It’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.
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.
*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.
What do I need? This week, that is alarmingly easy to answer. I need money. Grants, fundraisers, SOMETHING. Everyone assumes gifted means success, or at least financial stability. NOPE. Having resources of any kind for parents of gifted/2E kids who can’t spend $1500+ on testing, $1000+/year on curricula, $650+ on a week-long conference with people who understand… Any of those things would be great. Oh! Corollary! For either SENG or NAGC, or possibly both, to be held either in SW Ontario, or in Chicagoland, so that I can pretend I can afford to attend. Even if they held the conferences in my backyard, I still couldn’t go, there’s no way to get that kind of money together. But, I could see some of the people who gather for these events, and pretend like I have an actual social life to speak of.
I need time. Time that is quiet. Time in which I am not The Parent On Point. I am “on” from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep. Mad Natter will not sleep alone. He MUST sleep with someone he can cuddle. Fine. But if I leave after he goes to sleep, he wakes up sobbing that he’s all alone in the dark, and if I leave before he goes to sleep, he’ll still be awake and wreaking havoc hours later. I need time to just be me. And I can’t get it.
I also need this crazy smart child to at least pretend he listens to me even half as well as he does his LEGO101 “How To Build” videos. Because right now, ain’t nothing getting done unless mama snaps and starts screaming, shouting, and crying. I think maybe I need boozeahol and pizza, and a day on the beach. That’d work.
I need my support network. Indeed to be able to glance across the room at my husband, make eye contact, and know, in an instant, that he is as tired and exhausted as I am as our children drag us through one more museum, landmark, library, or dinosaur-themed-something-or-other. I need to be able to text another 2e or GT mom to relate a story that I can’t share with anyone else without appearing to brag. Or, to share a WTF-has-happened-to-my-life moment. I need fifteen minutes alone, each morning, to enjoy my coffee. Most importantly, I need to learn to shut it down. To stop the constant worry that I am not doing enough, advocating enough, being enough. Also…. did I mention I need coffee??
Me Too ! 15 min alone coffee! yes!
My first thought was a massage and a nap. I’m still pretty keen on those things, but what I really need is MORE. More time for myself, more patience, more energy, more time to explore things with my kids, more understanding from people who have no idea what it’s like to parent gifted and 2e kids, more education for the school districts that can’t/won’t help us, more options for low-income gifted kids, etc. More sleep wouldn’t hurt either.
I am only beginning the journey. So others may have better ideas than me.
For non special Ed teachers to get more than a cursory introduction to special needs issues in learning . More of an emphasis on divergent learning styles in their education. More resources that parents can refer teachers to in how to improve instruction to reach more kids, including my own. And more resources on LDs other than ADHD and dyslexia – other processing disorders, dyscalculia, etc.
To stop the spiral learning method of instruction. It is failing all the kids.
More time to teach at home to mastery.
Employment with flexibility.
For more understanding of the seriousness of life threatening food allergies and their impact on children and families. LESS food in lesson plans!
Financial breaks for private school tuition and educational supports we have to buy to use in home and school.
Greater caps on financial accounts to give the ability for those with special needs to save for their education and future.
I would want a in-real-life, face-to-face gifted parenting support group. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE all of the wonderful moms of gifted children I have met online–I would not have survived without them. But, I need a support group. One where we meet for coffee or wine, maybe daily, and with whom I can call when I’ve had a rough day with an intense gifted child. And most importantly, a support group where I can feel safe, maybe even normal, talking about my gifted kid.
That’s all. Thank you in advance. 🙂
I need a school with a gifted program in my area. There are none! I have found a private school that has listened to me and my son – and, so far, figured out his needs. However it is REALLY expensive.
What a great question!! We spend all our lives thinking about what our littles need. I hardly ever think beyond what I need in order to take care of everyone else. Having all I need to be an efficient mom, wife, daughter-in-law, daughter, sister, friend, caretaker, educator, business owner, is as far as I ever get in thinking about what I need.
I’ve written and erased three times so far. Each time I realized that I’m still answering what others in my life need. I’m going to try to answer how I care for myself.
I get up early and sip my tea or coffee on the end of my bed, look out my window, answer email, Facebook or play candy crush while listening to my husband snore on the days he leaves after 5:30 a.m. I used to walk with my friend, but I haven’t done that in a while- it was taking up too much time.
I try to do date night, make time to connect with my husband daily,eat chocolate and drink wine. I eat well when I eat, honestly sometimes I forget. I try to replenish my energy, especially my mental energy. My little has always been very intense so it’s important for me to keep my mental energy up. When I’m all talked out, I’m honest about it with her. It teaches her how to do that for herself (she’s an introvert) and it teaches her boundaries and to be aware of her impact on others.
