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Feb 02 2012

I swear I’m not bragging

So. Um. Hi there. It’s been a hell of a 24 hours here. Last night about this time I sat down to finally read a blog post I saw on my Facebook feed, one that someone suggested might irritate me. One response blog post later and um, I’m kinda glad I have a great domain host because my wee little piece of the interwebz exploded today. When the stats line goes straight up and you can’t keep up with the comments, yeah, you’ve hit a nerve.

If you haven’t had a chance to read the comments, pour a drink and dig in. You will find some incredibly dedicated parents who are doing everything they can for the kids who are sprinting ahead, and yet are belittled by society because they are seen as pushing their kids, or playing the “my kid is better than your kid” game. I suggest reading Christi at Away from the Oven, to get an idea of what it’s like from both outlying ends of the bell curve. Or Mona at Life with Intensity to see what the mom of a profoundly gifted child deals with.

I am humbled by the response to last night’s post. Words fail me, which is kinda bad, as I’m a writer and I need them. I don’t write about parenting gifted kids as often as I could, for several reasons. The big one is that I’m writing a book about that very topic, and having material for the printed page is more than a little necessary in the creation of a book. I’m also a contributing writer to An Intense Life, which is Christine Fonseca’s blog on all things gifted (and she is guest posting tomorrow about writing for gifted teens, celebrating the release of her new novella). But the biggest and ugliest reason is also why I have two solid shelves of books on gifted kids I keep putting off reading: at the end of the day, sometimes it hurts to read or write about what you just survived. You simply want a glass of wine and the most brain-drain periodical or eye candy (hello, Hawaii Five-0) you can find. And other times, nothing will energize you more.

So welcome. We need to keep fighting the good fight, not only for our kids, but for us. Together we’ll be strong enough to face another day of unending questions, school meetings that reintroduce us to our breakfast, and kids who are somehow able to function on 3.14159 hours of sleep.

Just use the code words. You know, so it doesn’t sound like we’re bragging.

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  1. Sonja

    I read the first blog post last night and was discouraged, but didn’t think too much about it. There are so many people that just don’t get it.

    Tonight I read your post and Mona’s post and I feel so sad. It is very lonely to be the parent of gifted children. No one seems to understand, except someone who is there, in the trenches, fighting the good fight.

    I would save my children from the sense of loneliness that accompanies being gifted, if I could. The pain I still feel is very real and tangible. Maybe by homeschooling them, they will not feel the pain of being so very different from everyone else.

    Thank you for your post. May we all continue to survive life with giftedness surrounding us.

    1. Another Mum

      I could not have said it better myself.

      As I enter the beginning of a school year in Australia albeit at a new and “better” fitting institution than the last, I feel sick to my stomach with worry and stress from past experience.

      The loneliness and strain that comes from parenting a profoundly gifted child is immense. It’s not comfortable knowing your 4 year old is miles ahead of the rest and prefers the teachers conversation than making a friend of her own age. It is heart breaking when your 10 year old is hiding in a school toilet, crying because the teacher sent her to the office for asking another question she deemed as arrogant. When your child comes home having done no work in class because they are so bored out of their mind they tuned out or your 5 year old didn’t do her journal writing because the language she uses is advanced and the teacher won’t help her spell them.

      To the parents who read this and may have been complaining about us talking about our kids, please do not condemn us. We are parents with battles just like you.

      When you are helping your child to read I am in the office begging any teaching staff member who will listen to help my child and ease their frustration and boredom. When you are at the park and see that child who withdraws when the crowd or noise increases, that is my child who suffers intensities you could never imagine and so cannot handle crowds or chaos. When you are building a block tower with your 3 year old mine is crying in frustration because she has the mental ability, but not the dexterity to put together Lego for children twice her age and must do it all herself… Duplo is NOT an option it doesn’t come in technics.

      My kids are the ones who have trouble making friends because they talk about marine biology instead of Hannah Montanna. My kids are the ones with low self esteem who feel like aliens unless they dumb down their language around everyone including most adults. My kids are the ones with enormous moral compasses and a sense of justice that can light a fire of passion or rage when things are not done fairly by those around them. My kids are the ones with crude labels like ‘Little Einstein’ or ‘Sheldon from big bang’ given by poorly equipped educators. My kids are the ones who complain about mess, noise, smells, texture, injustice and boredom on a minute by minute basis. They hate group work because the other children do not have the same abstract understanding and so reject their ideas, they hate lunchtime because your kid calls them a nerd for always having the answer even though most the time they aren’t sure how they learned it.

      Rarely they find a child like themselves or a grown up who understands and supports them but most of the time they are just bashing their heads against a ceiling. The schools cannot cater for them and the other 98% of society attacks them for being what they were born as. That gifted Mum needs a coffee and a chat as much as the next tired parent, she herself is probably also gifted and therefore more socially awkward than you are on top of not wanting to mention her child’s characteristics because of how your insecurities make you feel about her kid’s abilities.

