Yesterday we had a department-wide meeting for the department I work for. One odd thing about working in the district that my kids attend in is that there is some overlap between my mom-life and my professional life. I email my kids' teachers from my work account because I can search for their emails in the district directory. I grouse about the new computer system with my kids' teachers at parent-teacher conferences. And yesterday I saw the speech pathologist who evaluated my son for autism, and helped discover that he was gifted.
She asked how his school year was going, and how his summer was. To be honest, it was probably one of the best summers of his life. For the first time we let go of what he "should" be doing - the daily park visits, pool excursions, and tearing around the yard that kids his age usually crave. Instead, we followed the interests of all three kids. We spent so much time in museums and libraries this summer. I also insisted that the kids get outside to get exercise, but for us that walks around the neighborhood or hikes in the woods rather than tearing around a playground. We did spend some playground time and sometimes the kids got into it once we were there, but if they didn't, that's okay.
This summer P was so much happier than he'd been in a long time. And we found that his sensory seeking behaviors and tantrums decreased. Meanwhile he was more outgoing, flexible, and willing to try new things. He blossomed because he was finally spending his days doing what made him happy.
People talk about nurturing their child's gifts. I suppose we should too, for all three of our children. But right now we're just concentrating on making our kids happy. And for all three of our kids that means the voracious consumption of information. Tonight I was sitting with the kids at dinner and asked them what they wanted to do tomorrow (Sunday) and the toddler threw her arms into the air and said, "Moo-see-um!" Both her siblings chimed in with, "Yeah, museum!"
We're not being pushy, we're making them happy.