Breaking the Mold

Meet Sally and Jane. Sally is an out of the box thinker while Jane is your average stereotypical girl. Sally enjoys STEM activities while Jane prefers to read. Sally prefers comfort and functionality whereas Jane prefers style. Sally is able to fit in as “one of the guys” but Jane does better with female social circles. Sally crashes through glass ceilings however, Jane has to make sure that she doesn’t come across as too bossy.

Sally and Jane are sisters. Their mother was a glass ceiling crasher as well. Sally is conforming to the ideal she was raised to respect. Jane is being true to herself regardless of societal pressures.

That probably not how you imagined that particular scenario flowing, is it?Breaking the Mold

For decades, Jane represented the perfect woman, at least according to images and characters in the media. However, I would argue, that she is no longer what we teach our daughters to become. Not because one is better than the other. In fact neither truly represent the inherent complexity of a persons identity. I would argue that in our effort to change stereotypes, we have not created a free place for each individual to become their own person, instead we simply created a second mold for girls to force themselves into. We have created a binary language, an if-then universe where a child must choose at an early age to be one or the other with little room for variables.

Do you see how ridiculous this is? What about girls who love fashion and want to build robots? What about a bug lover who reads romance novels? What about an artist who hates fashion? What about all of the what if’s?

What if societies problem is not just limited to girls? What if we’ve allowed our need to compartmentalize data to create an imaginary world? One that exists in our mind but is not accurately programed with the statistical probability of variables? What if every time someone frees themselves from a box they are simply joining a new box? Like a never ending version of those adorable Russian dolls that stack inside of each other.

What if we do this to gifted children? We test them, analyze them, force them to prove their intelligence based on a preconceived notion of intelligence (which itself is based on cultural biases) and then after they have jumped through all of these hoops adequately we assign them a gifted mold to fill.

The truth is every child is different. Gifted or not, Girl or boy. Worse, gifted children grow up to be gifted adults: and we are all different too. Arbitrary measures of success are not adequate markers for a healthy adult. Not every gifted child is going to cure the world of a major disease, invent an alternative fuel source or write the next great American novel…and they won’t be doing it at 20, 30, 40, or even 50. Why? Because everyone is different!

To prove this point I am going to use anecdotal evidence, evidence from my own four children, four siblings who have the same parents yet who present giftedness in varied ways.

greName: Little Man

Age: 8

Learning Style: Visual

Gifted Over Excitability: Psychomotor, Informational, Imaginational, Emotional and Sensory

When Little Man was two days old he held his head up, and turned it as much as a two day old could while following my voice. He walked at 8 months and ran at 10. By 12 months he had figured out how to play Wii baseball. He spoke very little until after 18 months old (when he began speaking in complete sentences) but would listen to me read my grad school books out loud for more than 30 mins at a time. By 2 1/2 he could name every planet in the solar system, tell you if you were going to the wrong way while driving in our neighborhood, point out all of his letters and their sounds and count to 30. He could read fluently by 4 but also could not stop moving. By 5 he was reading at a third grade level- this was when I discovered that he was gifted. By 6 1/2 he had learned all that he could about space from childrens literature (including nonfiction selections up to middle school). While listening to a podcast (a college lecture) he was introduced to the idea of chemical make up within atmospheres and the necessary ingredients for finding life on other planets, this led him to Chemistry. His interests went beyond bases, acids and the reactions so I introduced him to the Periodic Table of Elements. He is still memorizing the bottom third of the elements and has now begun asking questions about Dark Matter, Black holes and the physics behind light speed.

—-It was obvious to me that Little Man was gifted. He had an intense need to constantly learn new information and has always been bombarding me with questions. jo

Name: Little Miss

Age: 6

Learning Style: Auditory

Gifted Over Excitability: Emotional, Imaginational

When Little Miss was a baby she hit her milestones at about the same rate as her brother. I thought nothing of this. He was my first and she was my second, so I never questioned the time lines. The only exception to this being her ability to speak. Little Miss began talking at 10 months and was speaking in complete sentences before her 1st birthday. I assumed that it was different because she was a girl and girls talk a lot more. Before her 2nd birthday she could count to 30, but she stopped there and didn’t learn past 30 until after she was 4. She could sing her ABC’s before three and began asking me to teach her how to read at about that time. From three until now we have been working on blending words, she is only now beginning to put them together. By the time she entered kindergarten (@ 5) she could add and subtract numbers with single digits, finish patterns, knew all of her shapes and colors and could tell you which one was bigger or smallest. She could listen to a story once and tell you what a character was feeling based on the flow of words and use of punctuation. She could recall every history fact mentioned and every character’s description read. She is a curious girl who loves to question but is inspired by multiple passions, not one pressing obsession. She is learning both the guitar and piano and has picked up both effortlessly. Her drawings have had arms and legs with five fingers on each appendage and a realistic feel to them since her 4th birthday. Her handwriting is beautiful for a six year old and looks better than some of the boys handwriting I graded while teaching middle school.

—- I never once considered that she might be gifted. It was pointed out to me by a developmental pediatrician. I knew she was smart, funny, and compassionate. I figured that she would be a high achiever once in school, but because she wasn’t reading yet by 5, I assumed she was going to be my normal child.

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Name: Curly Que

Age: 5

Learning Style: Kinesthetic

Gifted Over Excitability: Imaginational, Sensory, Psychomotor, Emotional

Curly Que developed in the same way as her older siblings as an infant, I still didn’t know that this was uncommon.  She began crawling later than the others and went from crawling to running in three months (7-10). On her first birthday she could say a handful of double syllable words but before she was 14 months old she was speaking in complete sentences. She has almost never outright asked for more information but she has been able to learn a new concept just by being there with her siblings after a handful of repetitions. She is my girl who is sensitive against fabric materials, tags, food texture. She is the one that would push everyone away until she was ready for physical contact and then try to climb inside you, because on top is too far away. She feels great emotions and they completely take over her reasoning abilities but she is also empathetic to the point that she will wait until after her older sister has learned something to show that she too has learned it. Often leaving the middle girls at much of the same level even though there are 19 months separating them. Curly Que is the one child in my house that wants to understand how things work. She is the one that will build with legos for hours or puzzles. She is the one that will spend hours trying to figure out how or why something broke. For her every set back or problem is a puzzle that must be put back together- and she loves putting them back together. Curly Que is a strong willed child who cannot be coaxed into anything not of her choosing. She will look at you while disobeying and pretend like nothing is going on.

