Every once in awhile, the reality of what I’m dealing with as a parent hits me. Sometimes, I just feel exhausted, sometimes I feel exhilarated by the challenge, and sometimes, I just feel scared. This is a scared post.
When I think about the enormity of attempting to fit my square peg into any round hole, I get scared. When I consult google with a slightly different set of search terms for the 73rd time, hoping that this time I’ll find the “perfect school” located within a decent drive of my home with tuition that I have a hope of affording and instead find nothing, I get scared. When I think about how her mind works and remember that while I think I was a pretty good teacher, I would have had no earthly idea what to do with her in my classroom, I get scared. When I think about how she shut down to the idea of school at only three years old, I get scared.
Today, I read 5 Levels of Giftedness by Deborah Ruf. I was already familiar with the ideas, but I hadn’t read the entire text. I had a hard time with the birth-age 2 portions of the Levels. Those of you who know our history know that L came to us at age 5 months and had some substance exposure prior to birth. She was pretty delayed when she joined our family, she spent several months just hanging out, and then her development simply blossomed. She doesn’t look like any of the cases presented in the book. By the 2-3 stories, I could see her in there, though.
When I read the section on Level 1 giftedness, I recognized some of L. When I read the section on Level 2 giftedness, I saw her again. Same with Level 3, but my gut started to ache a bit. When I found her again in Level 4, tears flooded my eyes. There were shades of her in Level 5, too, but I perceive her as being pretty solidly typical of Level 4.
That’s the bear of it. “Typical of Level 4.” Typical of something that’s completely atypical (gifted). Typical of an atypical way of being atypical. Then I got to the part that describes what school-based interventions are most likely to be successful for kids at each level. here’s where the little tears stopped and the sobs started.
I just want her to be happy!
I don’t want her to spend her early life skipping from place to place trying to find a setting that simply “works” for her. I want her to be able to develop relationships and a sense of place. I want her to be able to engage with peers – and know that those peers are somewhere near the 32 pounds of total weight that she is. I want things to be “normal.”
I know that there’s no such thing as normal, and I know that solutions that work for one family or at one point in time don’t necessarily work at another point in time or for another family.
But I want them to. I want to send her off to school, skipping to the bus stop, and help her with homework afterwards. I want to be able to devote myself fully to my work, which is a full-time job. I want L to be a confident kiddo, one who doesn’t struggle with existential questions at age 4. One who I can talk about with pride without being accused of bragging or exaggerating or making things up.
Sometimes the enormity of the “gift” of her giftedness feels soul crushing.