Saturday, February 27, 2016

Exclusion

This week P was admitted to our district's gifted and talented magnet school. I'm excited, but still a little worried that it won't be a good fit. I suspect that he won't fit perfectly anywhere, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but I think it will be better than anything else available to us.

The school can be described as "exclusive," and I don't really mean in a complimentary way...I mean it in the most literal sense. As in, it's a school that excludes kids. I was told that each year roughly 400 kids apply for 100 spots. So, about 75% of kids will have to find another school for the fall. Working in the district means that I hear things about schools, and not everything I hear about the magnet school is complimentary. There are some people that complain that the premise of having an exclusive school is a bad one, and that in a public system all opportunities should be open to all students. Or that it's easy for the magnet school to do cool programs and have high achievement when they skim the brightest kids from the other schools.

Some people think it's unfair to have exclusive schools.

I would like to point out, though, that in its own way, my son's neighborhood school is exclusive.

Even after I found out that P was bright I didn't want to send him to the magnet school. I wanted him to be at his neighborhood school with his sisters and the kids in his Cub Scout troop and the other kids who live around here. I wanted him to finish 8th grade in the same building he started Kindergarten. But every time I've sat down to have a meeting with the school's staff this year they've pointed out that the neighborhood school is a poor fit. That other schools have openings. That I could move him. They weren't doing it in a kind-hearted way, either...they just didn't want to deal with him.

So yes, I'm sending my son to an exclusive school. But that's only because he was excluded first.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Connection

When P was diagnosed as being gifted I talked with a woman who had two kids who were older and gifted. This was back when I thought that being gifted was all high-fives and fist bumps because you're brilliant. She painted a much different picture.

"Read about it," she said. "You'll cry because you'll see your son in those books. Get a therapist for him. You'll need it sooner rather than later. Get him into the gifted magnet school. It won't be perfect because nothing will be perfect, but it will be closer than anything else. And find things to do together. Eventually he'll know more than you and think about completely different things than you can understand, and you won't be able to talk anymore. He won't connect with people from that level, even you." I walked away from that conversation thinking, Well, that's depressing. She's wrong, though. Just because it happened that way for her kids doesn't mean it will happen that way for mine.

Now I think she may have been psychic. I've read a lot about giftedness and my emotions have run the gamut from scared, to ecstatic at finding others in the same boat as me, to depressed. Right now P is in OT, but I think the next stop may be a mental health therapist to help him get a handle on his emotions and social skills. And already he talks on and on and on and on about topics I just don't know anything about. Right now he's happy if I nod and ask questions, but at some point he'll want a reciprocal conversation rather than just an audience.

I love my sweet son, the little boy who stays up late so he can snuggle up to me and talk. I don't want to lose my connection with him.

Today I was helping P sift through the toys in his room to find one particular Transformer. I was pawing through the layers of stuff on his desk - does he REALLY need the Halloween coloring sheet and the random tree branches he found last fall? - and I found two notes I'd written him. Twice this year he decided to take a cold lunch and I put a little note in his lunchbox...just a quick, "I love you, have a great day!" He kept both of them.

Maybe he wants that connection as much as I do.

So I'll keep searching for ways to get through to my little guy. And maybe when he gets older he'll still want me to be his audience, just for the sake of talking with me.