Thursday, July 30, 2015

I'll stick with you

A couple days ago my husband and I took all three kids to the wading pool. As we walked up to the pool I heard my son, P, tell my daughter, "Remember, don't go by the middle of the pool where the other kids are."

"Don't tell her that," I protested. "She can go where she wants and go by whoever she wants."

"But the other kids splash too much and it scares me!" P protested.

"Well, then you can play on your own," I said, "but you have to let E make her own friends."

Then E sidled up to P and said quietly, "Don't worry P, I'll stick with you."

This isn't the first time E has sacrificed playing with other kids in favor of playing with P. On the playground she refuses to play with her classmates in the mornings and afternoons because she insists on hanging out with her brother. Truth be told, he doesn't really have other friends and school is stressful for him, so he could probably use the support. However, I know it keeps her from socializing with kids her own age. She mentioned once that she didn't have any friends in her class because they wanted to play with her but not P, and when I said that she should make friends her own age she shrugged and said, "I'm fine with it."

I don't want her to sacrifice her own friendships to support P. Supporting P isn't her job. And yet, sometimes I wonder how much of a sacrifice it is. She and P make up amazing imaginary stories and games with complex rules, and she keeps up with him surprisingly well considering she's two years younger. Maybe she feels that she's more in step with him than she is with kids her own age.

I know that eventually they'll each find their own way. I suppose that in the meantime there are worse things than two siblings who stick with each other.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Drinking

I had each of my kids two to three years apart, so between pregnancy and breastfeeding there wasn't much time for me to have my body to myself. As a result, I stopped drinking. I wasn't a super-heavy drinker before, but I stopped even having a wine cooler on a Saturday night. I lost my tolerance, and drinking wasn't as fun when one bottle of hard lemonade made me loopy. So even after I weaned my toddler, C, I avoided alcohol. I have nothing against it, it just didn't fit well into my life right now.

And then we had P. And P endured this past school year, and at several points throughout the year I thought, This is it. This is the turning point. Here's where it gets better.

And it never did.

And then he went through his special ed evaluation, and had IQ testing, and we found out that he wasn't autistic, but gifted. And again I thought, Okay, now we know what's up. Now we can help him.

But then I started reading blogs and websites about raising gifted kids. I really thought that it would basically be parents saying to each other, "High five! Our kids are brilliant!" But it wasn't...and I quickly found out that P's school experience is not uncommon. And it might not be a one-time experience for him, just a poor fit between student and teacher that would be nothing but a distant memory by next October. This was our life now.

So guess who's back in the alcoholic saddle.

My daughter is fascinated by my "fancy glass that you can use to tap other glasses at fancy dinners." My son informed me that if this was medieval times, I could get put in the pillory for drinking. It's just one glass of wine after the kids are settled in bed, but something tells me that this will be a consistent item on our grocery list every week.

Get used to the sight of it, kids. Little C is only two years old, so we'll have at least sixteen years more of this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Introductions

Who makes their introductions about eight entries into their blog? Oh yeah, ME.

My name is Christine. I'm a speech pathologist working in a school district. I love my job and I don't know what else I would do with my life. In my spare time I sew, knit (poorly), take photos (very poorly), and blog.

I'm married to a wonderful man named Mike. If you meet him, you'll know where our kids get their smarts. He's a stay at home dad and his hobbies include reading about everything and anything, playing music, and building guitars.

We have three kids.

Our oldest is our son, P. P loves science and building, and on any given week he's completely consumed with...some topic. It varies. Lego, Minecraft, fossils, geology, evolution, astronomy...he's always reading and learning about something. He's also super-quirky.

Or next child is our daughter, E. E is very smart, fiery, headstrong, and can read people like a book. She will be our President someday. Or our dictator. Either way, she'll do a fine job.

Our youngest is a toddler, our daughter, C. C is going to keep up with her siblings at all costs. She will have an awesome time at all costs. She is going to seize the day and wring every drop of joy out of it and then use the day's empty husk as a surfboard. It's hard to be in a bad mood around C.

We also have three cats. Our house is crowded and chaotic but I'm so happy to be a part of this family.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Before I knew my son was gifted, I didn't think much about gifted education. I acknowledged that sure, gifted kids should be challenged and educated at their ability level, but as far as advocating for that...meh. My professional interests lay in special education, on the other end of the bell curve. My students can't talk, or tie their shoes, or cross the street safely. They need help. Ultimately, wouldn't the smart kids be fine?

I'm starting to realize that the smart kids won't be fine, at least not if their experience is like my son's.

Think back to the last truly boring meeting you had at work. The last boring, mind-numbing meeting. Remember how you felt? Were you frustrated? Even angry?

What if you had to go to that meeting all day, every day?

That is what school is like for my son.

Here's what "gifted" looks like at my house:

It's kid who says he's sick every single morning before school. At first he was just feigning sick, but after awhile he was genuinely feeling ill with anxiety.

It's a kid who cries on Sunday nights at the daunting thought of having another five days at school.

It's a kid who has no close friends because none of his interests overlap with kids his age.

It's a kid whose emotions are so strong that he sometimes gets swept up and acts out, and at the time he's feeling the most vulnerable and out of control, all his teachers do is punish, yell, or send him into the coatroom.

It's a kid who is chosen last. Always. For everything.

It's a kid who can't show his best abilities because he can't do his work exactly like his teacher says.

It's feeling my stomach sink whenever my phone at work rings because I'm afraid it's his principal calling again.

It's analyzing every single communication I have with the school because, at this point, things are so contentious that I hesitate to email or call for something as benign as birthday treats or asking if the nurse can give medication.

It's clocking more hours sitting in meetings with my kid's principal than in meetings with my own school administrators.

It's my kid spending one session with a Gifted & Talented itinerant teacher, and suddenly he's skipping off to school eagerly looking forward to their next session.

I hate it and it's unfair. And suddenly, I'm much more in favor of gifted education than I ever was.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Right question, wrong time

It's 9:30 PM.

Me, to son: You have to go to sleep. Seriously. It's late. No more questions.
Son: Okay Mom. (nanosecond pause) Hey Mom?
Me: Can this wait until morning?
Son: No.
Me: Okay, what is it?
Son: How is it that water can put out fire, when fire burns grass, and grass can stand up to water?
Me: (trying not to bang head into wall)

I did explain it to him. This is something I struggle with as a parent. He says things that are so insightful, so delightfully bright, but at the wrong time. Like when he should be going to sleep. Or during class. Or while I'm explaining why he should clean his room. And I want to recognize his intelligence and revel in it a bit (because, honestly, it's really a fun part of parenting him), but at the same time I want to recognize that his timing is inappropriate. I want to foster and encourage his inquiry, but I also want him to be able to navigate and get along in a world that isn't enchanted by his intellect.

I also want him to go to sleep by 9:30 PM, because by that time, I am ready to be off the parenting clock and curling up with some ice cream and mindless TV.