I hate being patronized. Treated with a gentle smile and empty eyes and insincere words. It happens in only one area of my life, because as a flutist and teacher and writer and volunteer I am treated with more respect.
Or rather, a female parent.
As a female parent I am patted on the head when I issue concerns about my sons, one son in particular. I am seen as over involved, indulgent, and crafting elaborate mountains out of tiny little molehills. Ignorant of the “true facts,” I am a pest, something to be indulged briefly and then shooed away or ignored. It happened when I issued concerns about my son’s academic needs and it is happening again as I issue concerns about my son’s health.
He is an out of the box child in every sense, and if there is no box in which to file his complex issues, then obviously there are no issues whatsoever. Can’t have a problem if there’s no place to put it, right?
We’ve gone DIY on his education (hey! look! problems faded once we kicked the box to the curb!), and pretty soon may need to go DIY on his health as well. The doctor seems to think that a 12 year old who is the same size as his 9 year old brother isn’t a problem; I see a child who fell off the growth chart this year and think there’s a huge problem. So he’s going through the motions to prove there’s nothing wrong with my son; blood tests that come back within normal range and referrals to specialists and condescending conversations. Because what do I know? I’m only a homeschooling mom.
I’m sick of my entire life being DIY, and not even the fun DIY of fixing up the house. We have no money for that kind of fun DIY because we’ve been sucked dry by the unfun DIY. This is parenting without a net, and I am angry. I am angry that the resources that are supposed to be available to my family continue to fail us. The schools couldn’t help my son, western medicine says there’s nothing wrong with him, and I am left trying to pick up the pieces and glue them back into place. The stress and confusion and pain and drama of the last several years were all exacerbated by the fact that there is no social safety net, or it’s there with ripped holes and we fall through when we need its help the most.
There are no vacations, there are no special treats, there are no
keep this house from falling down home improvement projects, because all efforts and resources have to be thrown into weaving a net for ourselves. From education to medicine to corporate responsibility to the food supply, we’ve been failed. We are bootstrap people, but our boots are worn and the straps are frayed.
So when the Powers That Be wonder why more parents can’t and don’t get involved in more widespread gifted advocacy, I hope they run across this post. I do what I can, but I’m too busy gluing the pieces of my family back together and trying to weave a safety net for the future.
Parenting without a net is a dangerous high-wire act, and it’s taking a toll on far too many families. It’s taken a toll on ours. So don’t patronize me as I weave my safety net. I can’t afford to miss a step.