—Curly que is my fast learner. She doesn’t always learn things ahead of her peers but when she does learn something new, she learns it quickly. I had suspicions that she might be gifted but I believed that she was too young to know for sure (3 at the appointment), the developmental pediatrician assured me that she was positively gifted.

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Name: Itty Bitty

Age: 3

Gifted Over Excitability: Imaginational, Psychomotor, Sensory, Informational, Emotional

Learning Style: Unknown

Itty bitty is by far the smallest yet most opinionated of my children. Her milestones where the same as the others but this time a doctor pointed out that she was ahead. I was confused and asked “are you sure? I thought that was normal.” to which he responded with a list. Apparently they were a few months ahead of their aged peers, I shrugged my shoulders and forgot about that information until much later. At 4 months old she sat through an entire play (in Lancaster PA at the Sight and Sound theater), completely engaged and watching the show (following with her whole head) for a full two hours, not crying once. Itty Bitty did not talk as early as her sisters. She talked even later than her brother. I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with her voice when at almost 2 1/2 she still didn’t say more than 20 words but she surprised us when one morning she started speaking and within a few months two word sentences became four word sentences and then complete thoughts. She would pull out my books from my library shelf for her reading time (my favorite time was when she pulled out Hans Morgenthau’s The Restoration of American Politics and then demanded that I start in the beginning with her silent pout). She refused to potty train at two and once she began talking would argue with valid points agains the need to potty train. She chose her own potty training schedule and demanded that we follow it. She is my strong willed child. My defiant one who will tell you “mommy I love you” before disobeying. The one who will look at you while defying orders and smile sweetly. Itty Bitty is also my imaginational mastermind. She has an innate knack for making up stories and already understands that good stories have parts. She creates her characters with details down to the shoes and tries to figure out what is happening next before it does. She analyzes new information quickly and is already answering her siblings school questions. She can count to twenty, name the ABC’s and is always searching for new information.

— This girl is a mixture of her siblings but with very strong leadership qualities. She is head strong and stubborn. She is sassy and inquisitive. She lives in a world comprised of entirely make believe scenarios and people and is a natural story teller.

Four siblings who are all gifted and yet none of them have the same strengths or weaknesses. Only during their infant development did it seem like they developed in the same way. One loves science, one prefers math, one wants to take apart everything she touches and the last has a story for any dull moment. Some learn to read at 4 others are still struggling at 6 1/2. If just my four present themselves in such different lights, imagine the possibilities for every other gifted child. Imagine the possibilities for every other child, period. Why would we want to stifle those possibilities?

If I were going off of checklists or trying to figure things out based on the model of giftedness that is expressed in the media and culturally as a whole, then I would probably would have never toyed with the notion that giftedness could be found within my family. it was only through our interactions with others that we discovered that giftedness was more. It was only after talking about giftedness with others that I discovered that giftedness doesn’t mean reading at 3. It wasn’t until after I was already fully immersed in the gifted community that I found out that a child could be simultaneously speeding forward and stopped. It should not have taken that long for me to find out, I consider it a great sadness.

There is the statistical possibility that hundreds to thousands of gifted children think that their differences make them less than the others because they don’t fit a preconceived mold. In our over simplistic concept of 0’s or 1’s as descriptors of humanity we lose all of the 6’s. We lose the oranges and triangles. We lose the possibilities for diversity that make our world beautiful. In binary you get diversity by lining up 0’s and 1’s in unlimited ways, turning on and off possibilities but why do we have turn people on or off. Why would you want to turn people off? Why would you shut down a child who still has the wonder and amazement of possibility by telling them not to be them? Binary works for computers, it’s an excellent standard for logical computations but its not reality. Reality is messy. Reality is wild. People live in reality, why would we try to change that?

Our world is a giant puzzle, a giant puzzle whose pieces are scattered and some of the pieces are turned upside down. We need dreamers, thinkers, and game changers to find the puzzle pieces, We need scientists, engineers, and artists to pull them in place. We need speakers, writers, and readers to open doorways for the puzzle piece movers and finders. But above all we need to let each actor move in it’s own right. If we tell everyone to be dreamers we miss out on thinkers, but what happens when we get too many dreamers? What happens when the thinker sees the importance of the piece they are working with and become speakers or artists? Are they failures because they changed their minds? Have we limited the parameters of success to only focus on those who completed the job? Are we missing out on gifted individuals because no one recognizes the giftedness in them? Are we telling children they are not gifted simply because they don’t test well, don’t sit quietly in class or are maybe not quite ahead enough? Are we ignoring the autistic child or the latino child or the poor child simply because they don’t quite fit the mold? Why would we do that to ourselves?

Childhood is not a race. There is no finish line. There is no winner. Life is a journey, but none of us make it out of here alive. It is all about how we travel. Are we speeding through on the bullet train? Are we picking flowers along the way and sitting down for naps? What are we expecting from our children? Why are we fitting them into the mold? Are we helping them to find their gifts? Are we teaching them to use them?

Just a little food for thought.

When you look for gifted children, either as a teacher or parent, remember…you are not looking for a mold,

gfh october blog hop

This Blog is just one view of the Depth and Breadth of Giftedness and is a part of the GHF October Blog Hop. Click here to read some more about this topic by other GHF authors.

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Imposter Located

If I’m so smart, then why is making friends so hard?

If I’m so smart, then why haven’t I been able to get a job since Grad School?

If I’m so smart, then why do I feel like a failure so often?

I did everything right. It was all so easy before I became an adult. The lines were all laid out and everything was perfectly presented with instructions.

1. Get good grades so you can go to college. Check. All I had to do was give the teacher what they wanted, even if it was boring or I knew it was stupid I did it anyway…most of the time. I wasn’t one of those gifted kids who had a hard time in school and I wasn’t one of the ones who got straight A’s either (because that only invited bullies and I was already strange enough). I knew just how much I needed to participate in order to keep the adults happy…practically drowning in societal expectations of what a good girl should be.

2. Choose a good college. Check. I chose a State school. The school nearest to me with the best stats instead of applying for the ivy leagues…honestly I was afraid that if I ended up getting accepted by some freak chance then everyone there would realize that I was a total poser and not nearly smart enough, so I didn’t even try. I specifically chose only one school. I had no back up because I knew there was no chance that I wouldn’t get in. I didn’t get excited or happy when I got my acceptance letter, I knew it was coming. My test scores were well above the average for the school, I was in the top 10% of my class, I was a double minority… the odds were in my favor.

