Relationship Rule # 1

“I like you for who you are.”

That’s it. That’s what makes healthy relationships, not

I like you for what you do for me…

I would like you if you would…

If you change this or improve that, then…

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Simply:

I like you for who you are.

Whole and complete acceptance, flaws and all.

This is one of the greatest gifts we can give to those around us — unconditional acceptance and a clear invitation to spend time together.


 

We live far away from family, and the last couple months have been full of joyful visits. My kids’ grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are amazing. They make my kids feel valued and appreciated, encourage them in their interests, and give them space to be themselves.

My kids thrive in these relationships. They are open, warm, friendly, and reciprocal. Outside observers, watching my kids interact with these family members, would not be quick to diagnose my kids.

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The same is true with a few select friendships that we have nurtured over the years, people like family who have been part of our lives, seeing the good and the ugly, and still choosing to spend time with us.

Yet.

In other settings, especially with large groups of same-aged peers, my kids struggle. (What am I kidding? I do too!)

Asynchronous (gifted) individuals are often highly perceptive, extra aware of others’ reactions to us. We may not be able to verbalize it, but we pick up on the subtle cues that others may miss. We agonize over awkward interactions and what should have been said/done differently.

I’ve personally been beating myself up for 12 years now over a careless sentence in a random interaction with a former high school student. And it wasn’t that I said anything wrong, just flippant.

For some of us, we become hyper-aware of how we don’t fit in, how our interactions with others don’t measure up to some kind of elusive standard. We continue trying, it zaps our energy, and we continue to feel isolated and “other”.

Others, like my son, tend to disengage. It’s too complicated, rejection or misunderstanding is too likely or overwhelming, so let’s not even try — plus, the likelihood of shared interests is so low that it’s not worth making the effort.


 

My advice? Start slow. Start small. Realize that it’s okay not to be the extroverted life of the party. Find your tribe, even if it takes work. Realize that same-age doesn’t necessarily pre-qualify you for friendship with someone, and try not to beat yourself up over the relationships that, despite effort, just didn’t take off.

When my son was 4, I referred to the children in his preschool as his “friends”. He corrected me and told me he only had one friend.

“Why?”, I asked.

“Because,” he said, “She says yes when I want to do something.”

Our “Yes”ers are out there, people who have shared interests, think in similar ways, are quirky and eccentric. They may be few and far between, but they are there. And they’re worth finding.

 

This blog post has been part of Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop for July, 2018 – Relationship Issues. Click here to read about others’ wisdom and experiences.

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3 Survival Tips when Parenting Gifted Preschoolers

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The early years of parenting gifted kids can be tough. You’re probably sleep-deprived, frazzled, questioning your parenting skills, asynchrony is in full force, and all around you, people are telling you to “enjoy every moment” and to “let them be little”.

Meanwhile, you’re wondering what in the world you’re going to do with a 4 year old who reads a math dictionary for fun while his friends are playing pirates and house.

My oldest is now 7 and has come a long way in the last couple years in his ability to regulate and connect with others. It’s still not easy, but the worry and doubt of ages 3-5 have mellowed a bit, so I thought it might be helpful to share what helped and grounded us along the way.

1 – Find Your Tribe

We all need people who understand us, can tell us we’re not imagining things, people who can validate our feelings and experiences and provide support along the way. Reaching out to other local moms and connecting through various groups is helpful, as are online forums like Hoagies’ Gifted Discussion Group and the Raising Poppies private Facebook group.

2 – Give Yourself Grace

You’re parenting your child (children). Not someone else’s. And your unique circumstances are not theirs.

Do not let anyone guilt you into feeling less than adequate when your kid isn’t doing all the things. No, my kids don’t play 3 sports, 4 musical instruments, and participate in 5 different clubs while doing enrichment this and STEM that, and our house sure wouldn’t show up on any Pinterest boards, but that’s ok. Are your kids loved, fed, and encouraged in their unique interests? Good job, Mom!

Oh, and another thing: you will mess up. I will mess up. We will all mess up. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. But we do our best. As Anne with an E said, “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.”

3 – Remember Who You Are

You will parent best when you recognize who you are as a person and what your needs are. If you’re an introvert, build in alone time. If you struggle with cleaning or organization and it just takes too much effort, budget or trade for help. Find ways to still connect with other adults outside of parentdom who can remind you that you are more than a nose wiper and sandwich maker. If you need to be creative, don’t feel guilty for maintaining that outlet. Go places that make you feel alive and energized.

