A mom is faithful one hundred percent.

I married one of the Lema boys.

According to the stories from my husband and his parents, their boys were known for their smarts and their abilities on the soccer field.

Jose, my brother-in-law, took math classes beyond his grade-level and ruined bell curves in many of the classes he took. Chris went on to graduate from UC Berkeley and has been wildly successful in start-ups and now in public speaking.

These boys had access to Advanced Placement classes and Jose was even able to take some classes at UC Irvine as a high schooler. Even my nephews are smart and the oldest is finishing college early because of all the work he was able to accomplish while in high school.

But, that’s not me.

I grew up in normal classrooms and was never considered the head of the pack. I graduated high school in a rural farming town in which none of the students went straight to a UC. I went to a small, Christian private college that wasn’t accredited until just after I graduated.

I never took an AP class. I didn’t even apply to a UC college. And I certainly was never included in a “gifted and talented” program.

I always say my kids’ apples didn’t fall far from their daddy’s tree. Both of them resemble him and both take after him academically, and if you’ve ever heard Emily give a speech, she sounds just like him!

These kids are mine too.

Have you ever read the book Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss? If you haven’t, or can’t remember the story, let me remind you.

Horton, an elephant, meets a flighty bird who has just laid an egg. She is sitting on this egg waiting for it to hatch, but she is bored and really wants to have a break. She convinces Horton the take over the incubation process while she takes a short rest.

That great big elephant climbs up on that nest and settles in for what he believes will be a short time. What he doesn’t know at the time is that the bird isn’t coming back.

Horton sits and sits, and never gives up. He is loyal to the little egg and despite adverse weather, teasing, and hunters, he refuses to move. He is even transplanted, tree, nest and all and ends up in a traveling circus of sorts. But Horton perseveres. Over and over he states, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent.”

In the end, the bird happens upon Horton, sitting on the egg in the midsts of a circus tent. She decides she wants her egg back and Horton isn’t so sure that’s a great idea. After all, she had abandoned this little egg. Right at that moment the egg cracks open and everyone is surprised to see that an elephant-bird emerges from the shell. This creature is more than half elephant because of the influence of Horton.

Horton is a proud parent!

horton

I am the Horton character in my kids’ lives.

I may not look like them and they may get their intelligence from my husband’s family. I say “may” because Chris regularly says they get more than half of it from me too. Regardless, in the end, they are mine too.

So whether they get their “giftedness” from their dad’s family or not, what I know is a mom says what she means and means what she says. And as a result, these kids are influenced and changed as much by me as they’ve been by their father.

I write this post for you, but also, in reality, for me. As a way to tell my story – to myself. To remind me of the critical role I play in their lives.

Are you a Horton too?

If these kids are so gifted why do they quit so easily?

Sometimes my kids drive me crazy!

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve heard lots of other moms say the same thing about their kids whether they are toddlers throwing tantrums or teenagers being smart-mouthed.

We all struggle in parenting.

One of the things that bothers me about my kids is their strong avoidance of doing anything hard.

As a single elementary teacher, I had visions of what my kids would be like when I had them. I pictured idyllic scenes where we would sit at the kitchen table in the evening and my kids would embrace learning with a passion.

They would happily complete their homework without complaint and read and do extra projects in their spare time.

The reality is much different.

They like things easy

Much of life has been easy for my kids and that is what they embrace with a passion. They like having things come easy. So, when they are faced with something tough, they often balk, whine and want to give up.

Math is almost a bad word in our home.

We do it first thing in the day just to get it over with. This year we opted to put our kids in Stanford University’s Redbird Math program so that the tension between me and the kids would lessen, because whenever we are doing math the whining and arguing begins.

Right now it is my son who is struggling the most.

He is very good at math, but somehow when it comes to learning it he gets confused and will not work to understand it. It is easier to whine and complain and stop trying.

I second guess their giftedness a lot

I have wondered several times if he is actually gifted.

He isn’t getting stuck on a new concept; he is mired in simple facts. We spent thirty minutes on him being stuck working on a simple problem. Yet, days later the Stanford tutor will highlight how well he’s doing for his age.

Emily is also a practiced avoider. She has always been good with words and was able to read early. If she likes a book, she is committed to reading it. The problem arises when she loses interest early in a book and decides she doesn’t want to read the rest of it.