      This Mum of 3 well mannered and kind little girls who also fall into the end of the bell curve is sick of your assumptions about my personality or parenting. I don’t mean to brag but my kids are exceptional and so are their needs, I’ll take a medal with that coffee thanks.

      1. mama7

        As a formerly gifted child who has grown up and is mothering a large family of gifted children… I do see the “gifted” side of this issue.

        However, I teach my children that being gifted comes with a great responsibility to not allow our giftedness to become a stumbling block or point of offense for people. It’s impossible to keep some people from offense, their insecurities make them read things into thin air, but we CAN avoid bragging.

        It’s just as tacky to brag about high IQ or prodigious musical talent as it is to brag about athletic instinct, inborn grace, or being an instinctive social butterfly. Whatever the gifts, they come with the responsibility to be humble because our gifts are also our burdens.

        Anyone dealing with giftedness knows how powerful the social barriers gifted children face. It’s not enough that these children usually struggle with social situations and connecting with age-peers that are not able to understand them. They also deal with adults and children who actively demean them and intentionally or unintentionally create issues that lead to isolation and an unwillingness to deal with anybody not able to just accept who they are without judging them.

        Parents with gifted children should teach their children and practice realistic expectations of other people. It’s might be unfair, but it’s unrealistic to expect non-gifted children and their parents to not be jealous or threatened, or just irritated by a gifted child’s abilities. Your kids have to live in this world, prepare them for it. As adults, giftedness is wonderful, people are more accepting of it, even admiring although mostly gifted people learn to hide their abilities from the public. For gifted children who aren’t immersed in a “Gifted culture”, it is a nightmare. Get your child a few friends who truly like them, even if it means long distance penpals, or traveling out of state.

  2. Mona

    Amen, sister!

  3. My Kids Mom

    Hang in there- you know how well you’re supported out here!

    This morning I was woken by “I’m 7 years, 364 days and 21 hours old!” And then there was a discussion of which years of his life had been leap years. All while I was still in bed. Head spinning.

    1. Sarast mu

      Wow, that sounds like something my son would say! My son is just 6 but we’ve already had a discussion on leap years, too 🙂

  4. Bella

    I was just reading about the group of writers on all things gifted and wondering if they are looking for more writers? I’d love to be involved.

    1. Jen

      Drop Christine an email and ask her. 🙂

  5. Elizabeth

    I loved your post from the other night so much that I’ve put you in my favorites. There are just so few who get it. I had a discussion with my favorite babysitter (a friend who trades me babysitting time) today about that post, in fact. Her kids are (so far) pretty normal, yet she gets my son and she’s so good with him. We met at baseball last year and she was the one mom on the team that tried to bring snacks my son could eat. I wanted her to know again how rare she is and how good it was that I could tell her things. Her daughter is like the daughter of the person who spurred your email — incredibly nice kid. And I was thinking that part of that woman’s problem is that she does have a “gifted kid” and doesn’t realize. Empathy of that heightened level is unusual and comes with it’s own troubles. My friend’s daughter is good in school, but can be distracted by another child’s strong emotions. Her teachers call her a joy to teach, but a busy-body, because she needs to help if someone is sad and she needs to celebrate if someone is happy.

    So between you and me, that person probably should be in your circle. She’s just a little more clueless than us.

  6. Allie

    Holy moly….203 comments on your post! Well, it was awesome. I finally wrote my response to the Babycenter post and feel 50 times better getting it off my chest (though I’ll probably get 200 less comments). I have never read Christine’s blog so thank you for introducing me to it!

  7. kly

    Boy, reading some of the frustrations the other parents have dealt with, I can empathize. My son is in 8th grade now and public school was hell. The community was great at the magnet arts school he attended, but he languished academically, and even became convinced he was dumb because he couldn’t do the simplest tasks. He could, however, type out a 5000 word book report (on a book that was five grades above his grade level) and figure out algebra problems in his head.

    He was Dxd with ADD by a neuropsych. Meds didn’t help. He transferred to a Catholic school where the sons and daughters of CEOs and surgeons were reading Dan Brown in the fifth grade. He preferred fantasy books like Lord of the Rings, but again felt stupid and immature because he wasn’t reading adult literature. So he quit reading. Just quit. Despite that, he still tests off the charts in vocabulary.

    Now he’s back in public school with yet another Rx for an IEP, and the counselor refuses to make one because he’s a B student. But, he’s a b student because he averages 97% on his tests even though his homework average is 5%. And he’s only taking one advanced class.

    Movie recommendation: The Art of Getting By. Freddie Highmore plays a high school senior who gets within three weeks of graduation and is told he must complete every single assignment for the entire year or flunk out.

    Been there, done that seventh grade. Almost a quarters worth of homework in one and a half nights.

    How about seven years of piano lessons and the kid still can’t read music?

    How about low self esteem and social ineptitude? Gaah!!!

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