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Pay attention to your partner’s and children’s needs and strengths as well. My amazing husband needs alone time and a place to retreat when things get too chaotic. My kids do great on cloudy days, but too much sun taxes their sensory overload, and we get meltdowns if we’re out too long.

Trust yourself as an expert on what works best for you and your family. Sure – it’s great to learn new ideas, get advice or try new things, but ultimately you have to be the judge about whether something is a good fit for your family or life stage. And if something isn’t a good fit, (like the ballet class I tried to put my daughters in last year), give yourself permission to stop, breathe, and try again later.

These amazing little people grow up, but when you’re in the trenches, it can be overwhelming.

We recently returned from a quick family getaway to Dutch Wonderland. Three years had passed since our last visit, and the difference was incredible. As we were happily walking back up the hill to our hotel, I thought back to the last visit, when I had been pushing a double stroller uphill and dealing with triple meltdowns because we had stayed past our kids’ limits, and sighed.

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The early years are amazing but oh so hard. Give yourself grace, find and nurture your tribe, and remember who you are.


This post has been part of Hoagies’ Blog Hop on Things I Wish I Knew Back Then.

Click on over to read about others’ experiences and what they’ve learned along the way.

Like Father, Like Son – Giftedness across the Generations

This week, I’ve been watching the Bright & Quirky Online Summit, a video conference of all things 2e, anxiety, gifted, ADHD, etc. It’s been great – encouraging & enlightening.

One thing that struck me as a common theme in so many of these talks is how often parents started to understand their own giftedness, their own struggles with sensitivity or executive function, as they watched their children struggle and wanted to help them.

I was describing one of the talks to my husband, talking about the gifted characteristic of Rage to Master, and he got a smile on his face. I had been describing how gifted individuals have a strong need to complete a challenge, to fully understand a problem, to not give up until it had been conquered — and this fits my husband to a T. He had just been building a swing set for the kids, and my multiple reminders about not overdoing it, taking a break, etc, had not phased him. Once he started a new challenge, he wanted to see it through.

The funny thing is – for parents who grew up without a “gifted” label, this behavior is normal. It’s normal because it was their experience. It’s normal to be ultra-sensitive to sound or smells, normal to feel bored and disconnected in school, normal to be clumsy or sensory seeking, normal for academics to come easy but the social stuff to be hard. And that causes us to doubt our own kids, to minimize their struggles, because we were the same and made it through.

Yet, as we watch this next generation and learn from all the amazing research and experiences of others in similar situations, we can start to have empathy for ourselves too, to understand why things may have been so hard or awkward for us.

If this is you – seeing yourself in your kid’s struggles, I would encourage you to start reading. SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) is a great place to start, as are some of the bloggers in this group who write about gifted adult populations, and many of the presenters in the Bright & Quirky Summit.

Giftedness can sometimes come out of nowhere, but it is often hereditary, so as we learn with our children what makes them tick, we can also understand ourselves, spouses, siblings, and parents better too.

This post has been part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop for May, 2018. Click on over to read more about giftedness in adult populations!

Books with Quirky Characters – Day 5

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. ANY LINKS TO RESOURCES ON THE AMAZON WEBSITE ARE PART OF THE AFFILIATE PROGRAM. WE ARE A PARTICIPANT IN THE AMAZON SERVICES LLC ASSOCIATES PROGRAM, AN AFFILIATE ADVERTISING PROGRAM DESIGNED TO PROVIDE A MEANS FOR US TO EARN FEES BY LINKING TO AMAZON.COM AND AFFILIATED SITES.

 

So… yesterday (actually, a few days ago!), on Day 4 of my 5 Day series on Asynchrony,

I promised a list of some of our favorite books with quirky main characters.

I’m always on the hunt for high quality books which feature characters who may seem not to fit in but are still loved and valued for who they are. If you know of some not on my list, please comment below!

Picture books :

Archibald Frisby

The Boy Who Loved Math

Ladybug Girl books

Sophie’s Squash

Allysaurus

Young Chapter Books:

Amelia Bedelia

Cam Jansen

Paddington

How to Train Your Dragon

Pippi Longstocking

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and most Roald Dahl works

Older Chapter Books:

A Wrinkle in Time

Anne of Green Gables

Harry Potter

The Hunger Games

The Wizard of Oz

Plus pretty much any YA fantasy novel, including those by Garth Nix, Philip Pullman, Cornelia Funke

 

Again, this list could go on & on, so I’m just sharing some of my favorites. If you have a favorite, please share it in the comments!

