It’s day two of National Parenting Gifted Children week, and I’m a stop on today’s blog tour. Sadly, I’m also getting this up mid-day instead of earlier as planned. Last year I wrote, hit publish, and then dashed off to sell my house and spend 11 days homeless as we meandered a thousand miles east with two boys and a flatulent dog, waiting for a closing date on the other side. This year my only excuse is…um…let’s go with the cumulative affects of the last several months, culminating in PAINT ALL THE THINGS! summer (no, we are not completely finished) and essentially moving into our house for the second time in 11 months.
Oh, and finishing my book.
So you want to know how to parent a gifted child. Me too. There is no handy dandy mass market book, like What To
Fear and Loathe Expect When You’re Expecting, and probably wouldn’t be much help if it did. These kids are the ultimate in personalization, the difference being you can’t order up parenting strategies like a grande hot decaf triple five-pump vanilla non-fat no foam whipped cream extra hot extra caramel upside down caramel macchiato from the barista. So let’s go with a mindset, a generalized list of sorts. Pick and choose what works for you.
1. Toss the standard parenting books, magazines, and websites out the window (psst…not this one). Your kid isn’t in there, and you’ll feel tons better not having those around mocking you. They do mock, and they also reproduce at a frightening rate when you’re trying to help your kid. Toss ‘em, or better yet, build a bonfire and make s’mores. Mmmm….marshmallowy gooeyness…
2. Listen to your kid. Not listen to the kid while still wearing the “I need you to be a certain way” filters, but truly listening to the kid. Listen to what he is saying, and especially listen for what he’s not telling you. For years A begged to be homeschooled, and for years would cry out, “Quit trying to fix me! I’m fine the way I am!” He’s right. And I listen better now.
2a. Conversely, quit listening to
the jackholes those offering up well-meaning advice. When you’re raising an outlier, advice from the middle will only make things harder.
3. Nevernevernever say never. I said for years that I’d never homeschool A. It was a line in the sand to never be crossed, and I was just never going to homeschool. Well, a big ol’ wind came by and blew that line in the sand out of the water (just how many metaphors can Jen mix in one sentence?), and now I’m homeschooling A. It ain’t always easy, but it’s hells better than school was for him.
4. For the love, get out and take a break. These kids…sigh…these incredible, amazing, gonna-change-the-world kids are just…well, you’re going to lose your everlovin’ mind if you don’t take care of yourself. Ask me how I know this. I have screwed up my body, mind, and soul over the last several years, and a lot of it can’t be unscrewed. Also? If you have a gifted kid, chances are pretty high that you and/or your spouse are as well. So you probably have similar intensities that will play into your parenting. You will be a much better parent if you get away from them sometimes.
5. Find your tribe. Online, real life, whatever. Avoid imaginary unless they buy the drinks. Then call me, ’cause if an imaginary tribe is buying drinks, then there is likely a rainbow-farting unicorn with them and dude, I gotta see that. Being with other parents of quirky gifted kids is a balm to the soul. I had coffee with two moms this morning and it was a relief not having to explain why things are the way they are. They get it.
6. It doesn’t always need to be fair, if it is what is appropriate for the kid at that time. At least, that’s what I remind myself whenever the boys complain that something isn’t fair. Sometimes they’re right and the situation isn’t fair, and sometimes it’s a case of what the kid needs when the kid needs it and the other one has to find a way to deal with it.
7. Fake it til you make it. I have no idea what I’m doing. At all. But if I keep going as though I do, eventually I’ll get it.
8. You owe no one anything. This is your kid, you get to raise him your way, and if that’s by letting him go sockless 341 days of the year because the seams blow the top of his head clean off, then that’s that. I had to institute a “socks on the feet if snow’s on the ground” rule. Now A just turns them inside out.
9. Wine. Just…yeah.
10. Accept that you’re doing the best you can, with what you have, at this moment.
ten disclaimers. Do I follow all of these? Bwahahahahahahaha…no. I got #9 down, and #7 is just my M.O. All the others are a work in progress and I struggle with them daily. Hourly. With every breath. I am no expert here, so get out your salt shaker and enjoy a few grains. But I know what has helped me, and what has sucked, and what I hope to do better. I wish there was a parenting barista, ready to whip up exactly what was needed at a moment’s notice. Instead, we will all just band together and do the best we can with what we have at the moment it’s needed.
With extra whip.