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.