3. Graduate with a good GPA. Check. Yeah, sure I officially changed my major 7 times in my first two years, but my overall GPA was still above average…no where near my best but good enough for what I thought were still mostly easy classes. The classes were so easy that I probably should have had higher grades but I didn’t because the social stuff was hard on me, really hard on me. I still hadn’t figured out how to “apply” myself, even if that had been on every single report card since kindergarten!

4. Go to Graduate school. Check. Okay, maybe this is where I messed up. I will admit that I did not study for my GRE’s. I was in the middle of a really bad break up and rebound and had completely forgotten about the test until my computer alarm went off the night before. My scores were decent… right around average and for my frame of mind, fairly good. My parents were really worried about my mental health and current boyfriend/fiancé (they refused to call him that) so they coerced me into staying with them in Japan under military orders for a few months. I went, we broke up and in order to stay on the island I needed to be a full time student… long story short, within a week I was enrolled and accepted into a graduate degree program that was offered on base as a military extension (full time professors were brought on island and everything). This extension challenged me more than any other set of coursework had. I got to know my professors and I challenged them with my thoughts (which were, for the first time,  welcomed) and the exchange of ideas that were held with current military officers, who brought in professional points of view, were tantalizing. I looked forward to every single class and assignment.

5. Get your first real job. Check. Full time grad program and a full time Middle school teacher. It was a very busy year and I loved every minute of it. Those 7th and 8th graders challenged me to think more than any professor ever had. This was when I knew for sure that I would always want to teach. I was challenged with teaching Social Studies, Bible and English at an International Christian School to a mixture of nationalities, starting two weeks after school had started and with curricula that I had used in middle school myself (ancient!)… and I thrived off of the challenge.

Then I got married and had kids. I was happy, excited, and completely ready for everything life would through at me!

Then it all stopped. All of a sudden social stuff was being thrown at me, not work challenges or school deadlines. Things like making new friends as an adult and deployments. I kept trying to find my way back. Every application was denied, either for employment or studies. Every single door slammed in my face. Making friends became harder but I started finding other misfits along the way. Which is fine and good but what about my goals and dreams. 

I still didn’t really fit in with the other wives, I couldn’t find a job and the schools rejected me when they heard that I had children. Apparently, “you can’t really balance four children and this kind of program.” Yes, in this day and age I was actually told this by two professors at two leading universities, to my face: both meant it kindly, …I’m sure. Here I was, too well educated to get a job and watching people I knew with less education getting hired on the spot while I was told that I was over qualified. 

I’m over qualified for an Internship or entry level position, but don’t have enough experience for a higher level job. I am qualified for an adjunct but competing against people who were more qualified, so not really qualified. In order to fix that dilema I apply for grad school, only to be told I have too many children …and now I can’t even get an online tutoring job. I suppose I could always create my own business but that’s not my point.

For eight years I have been rejected for every single application I’ve turned in.

I don’t know if this is a commentary on being gifted or just being a woman with children, who chose to stay home for the early years. I don’t know if all these doors slam in my face because my “calling” (please imagine those are full on air quotes because if there was a sarcasm font available it would be used here!) is to “just” be a stay at home and homeschooling mom. I know these are hard jobs, I love them both, but I really thought I could do more…isn’t that what we tell our daughters? “You can do anything!” Can I, really? It sure doesn’t feel like it.

I don’t know why I go through this, but I do know that every single rejection feels like a stake through the heart. With every hit it’s as if I’m being told that I am not smart enough, social enough or just plain good enough. Like they’ve finally found me out and kicked me out of the group. After years of hiding among the smart kids, the smart police have caught up with me and the imposter has been found.

The last rejection was harder than the others, I had a gut feeling it wouldn’t work out but at the same time I was perfectly qualified for it so I just sat there and cried.

If I’m so smart, then why?

I know things happen for a reason. I know doors shut and windows open, I know its all about timing and I’m still young… blah, blah, blah… maybe my expectations were just set too high. 

Why do we tell kids that life is like a formula? Life is not an If, Then statement… I don’t live in an Excel sheet or the Matrix. There is no logic out here and to my logical mind If I did A, B, and C then D should occur. Well D didn’t occur, R did and I had not planned for it. R is wonderful. It’s a crazy beautiful life filled with random everyday blessings (ok that made me laugh!) but it is not what I had planned and right now I’m mourning the loss of D. I’ll be ok tomorrow and heck, I may even rise with an idea or two of my own… maybe even think of myself as witty or maybe not.

 So, while the sirens scream and the search for the located imposter continues I will just sit here in my very own pity party, analyzing all the why’s possible because that’s what I do and that is how I cope with disappointment. Just in case your looking too,you’ll find me with a book or a pencil and if you need more help…

Here I’ll even hold up a sign.Imposter Located

The Curse of Perfect

There exists in my house a parasite. A tiny vampire that feeds off of the insecurities that hide below the surface and infects the inhabitants with an obsessive need for perfection.

He rears his ugly head in different ways for different family members but his existence plagues us all.

The curse of perfect

Sometimes, it’s the fear of failure that stops me in my tracks. Others, the tears and frustration that flow when Little Man realizes that he didn’t say what he meant to say. The most vicious is the fear that stops Little Miss from writing anything without help.

I have struggled with this little monster for most of my life. He claws at my brain telling me “you can’t do anything right so why should you even try.” For a long time I gave up drawing, my most favorite thing in the world, because I felt that if I couldn’t make the images in my head come alive on the page in the same way that I saw them in my minds eye then I just wasn’t an artist and I should give up. I watched my father and grandfather draw beautifully intricate doodles, I saw my younger brother growing quickly in his talent (which he hid from most, while he was young) and I knew I just couldn’t compare. I loved art so much that I would look at the amazing drawings of my favorite artists and convince myself that I could never be that good. In truth I never tried. I never once took a class, I never once read a tutorial book. I never once spent time practicing a technique. This is just one example of many, many instances where I allowed the monster to stop me from trying something that could have been fun or a great experience all because I was sure that I couldn’t do it perfectly… I wasn’t afraid of failure, I knew it wouldn’t be abject failure but I also knew I couldn’t do it perfectly and so I quit while I was a ahead.

