It’s Day Two of National Parenting Gifted Children week, and I am proud to be participating in the blog tour. Hosted by SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted), this is the fourth year of NPGC week. It coincides with the SENG conference (which I had planned to attend, until this cross-country move got in the way), and in addition to the blog tour, the nice folks at SENG have provided a free NPGC Week ebook: The Joy and the Challenge: Parenting Gifted Children. Seriously, go get it, you’ll learn something.
I had many topics I wanted to cover today, but finally narrowed it down to WHAT I WISH OTHERS KNEW ABOUT PARENTING 2E KIDS. Yes, all caps, because I feel strongly enough about this to shout it from the rooftops. How’re ten points for you? Ten no-holds-barred, painfully honest, please know I mean well points? Good? Good. Oh, and while I know I don’t speak for everyone, I’m gonna use the Royal We enough to drive y’all nuts.
- This long-distance dedication goes out to friends, teachers, acquaintances, extended family, and random people on the street. Bear with me, accept this with the love I’m throwing with it, here we go. Deep breath. We’re not making this shit up. We really do have gifted kids who have various issues that hold them back. Yes, it exists. You can have a highly gifted kid with processing speeds in the crapper/ADHD/Sensory Processing Disorder/anxiety/school underachievement. Highly gifted is NOT the same as high achieving. Highly gifted is how a person is wired, not what a person produces. Remember this.
- Parenting twice-exceptional kids is more exhausting than you could possibly imagine. We are ON all the time. We never know what will crop up when or where or how the 2e kid will react. Constant Vigilance! is our motto. We have to support and encourage the racing gifted mind (which is often several miles ahead of us) while at the same time nurturing the part of the kid that is struggling. Oh, and we have to have answers for damned near every question thrown at us; Dr. Google and I are besties.
- These 2e kids of ours are expensive. Therapy, medications, special diets for sensitive systems, more therapy, doctor appointments, specialized evaluations, therapy again…all stuff not covered by insurance. Classes, camps, computer programs, museum memberships, books books and more books. Repairs and/or replacement of home items fallen victim to “scientific investigations.” Clothing without tags and seams, weighted blankets…you get the idea. These are not extra-curricular activities, these are life skills they’re missing and need. We just hope and pray our kids get full scholarships to college or invent something mindblowing and make a fortune. And then remember us fondly.
- Sometimes we appear over-protective, sometimes we seem neglectful. Over-protective because our kids are so asynchronous and we’re never quite sure what age we’re dealing with at any given time, and neglectful because A) they need to suck it up and learn stuff that’s hard for them on their own and B) see #2.
- While we joke that twice-exceptional means “exceptionally gifted AND an exceptional pain in the ass,” that doesn’t mean anyone else can say that. Live the life before those words escape your lips.
- These kids abhor change, any kind of change. Change of plans, change of location, change of anything. Surprises suck. Yet they crave novelty. This seesaw of intensity is like playing tug of war with a black hole; you don’t get anywhere and eventually someone is going to get crushed. It is, in a word, hell. Now just imagine what today’s cross-country move is like for my 10 year old 2e son.
- Not every 2e kid has the same issues. Every.Single.One.of these kids presents differently, and they are not in parenting magazines, books, mainstream blogs, or general societal acceptance. So when we find other parents in the same leaking boat, bailing water with a cracked styrofoam cup, we’re thrilled. We’re not living the exact same lives, but close enough that we can relax a little bit when we all get together, knowing that we’re not going to be judged by those who just don’t get it.
- Sometimes, in my ugliest and darkest days, I wonder why I had kids. I rail at the universe, wishing for a different, more normal life, feeling guilty for those painful thoughts. Deep, dark, disturbing thoughts that I work to keep silent. They bubble to the surface after those interminable days of non-stop intensity, never knowing what is going to pop up when or where…also, again see #2. I stay packed for those unexpected guilt trips.
- We will go to the ends of the earth for our 2e kids, and do so damned near every day. For the record, the ends of the earth ain’t all that; pretty dry and dusty and lots of beige. I’ve racked up quite a few emotional frequent flyer miles going there and back. I love my sons with a passion that takes my breath away. Yet, I envy the “normal” family. The one that can go out for ice cream without worrying if there’s something non-dairy available. The one that has the time and money and emotional energy to go on vacations without returning more depleted than before departure. The one that doesn’t have to deal with all this shit every day all day and very few people understanding what it’s like. I accept that normal is just a setting on a washing machine, but when one of my most treasured memories is a Mother’s Day from a few years ago when we went to the zoo and for a few hours were a “normal” family, well…I’d like our standard setting to be a little more “normal” and a little less “heavy duty.”
- We 2e parents just want some understanding and acceptance. Our kids aren’t always being rude when they interrupt, their one-track minds have likely gotten over-excited and they simply must share what they know rightthisveryinstant. Our kids aren’t always immature, their executive function abilities are struggling and sputtering like a car in need of a tune-up. And our kids aren’t stupid because they’re gifted and not the top of the class. You have no idea how hard they work every day on the little things that so many others take for granted. Their giftedness masks their disabilities, their challenges hide their giftedness. These kids are damned amazing and they are going to change the world.