It’s been a while since I’ve written a post – any post – on my children’s giftedness or twice exceptionalism. Which is mildly ironic, considering that’s the actual name of my blog. And by a while, I mean … months? A year? A very long while. Which I am done apologizing for, simply because our lives took a wrong turn down the alley of “Wildly Uncertain” and then made a screaming U-turn onto the highway of “I’m Desperately Hanging on for the Ride.”
All of that to say this: my kids are still gifted. Nothing about *that* part of them has changed, even as legs lengthen, personalities intensify, and the teen years loom closer and closer. No, the whole set of intensities, quirks, and off-the-wall thinking never left. In fact, I would say that the kids have become even less stereotypical in how their gifted/2e minds work.
There are numerous blogs, posts, studies, articles, podcasts, videos, you name it – on the subject of giftedness and what it is. And I’m no expert. I’m simply a parent with an intense, curious mind trying to raise three kids with their own intense, curious, quirky, oddball minds. However, I do know this: my kids’ minds do not work the same as an average kid’s mind. Not better, not worse, just … different.
At this stage in our lives, giftedness looks like extreme emotional intensity. Rabid independence. A seriously frustrating belief that logic and negotiation (or flat out arguing) will change situations from a disliked scenario to a preferred activity or outcome. A rigid inflexibility and sense of justice. Which is just GREAT when you have competing inflexibility and justice viewpoints.
All of these are classic giftedness symptoms, if you will. And all of these clash miserably in our family life, our schoolwork, and our personal interactions. That’s not even including the whole *E* part of the 2e equation – our family’s mental health struggles that frequently bring me to my knees.
In fact, if I had to spell it out, the absolute worst parts of giftedness are what’s on display in my home these days. I wouldn’t wish this experience on any parent. Sure, there are positive bits about giftedness – my 8 year old grasped division and using a multiplication table to figure out division answers in 5 minutes flat while I was helping his sister, but we had to go through a massive meltdown about math to get to that point. And we have that math meltdown EVERY day!
Smart means jack sh*t when a kid can’t function enough just to get to the point of using their brain academically.
I’ll admit, I’ve shied away from even posting about giftedness lately because, frankly, that whole imposter-syndrome-by-parent beast reared its ugly head and screamed “YOUR KID ISN’T GIFTED ANYMORE!” And even though I know that’s not true, it sure looks that way if you’ve absorbed society’s “Young Sheldon” version of giftedness.
So, if you need to hear this today, I’ll share what I’m telling myself: your kid is still gifted even if they no longer resemble the precocious toddler they may have once been. They still need challenges, academic accommodations, supports, and mental health support because – key point here – they KNOW they’re different. They know their brain works differently than their friends or classmates. And for most kids, different means … bad.
We parents know better, but subconsciously we still think in those same social patterns that were beaten into us as kids ourselves – fit in or be a social outcast. For our kids, who struggle with those same social expectations and couldn’t fit in if they tried, being different is overwhelming and a huge struggle. And sometimes it can be lethal. Especially for teens.
Mental health matters. And if you even THINK your kid needs help, don’t wait. It’s hard to find mental health support for kids these days, so start early. Start before you reach crisis mode, because by then, you’re picking up the pieces instead of learning tools.
Be well, friends. And give yourself some grace. Parenting gifted kids is HARD!