I so want their perseverance to match their giftedness.

So, I end up having to force her to read books. She doesn’t want to do the work of reading enough of a book to give it a chance.

Somehow I have raised kids who struggle to work hard when things get tough.

It’s not just academics. They hate cleaning their rooms, putting dishes away or putting away their clean, folded clothes. These things are “hard” and all of the sudden my gifted children become incapable of simple tasks.

When we engage in conflict over these things I seriously wonder if they’re truly gifted…

But then they do something, give a speech, write something, make an amazing connection between two pieces of literature we have read and I am reminded that they are, in fact, gifted.

The reality is that they’re kids.

Avoiding hard things is instinctual for them. It is our job to teach them the benefits of hard work and perseverance.

So to my parent friends who are raising gifted kids and doing a lot of second-guessing because rooms are unclean, and to those who are frustrated by the lack of perseverance they see in their gifted kids, let me just end with this:

You are not alone.

And yes, gifted kids are still kids. They’ll avoid all sorts of hard work. Which is why they can’t parent themselves.

We still have work to do.

The one book parents of gifted kids should read: NurtureShock

I love to read.

This wasn’t always the case, but I had a friend who spent time with me figuring out my “genre” and once it was found I was hooked. Turns out I love popular fiction. I also can enjoy the occasional thriller or crime mystery. But of all the many books I do enjoy, self-help or non-fiction books do not usually make the list.

I am married to a man who also loves to read.

He reads a lot of informational texts and books about specific topics. To relax he enjoys a fun crime novel, but most of the time he is plowing through business books, books on science, and books about technology.

Chris is the one who has encouraged me to read outside of my comfort zone. If he recommends a book for me I know it won’t be dry or bore me to tears. (For instance, he has never recommended I read a book on quantum physics, even though he finds it fascinating.)

NurtureShock

NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman is just such a book.

This book takes many of the long-held beliefs we have about parenting and children, and turns them on their ear. It was such an interesting and eye-opening read that I’ve recommended it to lots of friends and I believe everyone should read it before becoming a parent.

(It’s so much better that those pre-birth books that scare you half to death!)

There are several ways that we have implemented ideas from this book in our parenting.

Praising kids

For example, the first chapter talks about praising our kids. Having gifted kids means that they are often doing things that are impressive. It is my instinct to tell them how smart they are. We think that as parents it is our job to tell our kids how smart they are.

However, it turns out that telling our kids that they are smart is demotivating. The authors share studies that have been done on how kids react when told they are smart and how kids react differently when being praised for their effort.

By the end we were convinced to never call our kids smart! (Have I failed at that? Well, yes I have. But I can tell you why I shouldn’t have done it!)

Sleep

Another chapter talks about sleep and how important it really is. We know that as parents sleep is good.

But this chapter talks about how our children are actually performing one to two grades lower than their ability when asked to work too early in the morning.

At the time I read this book I was teaching in a public school. Our school day started at around 8 o’clock. This chapter helped me understand those kids who needed to “warm up” in the morning. It is also why we usually start our homeschooling days around 9 o’clock.

Giftedness

The books also deals with giftedness in children. It specifically talks about how kids are identified in elementary schools and how the method by which this is done is missing some of the most brilliant kids out there.

The system needs to be improved based on the latest research on brain development. This book gives some great insights in this area.

The one book every parent of a gifted child should read

It deals with babies, school-age and teens. It talks about siblings, lying, and preschools all while respecting the adults reading the book.

Never once did I feel terrible about how I’d messed my kids up. I simply was inspired to try things a new way.

Each of the ten chapters is riveting and supported by science and research.

If you want something good to read, and you are willing to try something new, try out NurtureShock!

 

Gifted children need different kinds of relationships

I have written a little less this weekend. As a family we got to spend the weekend together in the Sacramento area. Chris was speaking at a WordCamp and it was my dad’s birthday. So, we piled in the car and made the long drive north and we were all excited to spend the weekend with another family in the Word Press world.

Hanging with the Bourns

I was introduced to Brian and Jennifer Bourn at WordCamp Phoenix. Their kids were not there, but Jennifer and Brian shared with my kids their love for legos and my kids were hooked.

Later we got to meet the Bourns at Legoland where Christian got to meet the entire family. Immediately he shared a connection with both kids, but especially with their son. Both boys love Legos and have similar personalities.

