5 THINGS THAT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU ABOUT MY LIFE WITH EXTRAORDINARY CHILDREN:
1. We cry A LOT in this house.
A few years ago, the wind swirled the air like a crazy late September hurricane. In the car-rider line at school, I opened the door to let my daughter out and her science review sheet flew into the oncoming traffic. I tried to catch the flying paper, but the wind won…and it was quickly out of eyesight. She knew the material–we studied every night for at least a week. But, my oldest daughter possesses a strong attachment to THINGS. To most EVERY thing. She cares DEEPLY and she cries INTENSELY. She cries for the homeless. She cries for orphans. She cries for shelter animals. She cries when people cheat. She cries when something breaks. And yes…she cries for review sheets…for 25 minutes…sobbing…in the school parking lot…completely devastated.
We cry a lot.
My youngest daughter, LOVES Elvis Presley and of course, she understands that he died years ago. However, after watching a 4 hour documentary that ended with footage of his casket, my daughter was inconsolable. Hyperventilating. Crying out in pure pain and sorrow. That session lasted a few hours.
Did I mention we cry a lot in this house?
I can think of at least 213 overly emotional stories. The day my husband sold his car. The day my oldest daughter learned she was too young to get married. The time she sobbed because she didn’t know about the permits needed to build an orphanage. A dead butterfly on the driveway…
Moments like this happen every day. Several times a day.
I cry, too. My children require a SUPER MOM…there is NO down time and I worry about my inability to meet their unique needs. I am ordinary. I am tired.
This extreme parenting is sometimes just too overwhelming.
Please understand…our house is NOT a sad house. My girls are just intense. Emotionally intense. They FEEL things and experience life on a plane of intensity unfamiliar to my ordinary emotions. It’s just the way it is.
2. We still nap.
A big shocker to most outsiders is that my 11 year old desperately needs a daily nap and my life semi-revolves around that schedule as if she was still 3 months old. That child barely sleeps at night. Her mind races and spins and dances and wreaks havoc all over this family. A mid-day nap is an essential part of her survival and ability to function. On the weekends and during summer vacation, BOTH girls take naps. Active brains need rest.
3. We are on a time limit.
With all her 5 senses, my youngest absorbs and filters up to 200% more information than the average person. I assume my other daughter falls somewhere on that spectrum as well. That’s a lot of stimuli. If we are in a visually stimulating, academically engaging environment, time is ALWAYS ticking. They can only take in so much before the migraines begin. One daughter gets overwhelmed. The other gets grouchy. AND, they shut down. Time to go home!
A challenging environment with crowds, loud noises, weird smells, or extreme temperatures causes severe anxiety. I try to stay ahead of the meltdowns and some days, I successfully read the signals. Other days, I fall victim to the chaos and suffer the consequences right along with my daughters.
4. We are lonely.
My girls do not receive many birthday party invites. There are no playdates. No sleepovers. No phone calls from friends. And yes, my daughters still play.
At this moment in time, my daughters PREFER to play with each other. I think they feel more at ease and can be themselves without feeling odd or weird or different.
I am lonely, too. There are very few people I can honestly talk to without sounding boastful. Negative judgements, strong opinions and criticisms come next. Everyone gets a fraction, a small segment of the truth. And, my social calendar belongs to my children. Their needs come first.
5. School and academics are NOT always easy.
It is an assumption (an incorrect one) that gifted children need very little to be successful in school. Though my 11-year-old has powered through four years of math in 6 months and is about to complete her second semester in college, she struggles to remember to capitalize the first letter of a sentence.
My 13-year-old won the school and homeschool spelling bee and reads on a post college level, but failed the district reading benchmark test back in the day because her concrete mind can not process inferences or assumptions. She DOES NOT understand sarcasm, joking or teasing. She is a black and white thinker. Right or wrong. When it comes to reading comprehension, if the answer is not stated in the reading passage, she is utterly LOST.
This brings me to the evil lurking behind a profoundly gifted label: It is called Asynchronous Development. And, I HATE it.
Asynchrony is the state of not being synchronized. (Who came up with THAT definition?)
Essentially, it presents itself as uneven development in gifted kids. Hence, the need to homeschool. We constantly remind ourselves (and others) that just because my daughters are advanced academically, it DOES NOT mean they are years ahead socially or emotionally…and certainly not physically.
Asynchrony is confusing and frustrating and challenging. Both girls suffer and excel at the hands of their asynchronous development. It makes traditional schooling and most learning situations very difficult.
If given the opportunity, especially if presented on a particularly challenging day, I would probably change all of this…if I could. IF I could pick and choose WHICH aspects stayed and which ones disappeared, I would jump at the chance to lessen the burden for my daughters. YES I WOULD–in a heartbeat!
BUT, the over excitabilities and asynchronous development are part of a package deal. They all go hand-in-hand with the profoundly gifted diagnosis. I don’t get to pick and choose…and neither do my girls. It is part of who they are and my job is to teach them how to manage and cope with ALL aspects of their abilities.
We choose to embrace the positive AND the negative, for without one there is NO balance or appreciation for the other.
It IS what makes them extraordinary.