For Little Man, two years in speech for stuttering when excited were more harmful than helpful. Both of his speech teachers were amazingly kind and helpful, encouraging him with love and working with him to become more fluent. Both agreed that his brain simply moved too fast for his mouth and that this was a sign of his intelligence. He saw it differently. He instantly realized that his repetition of syllables, as he formulated his thoughts into words, wasn’t normal. He began stuttering more often, as a result of his own self induced pressure which caused even more frustration and tears. When we started homeschooling there was the option to procure speech services on our own but not only could we not afford them, we didn’t think they were a good fit for him. We consciously chose to stop doing speech and instead encouraged him to take his time to sort through his thoughts on his own. He still stutters when he gets excited and at times, depending on where we are, he gets visibly saddened. It is an instant reminder to him that he can’t do something the way he thinks he should.

Little Miss refuses to write. Little Man used to hate writing too but for him it was physical, his fine motor skills were weak and so it hurt to write very much, but Little Miss is very different. Tears well up in her eyes and anger lashes out at the mere mention of writing down any of her own thoughts. She loves workbooks. She loves copywork. She loves to draw and has the fine motor skills to do so for hours. The problem occurs when she has to figure out how to spell a word she hasn’t memorized yet. I have tried introducing her to phonetic spelling as is normal for kindergarteners and the thought of purposefully writing something that is wrong gets her angry. Throwing the paper across the room angry. Breaking pencils angry. Crying and yelling at the possibility of being so wrong. A conversation might go like this:

“Jo thats such an amazing story, why don’t you write it down for your journal?”

“Ok but can I draw all the pictures for the story?”

“Absolutely”

Three minutes later

“Mommy how do you spell farm?”

“Why don’t you try sounding it out? I think you can figure this one out because there is only one blend.”

“But then it might be wrong! I can’t do it! JUST TELL ME!”

“Alright lets do it together, Fff-AaaRrr-mmm, what letters did I use”

“F-R-M”

“Close but your missing a vowel, you did great, lets try once more ok”

“I told you I couldn’t do it! I can never do it! It will NEVER be right” followed by the ripping of her page or the throwing of her pencil.

It seems like such a mundane issue, something that I have never made a big deal of, something her brother used to struggle with too (and is completely developmentally appropriate for her age) and yet she demands absolute perfect the very first time, every single time. It makes it worse that this is the only area where she struggles. In general it boils down to anything that has to do with phonics but it is most prominent in her writing. She has no problem with getting a math problem wrong because the second I have her look at the problem she immediately sees her own mistake and fixes it without me saying anything. Writing, is an entirely other story.

There are a few things that we have done as a family to help everyone fend off the little bugger.

For Little Man, We have made it a point to tell him that he is not alone. His Grandfather and great grandfather also struggled with stuttering and they have both taken the time to tell him their stories. I let him listen to a TED talk with Megan Washington, an Australian singer who can separate her stutter from her professional voice. But above all, we have encouraged him to own his own voice. No matter how it comes out, no matter what he thinks it should sound like, own what it is, as it is. The result is that he is more confident in his own skin, more often. He still struggles, and he gets defensive but in comparison to what used to be… night and day!

With Little Miss we backed off. This is one of the reasons we choose to use child-led learning. We value the relationship over the concept. She will get it when she’s ready and as she gets more used to Phonics in general she will be more comfortable with how they work…in both reading and writing. We started the reading process because she wanted to read so badly, we have been following her lead this whole time and to me this shows that she is just not ready yet. There are other ways to write, there are other ways to get her stories written down and we have used those instead. Sometimes she dictates the story and watches me write it out underneath her drawings, other times I write what she says in highlighter and let her write it out on top in pen, still other times we write things on one sheet and she copies it on another. We find what works with minimal tears and focus on building relationships.

Then there are the more general ways we deal with perfectionism in our house.

– We listen to/watch Improvisational Jazz on youtube : The amazing thing about improv in any form is that there are no mistakes, or if you put it another way, the entire perfection of the show rests on your ability to make your mistakes in the grandest way possible.

– We look at professional art: Jackson Pollack, Dali, Picasso…even whole movements like Impressionism, cubism and pointillism are great ways of looking at how little mistakes can create beautiful masterpieces as long as you take a step back.

– We always watch the gag reel at the end of movies: because not only are they hilarious but I love how the actors always laugh at their own mistakes.

– When we are having a particularly rough time with perfectionism I always go to science: Science is filled with mistakes, even the scientific method is built upon the idea of failure. In science you learn nothing if your always right. The best inventions were born after years of failure or from complete accidents…hello penicillin.

-Our faith: It’s comforting to me to have a faith based on the concept that all humans have been screwing things up for Millenia…even when things are spelled out in front of us, humans still find a way to mess it up for everyone else.

Mistakes and failures help us to grow, teach us life lessons and make us stronger. Over my lifetime I’ve learned this to the extent that I can ironically write a post about Perfectionism, while dealing with perfectionism regarding this post and post it anyway. I am not perfect, I will never be able to claim that I have finished something to the extent that I believe I possibly should. My expectations are usually higher than my ability, and I know that my children have inherited this as well, but we are working on that…daily.

ninja

That little bugger still hangs out around here. The vampire that enjoys torturing us in such horrid ways will probably never be something I can completely get rid of, so instead we will learn how to repel it, fight it and remove it as quickly and painlessly as possible…like a tick.

This post is a part of the GHF Blog Hop on Perfectionism and other Gifted/2E Quirks

ghf blog hop pic may 2015

Beautifully Sensitive

There are four of them living in my house. Four beautiful, creative, curious, and extremely sensitive children who live under our roof. It really is a blessing, most of the time.

Most of the time, I love that they are able to empathize with others. Most of the time, I love how sweet they are to each other. Most of the time… But then there are the other times, times when their sensitivities are just too much for my sensitivities and we have a clash of sensitivities.

I am sensitive to loud noises, so are Little Man, Curly Que and Itty Bitty. Curly Que and Itty Bitty are also sensitive to touch. All four of them are emotionally sensitive…like a trigger that is bound to go off at any moment.

beautifullysensitive

Here is how the three clash:

“Itty Bitty, why are you wearing that swimsuit? You can’t wear a swimsuit to the grocery store, lets put on pants”

-I apparently grabbed the wrong pair of pants because Itty Bitty is now howling.