Emily was sad because she missed meeting them. Eventually she did meet them and it was a great match! Emily and their daughter became great friends.

Since then we have spent time with them at a beach house in Oceanside and in Cabo San Lucas. It is fun to watch the kids connect and enjoy each other. I think it is rare to find family friends where both parents and all the kids equally enjoy each other.

Being with them isn’t work, it’s just fun!

So far you may be reading this and thinking, “What does this have to do with gifted kids?”

Relationships are tricky for my kids.

Emily struggles with peer relationships.

She finds that she doesn’t often understand kids her age. She would much rather hang out with adults. She will frequently sit in the midsts of the adults and feel like she has the ability to have input into the conversations.

Unfortunately, this is often inappropriate. So, Emily ends up feeling disconnected in social situations.

Christian loves people and wants to play with everyone.

He loves video games, but he doesn’t want to sit in a room playing them alone. He loves to swim, but he doesn’t want to swim in a pool alone. He also loves playing outside, just not alone! He has been known to bribe and beg his sister for a few minutes of playing a video game with him or getting her to have a sleepover with him.

Different Kinds of Relationships

The relationship with the Bourn kids is incredibly valuable.

It is so rare for our kids to have friendships that are low-drama and easy. I can’t tell you how much joy I get watching both kids engaged with other kids in a meaningful way.

I’m watching kids laughing, making art, creating “shows,” and working out conflict through compromise with each other. It’s awesome!

When we started realizing how Emily was wired, we began reading about kids with her abilities. One of the things it emphasized was creating space for our kids to have three different types of relationships.

Age-based Peers

Peer relationships are friendships with kids who are the same age. We have created this through Sunday School and Kung Fu.

Academic Peers

Relationships with kids who are academically the same as our kids is another important group. Each child is in classes at school and outside of school with kids who stimulate them academically. This is also a fairly easy group for us to find.

Gifted Peers

The hardest group to find is the group of kids who are also gifted. Over time this group is slowly growing. I am meeting parents through our charter who are also trying to figure out this unique journey. We have worked to get our kids together. It’s an interesting group because they also deal with sensory, relationship, and emotional issues just like mine. It’s good for them to find kids who are “just like them.”

The Bourn kids are a hybrid.

They are similarly aged, also brilliant, and enjoy similar interests as my kids. This friendship is worth pursuing and encouraging. It is good to learn early that friendships don’t need to be only built on proximity.

When you find friends worth pursuing, you build in, you make choices for, and you grow the relationships strategically.

The sensitivities of gifted children

Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth!

I was so excited to take my little girl to this amazing place.

We had been visiting Palm Springs with my in-laws and the whim hit my husband and I.  We left my infant son with them and Chris and I drove the two hour drive to Anaheim.

The next morning we got up and took our sweet three year old to the Land Where Dreams are Made. When we walked in we observed that lots of little girls were dressed for the day. Little Belles, Ariels and Snow Whites where everywhere.

A Cinderella Dress

It was October and we decided to spend the money and purchase Emily a Cinderella dress. Cinderella was the only princess she knew and she could where the costume at Disneyland and again for Halloween.

There are several stores that cater to parents in our same situation and they were more than happy to sell us a very expensive dress with the warning that “all sales were final.”

We could NOT return this purchase!

No problem! It was an absolutely beautiful dress. Emily would look incredible and it was well made.

I took my sweet little girl into the nearest bathroom where we were both excited to put on this lovely dress. I took her clothes off and began to place the dress on her.

All was good for the first nanosecond until Emily began screaming like she was being murdered.

Everyone in the bathroom assumed she was mortally wounded and I’m pretty sure Chris could hear her outside. So, like any good mother, I reasoned with her and tried again. Emily doubled up her efforts and was able to scream louder than before.

I knew I had to cut my losses.

I didn’t want to be kicked out of the Happiest Place on Earth for abusing my kid. So, I placed her back into her soft, comfy clothes and came walking out of the bathroom.

Chris looked at me questioningly. I explained the scenario. I also made sure everyone knew that this dress WOULD be worn this Halloween!

After sewing a complete cotton lining into that outfit, she did in fact wear that costume on Halloween.

(That is not the only thing I’ve had to line. Apparently every dance costume is made out of the same torturous material! Consequently, she only danced in two recitals before we gave up the art.)

