Last updated on April 12, 2020
The summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college I had the pleasure of a tonsillectomy. It was necessary really; after ten years of begging doctors who insisted I didn’t need one, it took contracting mono the previous spring to convince an ENT to do a little snippy snippy on my throat. Nothing like being told, “Here! Take this Prednisone so your throat doesn’t swell shut while you sleep!” My poor roommate. It was hotter’n hell that summer, and our house didn’t have air conditioning, something I remind my sons of every freaking summer. I spent two weeks…yes, that was the number two followed by the words weeks…on the sofa bed recuperating. When you have four…yes, that was the number four…tonsils removed, recovery tends to be a bit extreme. I couldn’t swallow because then I’d gag on my hangy-down-thing, which resembled nothing so much as a grape. You’re welcome for that mental image. It was hot, I was miserable, and I had little patience with anything.
This is a long winded way of saying that I’m flashing back to that summer, lo those 20 years ago, because I seem to have contracted some miserable Back to School Plague this week. I am hot, I am miserable, and I have little patience with anything. Only now I have the pleasure of homeschooling my uber-intense twice-exceptional son while ill. I just lurve discussing the origins of the universe through a pounding headache and multiple deadlines.
Early this morning, before I’d had a cup of coffee or even recognized that I had left my bed and was standing in the kitchen wondering just what the hell I was doing there, Tom patted the iPad and said softly, “Sweetie, when you’re feeling up to it, there’s something on CNN that you really need to read.” He and I need to have a little conversation on levels of CNN importance, because I think it was only my sleep-deprived state that kept me from flying right into a holy crap it’s another September 11th code red level of panic. Thankfully the world was still spinning. He wanted me to read an opinion post by a single mom about her gifted daughter, a wonderful, lovely post. For the first time in ages, I read about giftedness in a mainstream publication, and it wasn’t spewing hate and ignorance about my sons and their wiring.
And then this afternoon, against my better judgment, I read the comments.
Note to self: stop reading comments. That’s where the trolls live, and they’re not there to collect a toll so you can cross the bridge, no no no…they’re there to spew hate and ignorance and make themselves feel better.
I got about a dozen comments down before I realized that if I kept throwing up in my mouth a little with every one I was going to have a volume problem sooner rather than later. There were a few incredibly coherent comments, all on the side of “giftedness is wiring and gifted programs are academic interventions,” but for the most part the comments were atrocious.
And it occurred to me, in my ibuprofen-popping state, that there is one clear reason for this.
People are willfully ignorant of giftedness. As in, they want to be ignorant of it and will go out of their way to convince themselves that they do not need nor want to be corrected. Because if they cracked open their minds just a little, to perhaps even consider the possibility of another point of view, they might have to confront the possibility that (gasp! ohs noes!) they could be wrong.
It’s the willful ignorance that bothers me. General ignorance doesn’t, it just means you don’t (yet) know. But standing on a street corner, refusing to open your eyes, and screaming that the sky could not possibly be blue because behind your eyelids you see black….AGH! Willful ignorance.
I wish there was a gifted community somewhere, preferably Napa Valley, where the families of gifted and twice-exceptional kids could say screw you to willful ignorance and go live their lives. Where learning was life-long, self-paced, and multi-aged. Where ideas could flow freely and ignorance was an opportunity to go learn something new. Where there was a tap to the wine barrels in the cellar.
I’m so tired of this. I’m tired of being accused of bad parenting, of elitism, of bragging. I’m tired of being on high alert all the time, of putting my life and what’s left of any possibility of a career on hold for my son’s educational needs, of the guilt from yearning for a different life because this one…
Willful ignorance, people. That’s what it comes down to. And that’s more difficult to fight than any issue our kids present us. Chandra Moseley, I don’t know you but wish we could have met before I moved from Colorado last year. I feel your pain, babe. I’m on your team.