Friday, June 4, 2010

A "Gifted" Mom's Heart

Being the mom of a "gifted" kid (Or is it "exceptional"?  Or "talented"?  I don't know what the politically correct word for it is.) can be lonely.  Especially in my small town because I have yet to meet someone in our position.  I know they're out there, I just don't know how to find them.

It's lonely.  It's lonely because it's really, really hard but most other parents don't understand that.  And so, if we talk about our problems, people roll their eyes at us because it can't possibly be that bad and if we talk about something "smart" or "funny" they did, well, we're bragging.  So, because of that, I've not told one mom at school about Will's IQ.  The school moms would be surprised to hear the word gifted when affiliated with Will.  I only talk about it on here and with the people I trust the most... my family and my very closest friends.  And even then I try to guard what I say.  I'm afraid I'll lose the friends I have if I "brag" too much.  Not that I mean to brag... it's just my life and I need to talk about it sometimes.  Or a lot.

We don't fit in with anyone when it comes to Will.  We don't fit in with the special needs families even though he's technically considered special needs.  We don't fit in with the "normal" families.  So I just keep quiet and try not to talk too much about it. 

I've been lucky enough to talk with some moms that have been through it and now have wonderfully successful grown up kids.  That gives me hope.  But from where I sit, at the beginning, it's a terribly daunting place to be.  Our city doesn't have any kind of specialized programing for kids like Will.  They need it, but it's not there.  So, we work with the teacher and the school and hopefully he'll be educated the way he needs.

I'm sitting here with a 350 page manual about teaching gifted kids.  I'm about 10 pages in and have read the mandate for making sure each child is given the appropriate education.  And now, I'm completely overwhelmed.  I'm not an educator.  And even if I read through this book, how is it going to help me?  I mean really. 

I don't feel good enough.

I'm not outspoken enough... and when I try to be, all my words seem to disappear and I have to dumb down what I'm trying to say... which often turns into me not saying what I mean at all.  You read my blog, I do have words that are longer that 4 or 5 letters (right???), but that gets lost quite often when I'm speaking to people.  I hate that about myself.

I'm not tactful enough.  Something else has happened at school this week, which irks me more than I can say, but am I going to say anything?  Probably not.  Why?  Because I don't know how to say it.  And really, it's June.  Is it really worth it?

And besides... why should I have to be the one to make sure he's being challenged???  I'm not the teacher.  I'm the parent, as if that's not challenge enough.

Will's principal is leaving our school.  She got a huge promotion and as excited as I am for her, it's only been since I've talked to her that Will's depression (yes, we found out there's a clinically significant concern that he's depressed) and his ticks (that the school psychologist wants us to see the pediatrician for in case he has Tourette's) and his classroom outbursts have almost disappeared.  Because she changed things.  Amazing how challenging a child in appropriate ways can change things so drastically.

But now that this supportive principal is leaving us... now what?  The next principal may be equally supportive or not.  We might lose everything we've gained this year.  This principal understands that gifted children are not just smart kids, they have special needs too.  Just because Will is "gifted" doesn't mean he already knows everything or that he doesn't need to be taught.  Just because Will's "gifted" doesn't mean he's going to do well in school or be a good student.  Just because Will's "gifted" doesn't mean that he's not still 7 years old.  Life is tough for him.  His peers don't get him.  His teachers don't always make the concessions he needs.  And he sits in class 6 hours per day feeling bored out of his mind.  I know his teacher tries, but she doesn't really understand (I don't think - not really) and I don't know how to show her. 

As part of Willem seeing his therapist, Brian and I are required to meet with her once in a while too.  Partly to discuss issues we might be having to help make things better at home if there are issues and partly to discuss what we can be doing at home to help him.  We met with her today.  We discussed the possibility of maybe having to change schools next year if there's a school better equipped to help him.  It could be done.  It would suck, but I think it could be done, as long as the schools start at different times.  She said she was going to make some calls for us.

Also, I'm in a state of hyper vigillance.  Which basically means I can't relax.  (Probably due to all the "trauma" dealing with Finleigh in the first few years, I guess)  My vagus nerve or something is over agitated all the time.  It thinks there's always danger around the corner or some crap like that.  Which sounds about right.  I was frozen during the crisis of the tubefeeding and all the other stuff and now my body is stuck and trying to deal with it.  She might be able to help me.  That would be good.  I would like to feel normal again.  I haven't felt normal (except for my week away with hubby in March) for a long, long time.

Back to my original topic though... having a gifted kid.  Please don't be too hard on us parents whose kids have tested with exceptional IQ's or have an exceptional talent in one form or another.  Most of us aren't trying to brag, they're just our kid. It's hard not to be able to share our experiences with you.  There's a lot of pressure on us to see that our kids reach their potential.  Or, you know, don't become complete degenerates based on years of feeling alienated by the school system.

I was even toying with the idea the last couple of days of starting a new blog to just talk about Will.  I would call it "Willipedia" (Brian's idea) instead of Wikipedia, cuz you know he loves Wikipedia and he's our resident encyclopedia, just so I wouldn't have to bore you with all my stories about him.  You know, be all braggy and stuff.  But then I thought, darn it.  It's my blog.  It's my life.  If people don't want to read about him, they don't have to.  They can stop reading altogether or they can skip that post.  I feel like I've made enough concessions in my life just raising these kids of mine.  Why should I change my little piece of the Internet too?

So after all this long windedness, I guess what I want to say is, please just know that I'm not trying to be better than you by sharing my story.  I'm just sharing my story.


  1. I know that I would like to hear all about my nephew Willem

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  3. you just keep on talking about Will!! Sometimes I look at Aiden and wonder where the heck his "high I.Q." is hiding... behind his Autism I guess!!

    I want to keep hearing about the good stuff because I KNOW there is a lot of not-so-good stuff too.

    On the school point- couldn't you just change all the kids to the new school so they would all be at the same place?

    You know something funny (in a sad sort of way)? When I read the part about you always waiting for something bad to happen? I thought "ya... because something bad IS going to happen"... apparently I am still in that mode as well. It is always just a matter of time until something stressful happens.

    oh and I love the name Willipedia! You could just name your posts that so it could be used. :)


  4. wish i could somehow help you de-stress!!! remember that it's ok to allow yourself a few minutes for "you" each day! you guys are such fantastic parents, and maybe it will take a bit of time to get in the right "groove" of education for Will (and your other kids for that matter) but it will happen!!!

    love ya manders!

  5. I'm so glad you're sharing all of this - both cuz you need to get it out! and also cuz we need to know what its like to be you - cuz it helps us to understand you and cuz there are probably people like you in our lives too and it helps to know where they're coming from.
    On a side note, William's only going into kindergarten in the fall, but I'm already starting to realize that parenthood is getting harder as he goes into school age, and not easier. ugh.
    I'm looking forward to hearing more about Willem!
    oh, and seriously? i would never think you were bragging about him or that you thought you were better than us... so don't even give it another thought.

  6. I love hearing about Willem!

    love you!

  7. I am a teacher..special ed... please keep in mind that if Will's teacher is not trained in special needs... she probably really doesn't get it... we try... really we do... but will all the STATE testing etc it is so very hard...

    Knowing that you probably have a full are his advocate and yes you probably do need to be the one helping "us" understand.

    In our state local colleges often have summer programs for gifted kids..

    Hang in there!

  8. This website should either have information to help or at least links to things that might help. My oldest is in the gifted program as well - it is fairly well supported in our state (but where we moved from had nothing, so I understand).