up thing. Just get more sleep. I’m tired all the time, too. Quit complaining. You can’t be that tired.”
“Why do you need that? You look fine. You just need to buck up and put on your big girl panties.”
“I think ADHD is over-diagnosed and parents just drug their kids so they don’t have to parent them.”
“Everyone gets a little down in the winter. Seasonal depression? Just get outside more, soak up a little precious sun.”
“What do you have to be depressed about? Count your blessings!”
“What the hell is sensory processing disorder? All that kid needs is a good spanking. Quit wasting your money on occupational therapy. He’s just a spoiled brat.”
“Gifted? Pfft. Gifted is just elite parents trying to make their kids better than all the others. All parents think their kids are gifted. Besides, your kid can’t possibly be gifted, he can’t even <fill in the blank>.”
“She’s fine. Just love her and she’ll be fine.”

Invisible does not mean fictional.

Just because you can’t see it, or you don’t live it, or you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and affect others. I’ve heard all of those comments above, in one form or another, over the last ten years. They have not all been spoken to me directly, but when you read it in blog posts or overhear conversations or see it splashed all over social media…you hear it.

Why do people doubt others’ experiences so strongly? They can’t take our word for it? No one doubts me when I say I have a headache, oftentimes I’m even offered ibuprofen. So why, when it comes up that I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I have to be careful with my energy output, am I doubted and challenged with, “Me too. I’m tired all the time too. I should really get more sleep” or “If you exercised more regularly you’d have more energy.” I get eight or more hours a sleep a night, but if I’ve overdone it with activity and/or stress I can easily hit the wall mid afternoon and there’s no turning back. I’ve crashed more times than I can count in the last decade; it’s not pleasant. I have friends with MS, anaphylactic food allergies, Meniere’s, all manners of auto-immune disorders. I have friends parenting kids with SPD and ADHD and severe depression and all manners of mental illness. These may not be easily seen or understood, but they’re sure as hell not fictional. Being marginalized or ignored or told to “buck up, buttercup” is insulting and not doing anyone any favors.

Invisible does not mean fictional.

Aug 06 2015

Do you work?

Do you workMy least favorite question in the history of language-based inquiry is “Do you work?”

Bitch, please. There is not a woman in the entirety of recorded civilization who hasn’t worked, it’s just not always work that is recognized or valued. Caring for one’s children, sure not a lot of pay there. Running a home on one salary for multiple people, sure no applause for that feat. Can you imagine how many non-profits would fold without the volunteer efforts of “non-working” women?

Yeah, I work. Hard. Unfortunately, most people don’t see the effort, they just wonder why I’m so stressed out. I can’t leave my work at the office because home and office (and school) are one and the same. Trust me, I’d love to work for respectable pay, with benefits and a 401k and all that, but I can’t see how I could possibly make that work with my family situation…and if I don’t check it quickly, that often leaves me angry and frustrated and overflowing with self-loathing.

No, I don’t leave my house at 7 am five days of seven to use my skills in exchange for monetary compensation. Amuses me that this is so assumed these days when barely a generation ago it was nearly unheard of for a mother to do such a thing. Times move slowly until they sprint.

I’ve been out of the “official” full-time workforce for 15 years, which is about seven or eight years longer than I expected. At this point I’m practically unemployable by today’s standards. Anything in which I’m interested I do not have enough experience or the wrong qualifications, I’m overqualified for positions that don’t require any experience at all, and have too much experience to be affordable in positions for which I am qualified. My degrees are in music and education, which don’t always transfer well to other areas, and I don’t have the time or money or patience or interest to return to school at this time to get a degree or training in god knows what for a position doing who knows what.

I don’t sit around all day in yoga pants doing nothing. Ok, maybe in weeks past I was sitting around in yoga pants, but that’s because something I ate had not set well with my system, and instead of the bloating going to my boobs as would only be fair and just, I looked about four months pregnant. But I’m not doing nothing. I’m planning the fall homeschool lessons for a high schooler please light a candle for me I am not ready for this. I’m working on my second book. I’m writing and scheduling blog posts. I’m setting up speaking engagements. I’m organizing and cleaning and prepping and setting routines and figuring what to keep and what to drop so that I can homeschool and run a household and teach flute and continue to write and maybe, just maybe, also start up my own business. Someday my sons really will be on their own and won’t need me hourly daily and I’d like to have something ready to take that space.

In the meantime, I’ve found a way to ensure a tiny bit of peace as I work in my open loft office:

Do Not Disturb Mom

This plus earplugs and an absolute refusal to acknowledge any interruptions is training my sons to leave me alone while it’s on the music stand near my desk. Just don’t even try, dudes.

I work. I work hard. I wish I were paid accordingly, but I’m not. But that doesn’t mean I don’t work.

So when I’m asked, yet again, if I work, my answer will be simply, “yes.” And that’s it.

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.

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