To answer the “what I need” question- I need time. Time to think about nothing, to zone out once in a while, to quiet my mind without interruption. I need a vacation by myself. Family vacations, even couples vacations are work for mommas. All the planning and organizing makes me exhausted and stressed.
Some sort of gifted toddler respite care. Neither one of my kids (5 and 2) has ever been able to stay with a sitter. Ever. I need a combination of Superman, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and an OT to be my babysitter. Looking forward to reading other’s survival stories.
I was going to say something similar to Becky: I need a nanny who loves, and is experienced with, intense gifted kids! But of course there are probably a total of 5 in the whole world, and their employers won’t let them go. And while the kids are with that nanny, I need the daily group Celi described 🙂
Oh, and I need more than 1 measly week.
What Care, Becky and Celi have said all sound good. Babysitters that understand gifted children would be great. Funding for testing, and for resources are important.
What I want though is just permission to really talk about my life. I want to be able to talk about them somewhere where I don’t have to worry about the internet keeping it stored forever and showing it to the wrong person a some random point in my life. I want to be able to talk to other local parents without worrying about it being interpreted as bragging. I want to talk without worry that the other parent will start to be defensive about what his or her child is (or isn’t) learning because kids are different and they shouldn’t all be expected to learn the same stuff.
I want counselling so that I can deal with the emotional issues that having an socially awkward gifted child brings to me (memories of my own awkward childhood, of bullying, etc).
My in person gifted group does save my life, so happy to have it. If there wasn’t such a group near me, I’d start one. I also host a monthly moms night out (we meet at a different restaurant for an early dinner so we can be back for bedtime if necessary) that is essential. A bi monthly massage at my chiropractor factors in greatly, as well as sharing play dates with other parents. Find your people, schedule play dates and once everyone is comfortable, only the host parent stays while all the other parents leave and have a break, or get errands done, etc. Also, at one point my husband ran his own business and didn’t have to leave for work until 8:30, so, during that time I’d get up at 6am and do a 2 hour hike with a friend before the kids woke up most mornings. That was fantastic and not only exercise but therapy most days, lol! It’s so important to take care of YOU, or you gave nothing to give!
What do I need? I need to find you at SENG and say hello! I’m excited to finally meet some of the amazing people from the GHF community. 🙂
Friends who understand, for me and my daughter.. I know I am not the first to post this, but I want to underscore what others have said.
Someone who understands that my kid can be fascinated with words and is geeked to learn Latin, but has a melt down when I change the schedule. Someone to cheer on and vice versa. I cannot afford to pay a membership fee for the local group.
It’s taken me quite a while (and a lot of therapy, lol) to understand that my self care to keep up with these brilliant kids is going to be more than mani pedi time or $5 at Starbucks.
I need time with no questions or negotiations or technicality corrections. I need something interesting and challenging to ruminate over while I’m carrying out the tedious tasks of SAHMing. I need a Lego set that’s just mine, and sleep that’s not interrupted, and time with my husband to remind me of the me who wasn’t so stretched mentally all the time.
I need grace. For myself. For my kids. For our messy, lovely, wonderful chaos. Grace for choosing today to make memories, learn, guide and advocate for these guys instead of xyz.
I need to mother and nurture myself and my special needs as passionately as I do theirs.
And, I think I need to unpack how growing up as a gifted kid affects my parenting and fierce fighting for my gifted kids. In some ways, I’m more passionate about advocating for them and enrichment activities, and helping them understand how to cope emotionally and manage sensitivities. ..because that wasn’t my experience. Am I fighting for them to feel understood and nurtured, or me?
I need someone to listen and take a chance on my child. He’s been turned down/shut out of programs and classes because of his age…including vacation Bible school at a local church (last year). It’s been truly difficult to get him into activities he’s interested in because we’re always being told that he’s too young…even though he has the ability/interest to excel. Thankfully, there have been a few people and opportunities that have come our way…but it’s been very difficult to find them. I would also love the ability to home school him 100% of the time, without having to rely on a blended model.
I need real gifted school options. Yeah Plural. I’ve got 2 2e kids with different needs and one gifted school in my area, that’s unlike to work for both of them at the same time. And/or a bag of money to pay for a staff of shrinks, after school activities, OT gym, house cleaners. organizers, and healthy take out meals it feels like it would take to get the family going in a way where everyone wasn’t constantly bumping up against each other’s needs.
Really I need to feel like my own needs are worth tending to before I blow at one of my kids because they are so damn persistent about meeting their own needs/whims/desires. I need to feel like somebody else can do it for them, and will.
I need a gifted support program that actually gets 2E kids. I need to get to the end of one day where I haven’t felt like I’ve failed one or the other of my kids. I need to know that I am doing the right things for them.