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Feb 05 2013

2e Tuesday: Growing into himself

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As my boys get older, I’ve found it’s getting more and more challenging to write honestly about their lives. I’m not the first blogger to run into this, not by a long shot, but it’s not exactly something I was ready for. I’ve managed to keep their identities mostly hidden (for crying out loud, I wrote an entire book without using their names or initials, big hat tip to my editor Sarah for her assistance with that bit of fun), but I know it’s the internet and it’s permanent and I don’t want them to have even more to discuss with a therapist in the future. So it’s a balancing game.

Back when the brown stinky was throwing itself into the air-moving device, I wrote a lot about the hell (and it was hell) we were living. It gave me an outlet and helped me find others who had gone through it and made it to the other side. They were not entirely unscathed, but they got through the fiery coals and reached back a hand to me. Gratitude doesn’t begin to cover it. It’s an intense kind of gratitude, indescribable but deeply felt. And now that we’re in the eye of the storm (between what we survived and what I know is coming up next year he’ll-be-a-teen-please-hold-me), it’s my turn to reach back a hand. I talk to a lot of parents, and I see myself of years past. I remember and still viscerally feel what they’re dealing with every day. It’s so much better now, but I’ll never forget.

My son is growing into himself. Finally. Pulling him from school last year to homeschool allowed that. It allowed him to be who he truly is and not what remained after every adult in his life took a turn ramming him into a mold that didn’t fit. He is more confident in himself, more affectionate, more…more everything positive, whereas when he was in school it was more everything negative (frustrated, irritated, anxious, confrontational). It’s taken a year and a bit to see this, but it really shone brightly this past weekend.

Saturday was the VEX Robotics championship. It was an all-day event, 90 minutes from our house, with little chance of winning a thing. And his team didn’t win a thing, coming in 39th of 56 teams. Sounds terrible, until you consider that they were likely the youngest kids there and started their robot 2 1/2 months ago when the other teams began 10 months ago. So they actually kicked butt. But we really saw a different child that day. Tom was there when the judges interviewed the team. A stood tall and answered their questions, discussed their robot, and basically transformed from the child we knew into the man he was going to become. This is the kid who once had a full-on panic attack over the thought of standing in front of people to sing, who would refuse to do anything that might trigger stage fright. He is growing into himself right in front of our eyes, and it is glorious.

When I think of the hours of therapies, and my God the cost of those therapies (paid entirely out of pocket), and the constant vigilance, and the looks and the midnight sobbing marathons and the homework battles and the sheer pain of raising him to this point… Seeing him become more comfortable with himself, more confident, more him…it’s been worth the hours of therapies and the ungodly cost and being a hard-ass parent and dealing with all the crap. It sucked little green frogs the whole time and I hope to hell to never live it again, but we made it, at least this far.

It’s the eye of the storm, that I know. The teen years are looming, and frankly that scares the everlovin’ crap outta me. I think we deserve a pass on teen trauma, simply because the previous decade was so hard, but I doubt Murphy and his little Law will allow that. So I’ll take the current peace and gather strength for the impending teen storm. But damn, I’m thrilled to be at this place at this moment.

That said, I have to go dynamite the Tech Whisperer out of bed. He may only be 11, but the teen sleep schedule has descended with a resounding thud.

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8 comments

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  1. Misty Parker

    It’s nice to see light at the end (or the middle?) of the tunnel! Thanks!

    1. Jen

      Just keep swimming…just keep swimming… 😉

  2. Angie

    I can tell you from a few years of experience with teens, that each year it gets a little easier. It won’t be all wine and roses, and tears will still be shed, but it’s easier. I wish I knew the how and why, but I don’t. My kid isn’t 2e, but ADHD and being very bright has made for a challenging 17 years for all involved.
    The growth we’ve seen physically, emotionally, mentally and academically amazes me. I’ve learned to let go of others expectations for my awesome kid and accept where he is, and he’ll reach goals and milestones when he’s ready for them. That doesn’t mean we don’t encourage or plant ideas or push a little now and again, but we’ve really learned to respect where our kid is at.
    Enjoy those teen years, and try not to fret. Too much.

    1. Jen

      I’ll take easier. I know I couldn’t ask for easy, but easier than the last ten years would be a dream come true.

  3. Susanne

    I’m so happy for you! It’s nice to see hard work payout, and really hard work feels even better and sister, you’ve worked really hard and your family has worked really hard to make it here.

    Awesome to read, really!

  4. devang

    hi does anyone have tips on helping a gifted child get friends

  5. Jen V.

    For tips on helping a gifted child find friends, many parents have recommended The Gifted Kids’ Survival Guide — however, one parent on Amazon.com said that it is not good for 2E kids. It’s a book for the kid himself/herself to read. There are two kids volumes, one for middle school/elementary school ages and the other for teens. For my son, I saw things change for him a great deal in 4th grade. Somehow, weird/geek/nerd became cool in the 4th grade. In addition, I kept talking to him about how someone does like you even though they don’t want to spend every spare moment with you. Just getting him to chill out a bit helped loads. That has taken about 2 years to get through to him, so hang in there. Keep “ringing that bell” on the emotional stuff — my 2E kid can get a new math concept in a heartbeat and take years to figure out the emotional things.

  6. MamaB

    Oh I may have cried a bit reading this! I too have 2 2e sons. I could see a lot of one of them I’m this particular blog: his nose bled like a fountain waiting for Christmas Cantata to start out of nerves, he puked the first day of school, etc. the same things that overexcite and make h anxious are the things he wants to be able to do most without fear (and some of the things he is most proud of his siblings for doing.) I can almost imagine your joy standing there watching your young man. How encouraging you have been. Thank you!

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