Those darn socks!

That was not the first time Emily had struggled with clothing, however.  Other than the tiny, very slippery socks that are put on infants, Emily has not worn socks.

EMILY. HATES. SOCKS!  With a passion!

I can recall sitting on our stairs with her, trying to get out the door on a day that was in the low 40’s, cajoling her into socks. The first try was never the one that worked. The seam wasn’t right, it hurt her toes, it was slightly twisted, nope, the seam again!  Argh! I tried wearing them inside out, I tried different types of materials, nothing worked.

Just wait…there’s more…

But Emily isn’t the only one of my kids who suffers from sensitivities.  Christian hates loud sounds.  Even as a tiny baby he would cry unconsolably when the noise level got too high.

When he would watch a movie as a family and Christian got scared, he would not cover his eyes, he would plug his ears. Eventually when he got old enough to go to the movie theater, he would always bring his baby blanket so that he could cover his ears.

And we learned that we can never be late to a movie because once the previews had started, Christian would NOT walk into a dark movie theater that was so loud.

He also had his own Disneyland terror and that was when the fireworks were set off.  I have a memory of him being on our good friend Seth’s shoulders to watch the show and Christian spending the entire display with his head buried in Seth’s sweatshirt just waiting for the loud noises to be over.

It’s not just us

I have since read and learned that many gifted kids have sensory challenges.

Our kids clearly have auditory and kinesthetic issues. In a previous post I’ve talked about Emily’s strong sensitivity to strong emotions.

Some of these issues can be debilitating and it is so important for me to know my kids and their limitations.

I know how Christian struggles and that it affects him at school. He cannot concentrate when there is noise. His performance plummets and he will dissolve into a whining, crying mess.

Everyone in our family knows this struggle and on our best days we try and help him be successful by providing him with quiet or giving him headphones to use so he can concentrate.

For Emily, I look for clothes that are tag-less and are soft to the touch. Last year I even found socks that are toe-less. Yep, that’s right, toe-less socks!

We have learned that she can brush her hair in the shower with conditioner on her hair. That lessens the amount of physical pain she feels when her hair is brushed. And I also will ask her to leave the room when Christian is going to be disciplined because she can’t handle the extra emotion in the room.

As parents, we know that each of our kids have idiosyncrasies. Kids come in different shapes and sizes and have varying challenges and issues.

These sensitivities are the physical reminder that even gifted kids have issues. And I’m thankful that they constantly remind me to give grace to every child I interact with, gifted or not.

The truth from a reluctant blogger

I have been reluctant to write a blog for a long time.

My husband writes and he’s really good at it. In fact he written some eBooks and is known for his amazing blog. He is also hailed for his speaking.

My daughter also writes. She is only nine, but as I’ve said, since toddlerhood she’s had the gift of words and vocabulary. She has already been a guest speaker at a Toastmaster’s meeting and is constantly writing, whether for school or for her own enjoyment.

I’ve never considered myself a writer.

I’m the kind that buys a new journal and gets two pages in, only to abandon writing and then discarding the book because it’s embarrassing to have journal entries years apart from each other.

Know what I mean?

I think it’s quaint when people write these amazing letters to their kids and keep journals of all their sweet antics throughout their childhood. I have lots of pictures and some memories, but none really written down.

So, why am I writing a blog?

Well, my husband asked me to.

You see, we have these two kids, Emily and Christian. They are amazing, wonderful, and a challenge.

They are also categorized as “gifted.”

Honestly, I hate that word. It feels pretentious. It feels like a word a bragging parent would use to describe a precocious child.

But apparently there’s an actual thing as a “gifted child.”

Emily is my first born.  As I’ve written about before, she was not typical of most kids I’d known or ever interacted with. Early in her school career I knew we needed help.  In order to get this support I learned that I needed some numbers, some scores, that would help the world define who she was.  One of these scores needed was an IQ score.

IQ’s are interesting numbers.

Most of us don’t know our score in this area. I don’t! But I needed Emily’s number in order to get help. So off we went to the psychologist.

After the testing, Emily was placed into a category.  She was not only gifted, but “profoundly gifted.” What in the world? I’d never heard of that. Not long ago we had Christian also tested. He landed in the “gifted” category as well.

