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Apr 10 2017

Twelve years of twice-exceptional

It’s been a solid dozen years of twice-exceptional life here in the House of Chaos. Our son was 4 when we first had him evaluated for giftedness and we heard “likely twice-exceptional.” In that time we’ve done all the interventions, made all the changes, and upended our lives so as to scaffold our son into adulthood. I never thought I would homeschool, yet here I am, deep into the thickest scaffolding you can imagine, trying to get him to where HE needs to go. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been our reality for twelve years now. Wildly different is perfectly normal and we think nothing of it anymore.

And then I’m faced with what a neurotypical teenager is like. You’d think I’d be faced with that nearly daily, as I teach flute to a good number of them. But it’s different. I can’t really explain how, but it is. Something to do with how my students interact with me. I’m still doing a lot of scaffolding and teaching to how my students best learn, just as I am with my own son. I’ve been meaning to write a series on how homeschooling has made me a better flute teacher and how flute teaching has made me a better homeschooler. Someday, when I have time, which may be half past never.

I’m mentoring a young woman at church, for her Affirmation year. In Unitarian Universalism, young teens go through Affirmation, similar to Confirmation or Bas Mitzvahs. It’s a year long process and can be a challenge. Andy went through it last year and it just about did me in. The Affirmants do a service project as part of their journey, and then present a Statement of Belief to the full congregation at the end of the year. Getting our 2e son to work on, finish, and then present his project was probably a “half-case of wine” job. Getting our 2e son to work on and then give a speech in front of a room packed full of people was a “storage room at a bourbon distillery” job. We weren’t sure he’d give that speech until he finished and sat back down; I kept having flashbacks to the meltdown he had in 3rd grade, when he lost his shit in the school hallway because he was supposed to go out and sing with his class at the Open House and stage fright descended upon him with a resounding thud. So getting him through the Affirmation process last year was brutal, and we were so relieved to have it behind us. Next year is his brother and dear lord I hope we’re all  ready for that.

But back to my mentee. She is a delight. A flutist herself, I was paired with her for that reason. But she is a neurotypical 8th grade girl, and the reality of my alternative normal keeps goosing me. We talked very briefly last fall about her project, and she ran with it. I checked in on her maybe twice, then freaked out when I didn’t hear from her right before her project presentation. Her presentation? Perfect. Little input from me and absolutely no prodding. It was just done. In fact, she’s still working on her project; this week I was cc’d on an email she sent out into the community. I vaguely recall her saying she was going to do that, and…she did. No reminders. We met last week to discuss her belief statement. She already had a good portion of it written, we just discussed some finer points and that was that. No pushing from me, no scaffolding, nothing. I was barely needed, other than to remind her to slow down when she talks. Just got an email from her with the completed speech. Gobsmacked is putting it mildly.

In the meantime I’m scraping up the oobleck goo that is my 2e high schooler, trying to scaffold him through his struggles while begging encouraging him to design and build his own scaffolds for the future.

And the dichotomy stings.

Since we started homeschooling, we’ve had the luxury of essentially hiding from the “normal” world. We likely have two 2e sons, just based on the fact that I have to do a lot of similar scaffolding for both boys. So I don’t really know what the normal, non-2e world is like until it is literally standing in front of me, doing what it is supposed to do, done well and on time. A teen with a basic grip on time management or planning or the concept of cause and effect? An alien life-form to me. I try not to dwell on it, try not to be jealous, try not to rail at the world. But my god, I am so envious of the parents who don’t need to constantly herd their kids through life and homework and responsibilities. Do they even know how good they have it? I know they don’t grok what life is like on this side, that’s for damned sure.

I’ve often said that parenting 2e kids to adulthood is running a marathon at a sprinter’s pace. At this point of the race, the finish line is still over that last rise, there are no water stops within sight, and I’m flagging. We have two years to get one kid ready to launch, and his younger brother? Another half decade. So we still have 2-5 years, bare minimum, of this fast-paced marathon, and I suspect it won’t slow down much after that.

Life has gotten so much better over the last 12 years, it really has; any decade old post on this site proves that. The struggles have brought us closer, but my god it is still hard. It is demanding and thankless and exhausting, but it’s the only parenting life I know. But you know what? This wildly different is perfectly normal life is all mine, and after twelve years I’m finally embracing the weird it has brought to my life.

Just…boys? Please don’t take that as a challenge to up the chaos level, m’kay? Kthxbai.

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April’s GHF Blog Hop topic is Revisiting 2e. Many other bloggers are sharing their thoughts on this today; please go check them out as well!

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  1. Homeschooling2e

    In case it helps with the comparisons – not every neurotypical teen is as organized and competent as your mentee. We hosted exchange students the last few summers, and whew! Normal is a bell curve!

    As a parent with a younger 2e, I’m just starting to get my stride. I’m hoping that we can weather this half as well as you guys have!
    Homeschooling2e recently posted…2e: Hiding In Plain ViewMy Profile

  2. Lucinda

    Lol about the challenge! I just can’t imagine having a kid who gets on with a project like that. Even my non gifted non-2e teen needs so much support with executive stuff and anxiety. I guess we’ve gotta make the most of our water breaks where we can grab them.
    Lucinda recently posted…Is Your Sensitive Child Also a Thrill-Seeker?My Profile

  3. Deb Pressley

    I can completely understand (including the 1/2 case of wine projects LOL!), and for us its our own two kids, and I guess more unusually, the neurotypical is the boy. Get solidly into the teen years and add “teen drama of girls” (which we thought we were going to skip, somehow) and its been quite a ride. We’ve always kept the focus on how she will be an amazing adult, and it seems like once she learns her “superpowers” can be used for her benefit instead of tearing herself down, she will be unstoppable. Love your stories. Best of luck to all of us!

    1. Jen

      I teach enough flute lessons to young women that I can only imagine the hell of teen girl drama as a mom. At least, most of the time, my students will tell me what’s bothering them but I’m fairly certain they’re not spouting off to their parents. OY. My younger brother was much like your daughter; my parents just focused on getting him to adulthood and he’d be fine. And they were right. He’s happy and successful and now *I’M* the one with the issues. LOL! 😉

  4. Emily

    Thank you for sharing your story and validating what parents (and educators) go through with 2e children! I hope this helps educators better understand both parents and students, as well. Thank you!

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