Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ships and boats and gifted adults

Since my son was identified as gifted in June I've spent a lot of time reading up and learning about it. And in the process, I've started to see myself more and more in the descriptions of gifted kids. It makes sense...I guess, technically, I'm gifted too.

My dad was a psychologist before he retired. When he was practicing he tested my IQ, and as a grad student he tested the IQs of his parents and siblings. He said that everyone's IQ was clustered in the upper 120s and lower 130s. And if we're using 130 as a clinical cut-off, well, I'm just a couple points above that line. My dad never told me until I was in college and took an IQ test online. My dad commented that he was surprised that the score was accurate. Still, I never really considered myself "smart" because my grades weren't the highest and I struggled with math. Still, knowing what I know now, I think I was gifted. Am gifted, I suppose. It's weird to think about.

People talk about my son and his giftedness like it's an automatic ticket to success and happiness. I wish. I'm not going to lie, being smart has its advantages, and it's not a huge burden to bear like cancer. But it's not always entirely a good thing. Or, at least, it hasn't been for me.

About a week ago I was reading with my son and I found out the difference between ships and boats. Ships go on saltwater, and boats go on inland waterways. I was immediately intrigued by that. I thought back to instances of hearing about boats and ships. Had books and magazines always used the terms correctly? You hear about shipwrecks but never boatwrecks! What about the huge Great Lakes vessels, were those still just boats? What about the Edmund Fitzgerald, was that a boat? Or was it a ship because it could conceivably go on the ocean? COULD it even go on the ocean? It was big enough...wasn't it? Was this boat vs. ship terminology even correct? My mind went on and on and on, playing with this new information.

The next day at work I was eating lunch with my co-workers and during a lull in conversation I almost busted out this new boat vs. ship knowledge but I stopped just in time because NOBODY CARES. And in that moment I felt so sad because this knowledge that I had entertained myself with for a good half an hour was worth absolutely NOTHING to everyone else, and I felt so different. As if everyone else hangs out in this bubble of common interests and thought patterns, and I can sit near it, but not inside.

I know that everyone has interests that they don't discuss except with fellow enthusiasts...people don't discuss their motorcycles at length with people who don't ride, or go over dozens of pictures of their dog when they're with cat people. We all adjust our conversations for the audience. And yet, I feel like I have to do it more. Nobody cares about the tree down my block whose leaves are the exact color of fire, nobody wants to read Wikipedia all day, nobody would stop flipping channels to watch a documentary on ANYTHING, who cares what it is.

I hope my kids don't grow up feeling like they're always on the outside of the bubble.

And for what it's worth Wikipedia refers to the Edmund Fitzgerald as a ship.

Friday, October 16, 2015


It's only October but I've already put two measures into place to keep my sanity with my son's school situation:

1. Asking my husband to drop him off once or twice a week, so I can have a couple mornings a week where I don't feel sick to my stomach on the way to work because I had to drive away and leave him at that place.

2. Seeking out other schools.

It's still up in the air about whether we'll pull him from his current school this year, but next year it's an absolute. We have to find him someplace else. So far we've had one option and it's been incredibly stressful for me to think about what would happen if he wasn't accepted to that school, but this week we found another school which could be very good for him. And they want him.

It would be awesome to have him in a school that wants him.

I don't believe that God communicates with us constantly via signs. Some people believe that every little occurrence is a sign, and I'm just not on board with it. If I believed that, then last night when the chain snapped on the cross necklace I wear constantly it would be a very bad sign indeed. And yet, I think sometimes signs are real. And I think yesterday I may have gotten one.

Yesterday a colleague of mine called with information about that second school that might be good for my son. It's a neighborhood school, but it's small and high-achieving and they're excited at the prospect of taking on the challenge that is my son...at least so far. Before I started my commute home I left a message for the principal to call me so we can talk. As I drove home there was a mix of sunshine and rain, and as soon as I turned my car east down the street that leads to my house I saw a giant rainbow across the gray sky, and these lyrics came through the stereo speakers:

Howling ghosts they reappear in mountains that are stacked with fear,
But you're a king and I'm a lionheart.

And in the sea that's painted black, creatures lurk below the deck
But you're a king and I'm a lionheart.

And as the world comes to an end, I'll be here to hold your hand
Because you're my king and I'm your lionheart.

Sweet little boy, I'll always fight for you. Someday we'll find a place for you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Shut out

Things have gotten a little heated between me and my son's school. I've gotten the message to back off and let one of the district staff act on my son's behalf, and so I will. But before I got that message I had arranged to observe my son's classroom. So, I kept my appointment, even though I felt like it was kind of futile.

So today I spent two and a half hours sitting on the sidelines in my son's room. I saw everything the school says - he doesn't finish his work, he's out of sync, his social skills are behind - and I saw everything that I anticipated - he's bored, he hates the work, he craves conversations about ideas, he loves to read and learn. Once I felt like I had seen enough I quietly thanked the teacher, who was busy with transitioning groups of kids, and walked out. I was supposed to meet with the principal but she was out sick, so I just signed out and left.

More than anything I want an email from my son's school. So, what did you think? What did you see? We want to know your opinion. We want your ideas and knowledge about your son.

What I've gotten so far: silence. And I'll continue to have silence. I know it. Because they only contact me at this point to put out fires or respond to my complaints. It's not a partnership anymore - it's adversarial. So there's no way any of them will call or email or solicit my input at all.

It's surprisingly painful to feel shut out. To know that they have him all day, and that they have negative ideas about him. To see the relationship between my and my daughter's teacher begin to frost around the edges because it's a small school, and they all talk.

I hate it.

I've dealt with adversarial parents before professionally, but I had no idea how much pain was behind their reactions.