I am a people pleaser.

The last thing I want to do is offend someone.

I refrain from making political comments on Facebook or in polite conversation.

I live in fear of offending anyone and have been known to replay situations in my head as I lay in bed when I feel like I may have actually done this heinous act.

So, imagine writing a blog, especially a blog that is about having kids who are “gifted.”

My husband has owned the URL for this site for a while, but I was dragging my feet on writing about this topic.

The questions would nag at me:

  • What if someone thinks I’m trying sound like I have all the answers?
  • What if people think I’m just bragging about my kids and what they can do?
  • What if someone actually has seen my kids in public acting all of the age that they are (or like a two year old)?

What if? What if? What if?

Truthfully, I don’t want all that drama in my life.

I would prefer to float through life having people love me and enjoy hanging out with me.

I’ve been given these kids for a reason.

They belong to my husband and I, and this is a place where I can share our stories.

It’s been an amazing journey.

But it has also been one filled with mountains and valleys. I am passionate about moms helping each other out along the way.

The truth is, if my story and struggles can help someone else, I have done my job.

I will be honest here in this blog.

I do not have all the answers.

I cry a lot and feel like an imposter. I fear that someone will point at me and say that I don’t know what I’m talking about and ask “who does she think she is?”

Here’s who I am:

I’m a mom who’s trying to raise two exceptional children.

I’m trying the best I can and I know that collectively we are stronger than separate.

Join me on this journey?

Routines help gifted kids

It was a Tuesday morning and my kids and I were trying to get out the door to our Latin and writing classes.

Tuesdays are particularly hectic because not only are we at these classes from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, which requires us to bring lunches for all three of us, but we have to be at Kung Fu, in the neighboring city by 4:30 – 4:30 is when they have to be changed into a uniform, in sparring gear and ready to roll.

Read that again. It’s one sentence. Does that tell you enough about Tuesdays?

That morning we weren’t feeling it

In fact, we were snapping at each other and the kids were having a hard time finding parts of uniforms and homework assignments.

I was getting grumpier by the second and the kids were following suit. Eventually we were all blaming each other and feeling stressed out and the day had only just begun.

As we drove to class, I took the opportunity to reflect upon what had just happened.  We brainstormed ways to remedy the situation for the following weeks.

With a few prompts we all decided that creating a routine would help us.

I am happy to say that now we begin preparing for Tuesdays on Monday afternoon.

We have made a routine

The kids have two bags to pack, one for school and one for Kung Fu.

When they get home from school on Mondays, they are to empty their backpacks and repack them with the binders needed for Latin and writing.

They are to check that their homework is finished and that the pages are stapled appropriately.

Next they pack their Kung Fu bags.

This step is tricky and I have held a boundary of not packing this bag for them.

They know what they need and are to pack each important piece of the uniform.  (They have forgotten integral parts, like pants and t-shirts.  I have held a strong boundary and not “saved” them by running home and grabbing the forgotten items.)

Lunch packing has become a group effort.

We are in a much happier place when we do this part of the routine and we enjoy doing it together.

This routine is fairly new.

We are still working out the kinks, but each week the routine gets tighter and cleaner.  The kids see the benefit of the routine and know that they do not want to return to the out of control mornings that once were happening.

Routines have helped us from the beginning

If I think about it, routines have been important for us since the beginning.

Early in their development I set them on routines for sleep and for eating. I’d read a book called “On Becoming Baby-wise” and it made sense to me.

My kids took to the routines well. We fed the kids on waking up, played for a bit and then I taught them to self-soothe to sleep.

Later, we had a strong bedtime routine that included dinner, quiet play, bath, snuggles, books read together and then lullabies while we rocked before being put into bed awake, but drowsy.

The kids knew where the routine was leading and by the time they were placed into bed there was rarely any fuss.

Predictability helps gifted kids

The predictability of routines seemed to really benefit my kids.

I’ve been using them from the beginning and when things are starting to fall apart that is one of the things I look at first.  Do we need a new routine or does the routine we have need to be tightened up or changed?

In fact, we just had to adjust our bedtime routine to work for my growing children.  We always read together at night.  We love that time together.  Then I would send the kids up to brush their teeth and do whatever else needed to be done in the bathroom before they were tucked into bed and prayed for.