Curly Que enters the room, “Why is she screaming? It hurts my ears”

Me, “Because the pants are the wrong ones…”

Curly Que is now also screaming because Itty Bitty’s screaming hurts her ears which in turn hurts my ears and so I loose it and yell at the both of them to go to their rooms to quiet down while I head to the floor farthest away.

Meanwhile, Little Miss and Little Man are fighting over who gets to comfort mommy, who is obviously upset, and are now both crying and hitting each other because the other one is hurting their feelings by trying to help me with mine. I yell at them to go to their room too and I hide in the basement and unpack boxes for a while.

Eventually we all calm down and talk it out but that’s just one of the many occasions that could occur on any given day.flower2

Here is another, more emotionally based, example:

“Mommy, can we watch a movie about France?”Little Miss asks politely.

“Ok, which one do you want to watch?”

Little Man joins the conversation, “We’ve never seen The Hunchback of Notre Dame!”

Me, “I’m not too sure about that one, it might be too scary for you guys, there are bad guys who try to act like good guys and lots of hurting of other people just because they are different.”

“Mom! We can handle it, we are not babies.” The two cry in unison.

Me, “oh alright but if it starts to get too scary we can turn it off and watch The Aristocats instead.”

Now all four are on the couch, comfortably smothered with giant, soft blankets as we search through Netflix to find the requested movie.

We find it, we start it, and they ooh and ahhh over the opening music. Then enters Quasimodo’s parents and all of a sudden they leap forward. The blankets are tossed to the floor as all three lean into each other for support…and the questions start.

“Why is she running? She didn’t do anything wrong?”

“What’s sanctuary? Why does he want to hurt her?

“That’s just a baby, why is he calling it a monster?”

Then they all stop breathing for a moment and stare at me, even Itty Bitty is in shock.

“Why would anyone want to kill a baby?”

The movie continues but they are still stuck on that last question, until Quasimodo goes through the alphabet.

“Why is he treating him so badly?”

“Why can’t he go to the festival too”

This continues with me trying to answer each question along the way, until we get to the festival. By the time Quasimodo meets Esmerelda, they are done.

They can’t handle the idea that the bad guy is also supposed to be in charge of Justice. They can’t handle the way Quasimodo is treated. They can’t handle the way Esmerelda is treated by the guards, the very people who are supposed to protect others. They still can’t get over the concept that anyone would hurt a baby just because of how he looks. It’s all just too much for them so we switch movies and watch The Aristocats. Everything is better, for now, but those questions will keep popping up over the next week.

What always confuses others, is that these same children will watch Avengers three times in a row, that is not scary to them, its entertaining. The concepts are great but good clearly has an advantage the whole time…The Hulk is good, the Captain is good, Iron Man is good – arrogant and self centered but still good and that is the difference for them. Corruption, injustice, Racism…evil that hides under the guise of good gets them every, single, time. They already know that stuff is real but they don’t want to, they reacted to The Hunchback in the same way that they respond to the news, so much so that we have stopped watching the news when they are awake. We only listen to NPR in the car when its a show, we switch stations during the news, because the news is too much for them at this age…they just understand too much.

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My kids are just sensitive, beautifully and annoyingly sensitive. They know it too. They know that not everyone sees and feels the world the way they do, but they know that they are not alone in it either, mostly because everyone in our house is like that. They may need extra blankets at night, they may refuse to wear socks unless there is snow on the ground… they may refuse to use automatic toilets in public and cry when there are no paper towels. The may come crying to me because a sister said they don’t care about me anymore… but they will also spend an hour giggling and kissing each others arm “just in case there is a booboo” and that is when its beautiful. They care deeply about other people. They care deeply about each other. They want to save the world and cure all the sicknesses. They want to save all the animals, even the poisonous ones.

It may drive others nuts, it may confuse them… but to me they are like flowers, beautifully sensitive flowers.

This post is a part of the GHF May Blog Hop about Perfectionism and other Gifted/2E Quirks.ghf blog hop pic may 2015

Welcome to My World

Welcome back to Everyday Random Blessings where life is crazy, school doesn’t look at all like school and we try our best to embrace our very own muchness.

Join us for a look into a typical day as we join The Gifted Homeschoolers Forum’s March Blog Hop.

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Before I get started lets set the stage.

As a family, we are in a crazy place right now. For the last year our family of six has been living in a two bedroom apartment with a loft as well as living as a one car family in order to save money in anticipation of an early retirement and career change later this year. We will also be moving from this tiny apartment within the next few weeks because we are buying our first home. YAY!

Before the premature departure of our second car from our lives and the housing downsize, our Unschooling-Charlotte Mason hybrid homeschool really could have been called an “anywhere but home-school.” Alas, with life there are always changes and the biggest change has been getting used to being home most of the week. Below is a collage of our “out of the house” days. 

Each morning starts early. Rushed as we force our way out the door, often needing to remind someone that now is not the time to play, sometimes with a bag full of clothes uttering statements I thought I would never say, like “no, you cannot wear flip flops in the snow!” or “yes, you can bring the kindle” and ponytails lined up on wrists. All while sandwiches hang from our mouths and footed pajamas race down the stairs, dragging blankets behind them. We don’t like to waste gas going back and forth, so once out of the house, there is no returning. From the moment we drop Daddy off to the moment we pick him up, we are off on an Adventure, trying to fill up a weeks worth of activities into only one or two days. We don’t bother with writing assignments or math sheets but school is happening with every conversation spoken, every song heard on the radio and every destination we come to, even if that destination is the side of the road so that I can google the answer to a random question that is really is out of my pay grade!

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These days are always a blast but they are not our norm, not anymore. Our norm nowadays is much, much slower and yet much, much more unpredictable. I never know exactly how a day will pan out but they always start the same way.

The alarm blares beside me and I don’t even know what time it is. I feel like I just fell asleep and there is no way its time to get up already. Lately, in an effort to pinch pennies and get my husband to actually eat more than one meal a day (because if you don’t tell him to eat and he gets into a work mindset, he will forget), I have been getting up with him and making him breakfast. Before I did this Little Miss (6) would wake up with daddy, spend some time with him and then climb back in bed with me. I didn’t know she did that, I thought she was waking up when she came to my bed asking to watch cartoons, now I know … and its good to know because I understand why she’s always so hungry in the morning. Any way, she wakes up, he wakes up and I make them breakfast and they all eat and merrily go upon their way.

