Positively disintegrating (my sanity, that is)
Posted on January 28th, 2015
My daughter is the gifted child of a gifted child of a gifted child.
I’m supposed to say all children are gifts, but I chaperoned too many class outings. Sorry.*
I was pretty sure around the time she turned three, but try telling people you think your three-year-old is gifted, especially while she’s screaming about seeing a slug, and see what happens.
I wish pH had gotten a pass, because being gifted sucks.
When I was a kid in public schools that were not bad but not good (but so much better than our “neighborhood” school),** all I got was a lousy pull-out program.
And just because you’re gifted doesn’t mean other kids in the gifted program like the same things you do. It doesn’t mean you’re gifted in every subject. It does mean that there are heightened expectations for you, even from people who should know better, and if you have the double whammy of being grade-accelerated,*** you may find yourself in a 10-year-old body with 12-year-old class peers, a graduate student’s interests, and the emotional maturity of a 7-year-old.
Yeah. THAT sucked.
Those experiences are why I am willing to homeschool at all. pH will fall on her face many times as she navigates social life, as we do, but I can at least spare her some frustration of elementary school and either being bored, disruptive, or both. (It was always a measure of whether or not I liked my classmates if I would wait a reasonable amount of time to turn in my tests.)
Not that it’s easy. From time to time someone, bless their hearts, will tell me how lucky I am we can do this, as if I wanted penury and a Xanax prescription.
I’ve been reading about Dabrowski and despite the psych classes I took in college, I have an automatic abhorrence for psychological theories. I don’t know if Dabrowski was onto something with his theory of positive disintegration or was full of shit and I just want to believe badly enough that I’m convinced it’s legit, but it’s the rock I’m clinging to right now.
My goal is to get pH to a place where she can go to a regularish classroom without getting bored, being disruptive, or refusing to do things she doesn’t want to do because OMG she might make a mistake, or OMG she doesn’t want to because it’s stupid. To get her to the place where people who are seeing her on an off day don’t suggest to me that she’s hyperactive (my former internist, who nearly ended up with my highlighter rammed in his eye).
This is when I can reassure myself I must have fierce executive function.
Mostly, when I encounter older women–the most critical of a woman’s parenting, in my experience, and by older I mean grandmother or great-grandmothers–they interact with pH and make a point of telling me that she is delightful. They think I’m doing the right thing. We see them at concerts or in museums or on hikes or nature centers, which is probably not an accident, either as to why we encounter them or why they like her.
I can go a month on one of those compliments. Two.
The ladies who love her at sushi? I love them for loving her.
Because the reality is this gig sucks. The kid is intense. Screaming about the inhumanity of [insert whatever here] and how we hate her because she has to go to bed or [insert whatever here]. Or telling me “No” when it’s time for her to do schoolwork. “I HATE SCHOOLWORK. WORK IS STUPID. I ALREADY KNOW THINGS.”
She fights bedtime so hard that we have an appointment scheduled with a shrink specializing in kids to deal with the sleep thing, because what she says is she is too scared to sleep in her own room. If she is in her room, it is awake and flatly refusing to sleep. (She can outwait me, even past midnight.) We have tried everything we can think of: let her fall asleep in our bed and move her (she reappears in our bed), have one of us (me) fall asleep with her in her bed (she appears in our bed), let her sleep next to our bed (I accidentally stepped on her, thankfully not hard). I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in so long I fantasize about a hotel room. Alone. The one good thing is we have her trained to put her pillow at the foot of the bed, leave a layer of covers between us, and since she curls up, she doesn’t take up much room. The layer of covers ensures she doesn’t end up stuck to one of us.
Sure, it will pass. All I can say is that I had a rocky childhood and while I’m trying to make my own child’s life easier, I don’t think it can be for gifted kids. Or at least not our sort. So this Dabrowski and his belief that neuroses aren’t so bad? Might be good? Sure, I’ll buy it.
Chances are, like her parents and my parents, pH will have to wait to college to find her tribe. Or she will be like me, and start hanging out with people in her 20s when she is in her mid-teens, and it will be time for kH to have his gifted-child-parenting crisis (or break out the Beretta).****
This is my MessagePad 110 from 1994–even Apple developed asynchronously, because once they had the Newton down perfectly (a later model could read kH’s handwriting, which he can’t even manage), they discontinued the product. Two decades later, I have an iPhone 5s that puts this thing to shame, but doesn’t have handwriting recognition. (The bookmark is irrelevant and is to protect my secret ID.)
Funny: I put batteries in this yesterday and it booted and worked just fine; the crossword program, on a card the size of my iPod nano, worked, too–although it thought it was January 1994.
*Yes, I’m an snobby bitch. I never claimed otherwise. Trust me, being a snob on a budget sucks. Thankfully being bitchy is free.
**Gerrymandering is alive and well in the Portland “everyone thinks we’re liberal because of Portlandia, but this is the most racist place I’ve ever seen” Public Schools, which have drawn lines in such a way that people who must live on tight budgets do not send their children to the same public schools where people live on much larger budgets.
***I am not opposed to this in theory. It might have been a good thing for me under other circumstances.