Just recently, however, the kids started fighting in the bathroom.  We had a meeting and decided that this routine wasn’t working anymore.

The routine has changed so that neither child is upstairs in the bathroom at the same time, and we are all happier for it.

Lots of kids and adults benefit from routines.  Kids with sensory issues, fast processing speeds and strong emotions seem to really require routines to help them interact and succeed in life.

You’re not alone

Today I got to have coffee with a new friend.

I was introduced to her because she has a child who is similar to mine.  Her little guy is only four and they are getting ready to embark on the daunting journey of finding an educational program that works for their particular child.

I was excited to have this conversation.

The idea of helping someone along the path is something I really value. Throughout my tenure as a mother I’ve looked to others for advice and ideas on how to do this thing called parenthood. Especially with kids like mine.

I thought I knew what I was getting into

You see, when Emily was a baby I read lots of books.  I knew stages of development and milestones we could expect.  I understood that each child was unique, but most followed a structure of growth that was fairly predictable.

However, Emily didn’t exactly follow that path.

She made physical milestones along the way and was growing into a healthy baby, but there were other ways that I observed that she was different.

Emily loved books from a young age. She would sit on her nursery floor and “read” these books, page by page.

She was 10 months old.

Her favorites were books with other babies. We bought her books to help learn baby signs. It’s sign language for babies that can’t yet talk.

She took to baby signs like it was a life-line.  She meticulously looked at the books.  On each page she would look at the baby doing the sign and she would do one of two things.  She would either make the sign, because she knew it, or she would look at me and expect me to make the sign for her so she could learn it.

By the time we went to her sixteen month check up the doctor asked me how many words she knew. I will never forget the shock he had when I said that she had upwords of 150 vocabulary words under her belt.

There wasn’t a single idea that she thought that we couldn’t understand.  She was stringing together multiple signs in order to make complete sentences.

That was one of the first times I realized my girl was different.

My kids weren’t like other kids (and it was frightening)

She didn’t match the other kids.

Everyone is smart. Everyone had great and shining moments of brilliance. Emily just had them, when it came to words, writing, and logic, faster and more often every. single. day.

But there is a flip side to having kids who are gifted.

She was also impaired by extreme emotions.

Emily had another board book with baby faces in it.  You know the kind that teaches about emotions.  One baby was “happy,” another was “sleepy,” and still another was “mad.”  Emily loved that book.

But without fail, every time we turned to the page of the “sad” baby, Emily broke into uncontrollable sobs.  She couldn’t stop. Not just for a minute. For more than half an hour! It was as if the feelings from that baby infiltrated straight to my little girl’s soul.

Since then we have noticed that whenever she is in a room with strong emotion, no matter what it is, she is affected.  She cannot tell where her emotions stop and someone else’s begins.  She becomes whatever emotion is strongest.

She struggles with socks too!

Another adverse affect of Emily’s abilities is her aversion to certain “feels.”  Tags have always been an issue.  Socks cannot be worn due to the seam in the foot. This isn’t a simple dislike of clothing, this is a fight tooth and nail that can last more than an hour. For socks!

We’ve been on a journey

Throughout our time of having Emily we have been told how lucky we are to have a child with high abilities.  I totally agree.  We are blessed to have Emily. She is truly a gift, as all children are.

She is a blessing with a lot of issues.  Since her babyhood we have dealt with sensory issues, peer relationship issues, and issues with uncontrolled anxiety, fear and nightmares.

I do not know what it is like to have an easy child.  I do not know what it is like to have a child with disabilities.  I do know what it is like to have gifted children.

It isn’t the charmed existence that it may appear to be on the outside.

That’s why I’m writing this blog, along with my husband.  We are ten years into this journey.  We are far from done, but we are, perhaps, half way there.

There are others who have kids who are amazing and also completely frustrating in the same moment.

Parents who want to share that their three year old is writing complete sentences or reading chapter books, but feeling like it may come across as bragging.

The reality is that, without many people talking about it, parenting these kinds of kids is scary. It’s stressful. And there’s one feeling that you have more than any other:

You’re alone in this.

And that is a lie from the pit of hell.

Parents who are up until all hours of the night with a child who just never sleeps or parents who struggle with kids who won’t wear certain clothes. Or parents who deal with verbally gifted kids who debate for hours. Or the parents of empathetic kids crying all the time.