Im too tired at this point to really understand what’s going on but eventually Little Miss and I climb back into bed together and commence with the cartoon watching, book reading or question asking. Curly Que makes her appearance somewhere between half way through whatever Little Miss is watching and the next episode, still in zombie mode. She joins us with a few solid moans and slowly wakes up in the process. Next to enter are Little Man and Itty Bitty  usually pretty close to 9 am. By this time Curly Que is ravenous and Itty Bitty is always Hangry when she wakes up forcing me out of the warmth and comfort of my bed to prepare second breakfast. On some mornings I allow the minions free range of the kitchen while I switch the load of laundry. Ok, most mornings they fend for themselves.

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Because we are unschoolers there really is no start to our school day, unless you consider waking up a good start… which I do. Clothes are optional, pajamas are preferred. Less laundry that way.

 Somewhere between cartoons and second breakfast the theater troupe that resides within these four walls begin their performance. They must be socialists because they discuss roles and plot development diplomatically, not a tyrannically. Well, that’s not entirely true, there is a tiny tyrant that tries to rule them all with her Itty Bitty fist but she is often ignored and swept to the side or else patronized and called cute, much to her chagrin. She leaves the fold with a pout and a whine in order to console herself with math manipulatives only to find that her new pastime is interesting to the others as well and shall be the new setting for their latests dramatic enactments. I use their preoccupation with my tiny wooden conspirators to wash dishes, change laundry and generally get at least a little bit of cleaning done only to come running at the sounds of wailing and gnashing of teeth. The next two hours go something like this:

Captains Log, stardate 2015:

“I came too late, the battle has been fought and the game has been taken over by the larger more dominant inhabitants of this strange land. They speak a foreign language, no, really, a completely foreign language what  is this ‘hutsu’ and how did it originate? They discuss planetary alignments and argue over how a circumference is related to pie…oh wait, they are correcting me… what’s that now, did you say pi? They run in a frenzy carrying weapons and barking like dogs before spouting off names from their favorite tales. Oh good, they are occupied, now seems like a good time to have some coffee and sit down.

Or not. The one known as Curly Que is coming towards me. She is running, tears streaming down her face as she tells me a heart wrenching tale of a sister who would not acknowledge her right to refuse her humanity in order to instead release her inner german shepherd and a brother who claimed she couldn’t be a german shepherd because they were currently located on Mars and the infrastructure just doesn’t exist. She claims that she is not a German Shepard on Mars, she is a German Shepard in China making a living as a wildlife photographer. Her hiccups interrupting her very real sobs as I try to find a way to mend the dog/astronaut/alien relationship before the sun explodes. Which apparently will be occurring within the next five minutes, unless the alien and astronaut can stop the weapons of mass destruction.

Just as the diplomatic mission is ending and the German Shepard is appeased appropriately Itty Bitty appears with an Egyptian Mythology book to be read, she is asking for mummies while I distinctly smell a present I want nothing to do with. I ask her desperately if she will ever agree to go near the potty to which she responds “NO! I can’t use the potty, I’m only a toddler. Baby’s use diapers and I am not three yet.” How can I argue the logic, wait, why am I even considering arguing the logic of a two year old, she’s two and I’m the mom, shouldn’t that reasoning alone be enough to prove she’s ready for the almighty potty… then again, I have lost that battle three times already and know better now. Instead I instruct the littlest one to find diapers and just go about the task of cleaning yet another thing… Why is she running away? Great, now if only I could catch her. Maybe I can trick her using a book as bait. There we go, hold up goodnight moon and offer to read it again…and…gotcha! Wait why should I read this book to her again, “Little Miss come over here, lets practice reading Goodnight Moon to Itty Bitty” …wait for it, wait for it…

YES! Two birds with one stone, Momma for the WIN! What time is it, please tell me its almost lunch time…nope, its only 1030.

Clean diaper, check. Reading practice, check.”

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Around this time the drama has been abated and the requests begin flowing in.

Little Man: “Moooooooooom! Can I watch Nova Hunting the Elements?”

Little Miss: “Not Nova, can I watch You Tube, I want to watch The Piano Guys, right Itty Bitty? we want to watch the Cello?”

Itty Bitty: “Cello!!! I want to play the Cello!”

Me: “Sure you can watch the cello one. Itty Bitty do you want to play your sisters guitar? Little man go watch Nova on the other TV.”

Curly Que: “Mom, can I play the reading game?”

Me: “Yes, Curly que can play the reading game.”

Little Man: “Wait, we can play games? Can I do Sumdog or Age of Empires?”

Me: “There’s only one computer, choose something else, wait I thought you wanted to watch Nova? If you want to do something else why don’t you do journal work? You haven’t explained to me how hydrogen works yet.” -Time to act excited…

Little Man: “ummm, how many sentences do I have to write?”

Yes!!!!! Win for Me: “How many will it take for me to understand?”

Little Man “I suppose I could write 5, but just one paragraph and then no more writing!”

Double win for Me: “Deal”

Itty Bitty: “Peg plus Cat! One hundred chickens!”

Me: “Is that already over? Ok, Peg plus Cat is fine. Little Miss what are you going to do next?”

Little Miss: “Can I paint?”

Me: “What kind of paint?”

Little Miss: “Watercolor”

Me: “ok I guess but don’t let Itty Bitty get into the paint or the water” 

Hmmm, time to change the laundry and reheat my coffee.

 Wait its lunch time! 

Me: “Sorry princess, I know your in the middle of your masterpiece but look, it’s already 1130 am, it’s almost lunch time, can you finish your painting later? Everybody else, stop what your working on. Clear the table and clean everything up while I make lunch.”

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The morning is full of unschooling with no clear direction but lots of learning. Lunch is when I dig deep for my inner Charlotte Mason. They eat and I read between sips of my finally warm coffee and already cold lunch. I pull out the Living books we scavenged from the library last week and read to their hearts content. We read about Dinosaurs and Egyptian Mummies, Dark Matter and chemical compounds, the human body and composting. Any book that looks even remotely interesting gets snatched up and brought home to be read while little faces are smeared in peanut butter and little hands are sticky with jelly. I read, they interupt, we discuss or debate and I read some more for the next hour. Each person able to add to the overall conversation until our plates are cleared and put away.