 

This post has been day 5 of 5 Days of Asynchrony, part of the iHomeschooling Network’s Blog Hopscotch.

Thanks for letting me share with you!

 

 

Asynchrony Day 4 – What Works for Us

Asynchronous kids are awesome, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them or for their families to find ways to fit in.

I’ve already described in days 1 & 2 some of the struggles that asynchronous kids face.

Today I’d like to talk about what has been working for us.

1 – Homeschool

We did the public school thing for a couple years, even though it wasn’t a great fit. It was still a safe place for J to interact with other kids and to have a break from his twin sisters’ screaming fits. (His sisters are great, but there are two of them, and they have pretty much always been loud – at home, at least.)

When he came up with algebra on his own when he was five, we took a deep breath and started sending math notes in his lunch box.

When he memorized the periodic table at six, and started showing unhealthy signs of stress, we did the paperwork for him to homeschool.

(Here he just learned about Mendeleev, and was thinking about alternate arrangements for the periodic table. At 6. You can’t make this stuff up.)

It’s been wonderful. He loves it. I can work with him on his writing, which is developmentally normal (7), provide math a few grade levels ahead, let him read his college-level chemistry books and spend hours immersing himself in that, and still have time for some motor skills practice and play – which he needs. He’s 7.

Some people advocate for grade skipping, and that works for some kids in some situations, but homeschool was the right choice for us. For now, at least.

2 – Mixed Age Groups

Asynchronous kids tend to struggle with same-aged peer groups, simply because there is an unwritten expectation that they will all be the same, so my 7yo who can’t yet ride a bike but would like to talk about double land-locked countries in Europe stands out.

In mixed age groups, that expectation is minimized. He can help younger kids, who expect him to be academically further along, or chat with older kids, who can keep up mentally but don’t expect him to be physically or emotionally a peer.

A few friends and I created a really sweet homeschool coop this year. Some kids can read, some are too young or are on their way. Some are neurotypical, and others have various disabilities, but our goal has been to encourage healthy interactions and to give the kids chances to share their own voices. It’s been good.

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3 – A Relaxed Pace

I’m in no way implying that J has a relaxed pace when it comes to what he wants to learn. No, he actually devours new knowledge, and we have to slow him down, or he will go into overdrive and have trouble self-regulating.

What I mean is that, because of his personality and learning style, we don’t push lots of formalized curricula. Instead, we explore together, focus on doing a few things well, and maybe add one challenging or not-self-motivated item at a time. He’ll get there.

4 – Bibliotherapy

We read lots of books around here, and I’m always on the hunt for books that feature quirky main characters who don’t always fit in but are still loved and appreciated by those around them.

I’ll post about these tomorrow. 🙂

This has been Day 4 of my 5 Days of a Asynchrony series, part of a blog hopscotch organized by iHomeschool Network.

Asynchrony – Favorite Bloggers and Thinkers

If anything I’ve been writing in a Days 1 or 2 of this series has been striking a chord with you, here are some resources I have found helpful:

Hoagies Gifted is a wonderful resource of all things gifted – little kids to adults, all types of school environments, etc. They have a number of Asynchrony articles and resources. Here are two to get you started:

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/asynchrony.htm

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/asynchronous.htm

 

A few of my favorite bloggers:

Colleen Kessler at Raising Lifelong Learners

https://raisinglifelonglearners.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-homeschooling-gifted-children/

Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley at My Little Poppies

https://my-little-poppies.com/asynchronous-development-and-the-gifted-child/

Celi Trépanier at Crushing Tall Poppies

http://crushingtallpoppies.com/2014/07/15/6-gifted-students-develop-asynchronously/

 

Other worthwhile resources:

From Psychology Today

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creative-synthesis/201201/many-ages-once

A Scholarly Article by Linda Kreger Silverman

https://positivedisintegration.com/Silverman1997.pdf

Very Well Family

https://www.verywellfamily.com/asynchronous-development-1449172

The National Association for Gifted Children

http://www.nagc.org/sites/default/files/Publication%20PHP/NAGC%20TIP%20Sheet-Asynchronous%20Development-FINAL%20REVISED-OCTOBER%202017%281%29.pdf

This article is Day 3 of the iHomeschool Network 2018 Hopscotch.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing about what works for our family, tricks and tools we’ve been picking up along the way.