This blog is for you.

I want you to know, you are not alone.

My husband and I are on the journey with you. And we want to help in every way we can.

Let’s have coffee.

I love having coffee. But even more than that, I love the conversations I have while drinking my coffee. Like today’s. It was so great to be able to tell someone else, “that’s actually normal.” It’s not normal in the big sense of the word, but it’s normal for us.

Are you in that spot? Let me know. Maybe we can have coffee.

 

Successful adults for a lifetime

I have two kids.

Both of them are significantly gifted in many ways.  Emily is almost ten and Christian is eight.  Both of them think fast, have strong wills and use amazing vocabularies.

Kids like this bring lots of joy to parenting.  It is fun to watch them learn things and take this new learning to places you never thought they could go.  There are times when my pride is bursting and I am filled with wonder by who they are becoming.

Except when their ability to think fast and process quickly and negotiate well works against me.

The joy I felt can change to incredible frustration fairly quickly.

Both of my children take classes through Stanford University’s Gifted and Talented program.  Emily takes math and language arts through them and my little guy just takes math.

This program allows them to move at their own pace and we have access to a tutor who is able to help them through the rough patches and help me navigate our educational path.

“I’d like to talk…”

Last week my son and I had our first one on one meeting with our tutor.  Her first words in this meeting were, “I’d like to talk about what happened yesterday.”

These are not the words any mom wants to hear from her child’s teacher or tutor.

Apparently, my son had figured out how to skip complete units of math in record amounts of time.  I watched in horror as she showed me in screen-shot form all the blank questions that Christian had skipped.

The next day was Thursday.

That’s the day I lost it

I happen to lead a Women’s Bible study that day and my homeschooled kids tag along and help out in the nursery.  This is all on the agreement that they will diligently get their schoolwork done when we get home.

However, more often than not, this schoolwork comes with complaining and whining and it drives me nuts!  I do not sound like a happy mom and they do not sound like gifted and engaged children.  We all sound really out of control.

Well, last Thursday (they day after the Stanford “skip my math” incident) I lost it.

It wasn’t pretty, to be honest.

I screamed and yelled and wasn’t someone who I ever envisioned I’d be when I wanted children so badly ten years ago.

Emily couldn’t find her pants for Kung Fu.  Christian had whined his head off about math and every other type of assignment I’d asked him to day and I finally snapped.

Have you ever had that moment?

The kids are building off the energy of each other and they have found that proverbial button on a mom, any mom, and they start pushing and pushing and getting more and more carried away until you finally come unwound?

Yeah, just me, right?

I am embarrassed of how I acted, but I am thankful for the results.

While my kids did Kung Fu, which lasts for two and a half hours on a Thursday afternoon and evening, I had a lot of time to think.  During dinner, which occurs part way through that period, I had time to apologize for my behavior, but I also had time to start building a small boundary.

Boundaries are everything

Most every Thursday night I give in to my kids and take them where ever they want to go.

But I really wanted Indian food.  I told them that and my daughter looked at me and said, “Well, I think I should eat something I like since that is so important for my Kung Fu.”

I responded with strength, but not meanness.

I held my line and ate my Indian food while they ate at a restaurant right next door.

Maybe that isn’t a big step and it may sound insignificant, but my girl looked at me and said, “Wow, that fight really affected you.”

I informed them over dinner that things were going to be different.  I couldn’t allow them to grow up with disrespect for me, for education, or for their friends.

I told them things would be changing.

And they have…I’m not perfect, but I’m trying my hardest to hold the line.

Boundaries are so important.  

I want my daughter to negotiate well, but with respect for authority.  And I want my son to use his ingenuity to figure out ways to solve problems, but not to hack systems for his own gain.

Preparing kids for the path, not the other way around

This summer I attended a conference for parent educators at our Charter School. The keynote speaker challenged us to “prepare our kids for the path, not the path for our kids.”

For too long I have been shaping the path.  I make it easier.  I help correct problems before they make the mistake.  I give in to their food wishes more often than I care to admit and I allow them to talk to me in ways that are disrespectful.

I can no longer do this.

The world will not have patience for this and I am doing them a disservice.  I love them too much not to hold strong boundaries.

Things are going better.

I just need to daily remind myself of the goal: amazingly successful adults for a lifetime, not happy kids for a moment.