At this point they need to be cleaned. Shower or bath time, depending on the kid, occurs in the middle of the day, calming and relaxing them before our next activity. I only fight the water on the head battle every couple of days. Even at 7 and 4, Little Man and Curly Que scream and wail if even the tiniest amount of water gets near their faces, so does Itty Bitty but she’s still young and may grow out of it yet. Little Miss on the other hand becomes a Mermaid. After the bath battle is the hair saga, trying to get a brush through thin curly hair on overly sensitive heads is a necessary evil.

Then we retire to the haven of all havens, mommy and daddy’s bed. The one place nightmares don’t reach and blankets lie thick and heavy atop a freshly cleaned child. Each person find the coziest, most comfiest spot and the read aloud book comes out. For the next hour we are all wandering across the heather speckled waste with Howl, Sofie, Michael and Calcifer in Dianne Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle and contemplating which is better, the book or the movie. Each character gets a different voice and sometimes Little Man asks to be the reader. The smallest one cannot escape her exhaustion and falls asleep to the lilting sounds of a well told story, marking the beginning of the sacred Quiet Time.

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Quiet time is that special time of day when everyone separates. Each person gets almost two hours of solitude. You can choose from a smorgasbord of quiet school like options (varying from workbook sheets to madlibs) to complete on your own, read, or play quietly with manipulatives in your bed. It is a time of contemplation, deep thought, artistic expression and intellectual stimulation. Mommy is available for consultation but individual exploration is recommended until Tea Time. It’s not always as quiet as I would like but I believe strongly that everyone needs time alone with their own thoughts. 

 At the end of it all the waking of Itty Bitty is the alarm that alerts everyone to the end of quiet time. We gather around the table to enjoy a light snack served with warm tea or iced lemonade. The poetry book gets pulled out as snack is quietly or not so quietly eaten. The ridiculousness of Shel Silverstein or Roald Dahl makes for some belly rumbling fun before we dive a few pages into the classic children lit selection that will be read. Winnie The Pooh, is a running household favorite, as is Alice in Wonderland but lately we’ve been getting into mythology more and more. While I read the little hands keep themselves busy with legos, blocks, whizzing toys and art supplies before The Call.

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The call signals the end of the daytime chaos and the start of the evening shenanigans. Daddy calls to give the little fair warning and operation clean up commences. Depending on the events of the evening we will either eat at home or eat on the run as we dash out to AWANA or Robotics, either one being the highlight of the whole day. On nights not out and about the imaginations are then let loose once again, not that they ever really go away, but finally free of the constraints of the day until bedtime approaches and we send them off to the Land of Nod.

Warfare

Warfare

It just wouldn’t be fun if it ended so anticlimactically and lucky us, it doesn’t.

Little Miss and Curly Que are always the first to fall asleep. Often without a hitch these two lay in their beds and chat until they both fall asleep together, leaving behind a tiny revolutionary who protests often and dreams of a covert rebellion. She silently escapes her perch in search for a behemoth of a book and a snack to aid in her attack on sleep. She gets caught only half of the time. 

Meanwhile, Little Man reads aloud to himself from up in his loft, spending hours giggling at the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Duddley Durselys’ new word. Other nights are spent oohing and ahhing over a series of chemistry and astronomy books, often surrounding him on his bed spread out like radioactive fallout. Sometime between 1000 and 1030 he falls asleep, but not without attempting to sneak a peak at Daddy playing Destiny first. 

At this point it has been quiet for over an hour and so we assume that the tiny revolutionary has lost the battle and succumbed to exhaustion, probably on the floor somewhere. But no, that would be too easy, instead we turn the corner only to find her quietly sitting on her bed reading a book about dinosaurs while eating a stolen banana. 

She sees me and then explains loudly why the Gigantasaurus is scary because he will eat her but the Stegosaurus is her friend, and they can eat salad together. I sit down beside her and begin reading the encyclopedic text outloud. I am hoping that it will calm her, but instead the new information about the Devonian Era excites her and she tells me that the fish and crocodiles are just like Ponyo. Finally I start to yawn compulsively, it’s been over an hour. I stand to go to bed (my novel awaits) but she is still reading her book…her book with skeleton cutaways and a triceratops head being eaten by a T-Rex.

Will you ever fall asleep dear child… or will that picture scare you and leave you even more awake?

Oh good, she fell asleep.

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Top Ten Online Space Resources

Do you have a Space Enthusiast in your house? We do!

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Little Man is enthralled with space. Everything he chooses to learn somehow stemmed off of a space related subject.

When we spent 2 months learning everything we could about Pirates, yeah, that was really all because of space. His sisters asked about Pirates first after they watched Jake and the Neverland Pirates at Grandma’s house. We checked out books from the library and started watching kid friendly pirate movies. One of those was Treasure Planet. Now Little Man wanted to know about Pirates too, that is now that pirates could surf past a super nova and travel to distant galaxies…at least in his imagination. Sure, we read Treasure Island and learned everything we could about real pirates but the big interest was still space.

When we started learning measurements in math it was all because he wanted to know how far away the Sun was. Thats also when I introduced place value and multiplication. I used 93 million miles to start that conversation.

This whole chemistry kick that he is on right now is all thanks to a Princeton Lecture we found via our smart TV. Thanks Mister Professor Man, your mention of the chemical diversity of the universe and the chemical make up of the sun sparked his interest in the Periodic table. Then he read through everything he could in our house on chemistry, which is really a few science encyclopedias and they didn’t answer his questions about the make up of the sun and how the elements combine. However, it did get us talking about chemical bonds and alchemy (Lego Harry Potter helped too) which only broadened his interests.

I thought the whole Chemistry bug was in him now but still he stays up at night playing with his solar system tablet toy and reading encyclopedias…over and over again! If I turn on a documentary for me about astrophysics (It’s funny how the kids interests rub off on me…know I want to know everything I can about astrophysics, photography, Dinosaurs and Marine Biology!) I immediately have a best friend glued to my hip.

On top of all that there are these resources…which he goes back to everyone he gets free time on my computer! He loves these  sites, YouTube videos, and YouTube playlists. Please note these are favorites in our house. Little Man is a Visual learner and so videos and websites are a crucial part of our learning environment.

The Solar System Song:

I dare you not to get this tune stuck in your head…if you win you are stronger than I.

Solar System Structure & Formation Playlist:

With over 40 videos this is a pretty good collection of YouTube Videos covering these two topics.

Astrophysics & Cosmology:

With 90 videos from a wide variety of sources, including Cable channel specials, this YouTube Playlists is awesome for anyone interested in Space, or physics.

NASA / NASA Space Place:

I put these two together because both are official NASA websites. That being said we use them for two very different reasons. The NASA sites has some amazing resources for the more serious fanatic, including Podcasts, Videos, and up to date information. Meanwhile, Space Place is meant for children. There are games, simplified information and other activities meant for a younger crowd.

ESA/Hubble & HubbleSite:

If you want great images from the Hubble Telescope these are the place to go. HubbleSite is run by NASA and so we tend to go there more often because overall they offer more but the ESA/Hubble website is a little easy to maneuver through when we want to look at pictures quickly and easily.

NOAA Geostationary Satellite Server:

Ok, this is technically not about space but because the images come from space I’m adding them in… I should also add Google Earth (their Sesame Street option is a favorite for the smaller ones) here for that same reason. Little Man loves seeing the world from outer space!

Exploratorium:

These guys have everything but their Astronomy section is Little Mans playground.

Astronomy for Kids:

The link takes you straight to the games and activities but there are also articles and information if you poke around.

Amazing Space:

This is a pretty neat website on its own but we really like this one for the “Tonight’s Sky” section.

Space.com:

I saved this one for last because it is Little Man’s absolute favorite out of them all. Between the live footage constantly streaming from the International Space Station and the NASA TV channel he could spend all day, every day, on this site.

BONUS:

I’m tossing in this last resource because it is both local and online. Find your nearest university/college/community college and get ahold of their astronomy department. Most departments hold night sky viewings on clear evenings where they allow the public to use their telescopes to view the night sky. Often there is a short lecture to go along with it and you get an expert to guide you through what your watching.

I haven’t been to every site online and because he is still interested in this subject we are still looking to add to this list. If you have any favorites not mentioned here go ahead and add links to the comments section, we will be happy to find some new ones.

Happy Hunting!

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This is a part of GHF’s Resource Review, please click here if you would like to look through more reviews.

Finding My Tribe

While watching the new CBS show Scorpion (which Little Man loves as much as we do) I asked my son if he sometimes felt weird or different than everyone around him and his response was “no.”

He is not “normal”, I have cringed for him while watching from a distance as he tries to make friends with kids who ignore him at the playground and yet he does not feel different. I have overheard other children tell him that he is weird yet he does not feel weird. How is that possible? When I was his age I KNEW I was different. I KNEW that I was weird.

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Growing up as a military child, moving every two to three years made fitting in hard. Others always thought it was hard because I was shy and introverted but I was also weird and slightly socially awkward, and I knew that. Never enough to catch the attention of the adults but enough to often be the butt of jokes. We always moved in the summer just before school started and with a Fall birthday the pressure was on to make enough new friends to have a birthday party. Add to that an introverted child who did not like small talk and you have a recipe for massive awkwardness. Try as I might by the time we left that duty station I was lucky to have made one or two real friends. I am still lucky to have made two friends at a new duty station, even as an adult.

Making friends is very hard. Finding other people, especially women, who understood my thought process or are willing to just go along with my weirdness is still extremely hard. I still don’t know what to say, or not say and even adults can be downright mean when you don’t fit their expectations. There have been several moves where I made several acquaintances but no real friends and as I got older I developed masks, pretend personalities that I knew would make friends. I knew how to act the parts because I was always watching other people. I knew what made some people likable and what made authors annoying and tried my best to put on a show. I have been ridding myself of masks over the last few years but still … very, very few ever see the real me.

The few that have seen the real me and still choose to stick around have become my tribe.

My community is mixed up with great friends and family and it is tiny. I can count on one hand my closest friends. People who think and act like me, none of us live near each other. When I married my husband, my teeny tiny tribe tripled. He is charismatic and outgoing, but he too has a small tribe of people that he considers his closest friends. His closest friends became my friends, my closest friends became his and combined with our families we have created a small but stable tribe that we can rely on.

The kicker is that, in gathering people like us and creating this safe zone for ourselves we have also created a safe zone for our children unintentionally. Like us, most of our friends and family are either gifted or high achieving…so are their children. Not because we are elitists or anything like that, its just that like minded people tend to search for understanding from other like minded people. The people who laugh at our inside jokes tend to think a lot like us. Not all of us are gifted or high achieving, but enough to be noticeable.

We realized that even though our children socialize with other children through community events, church get togethers (like sunday school and AWANA) and co-op like classes regularly they spend the most meaningful time with their cousins and the children of our closest friends.

Children who also obsess. Children who also deal with asynchronous learning. Children who think reading for hours or watching dissections online is totally cooler than whatever tv show is popular. 9 year olds who have no problem hanging out and talking Minecraft or Pokemon with their 7 year old friend/cousin because they enjoy that too. Friends who even if we don’t live in the same neighborhood, or even state, want to Skype/Facetime while playing Lego Batman or Little Big Planet and talk about their newest obsession. Family who doesn’t make fun of his stutter when he gets excited because they get just as excited as he does. Who do not make fun of him because he can’t ride a bike without training wheels because they also learned late.

Inadvertently, we have been blessed with this microcosm of gifted nerdiness where our children can be themselves without feeling like outsiders…at least with their closest cousins and friends. Enough so that, thanks to their social awkwardness and asynchronous development, they are blissfully ignorant of their differences…for now, who knows how things might change later on.

They are also in a nuclear family where all of us are different too. Their mother introduces them to Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Dr. Who, and Star Wars by their 5th birthday. Muggles is a perfectly acceptable term in our household and they are often reminded that House Elves don’t live with us. Their father teaches them all about Anime (Studio Ghibli films are always chosen over Disney on movie night in our house), Chess, woodworking,knot making, and the inner workings of computers. Their uncles and aunts feed their love of Science with experiment kits for birthdays and books or Art supplies for christmas. A conversation between Little Man and Grandpapa (my grandfather) regularly revolves around astrophysics, chemistry and sometimes philosophy. Their favorite activity with Grandma and Grandpa is going to museums…especially Natural history ones with taxidermy and fossils.

Surrounded by their siblings and me daily means that imaginary friends, places and adventures are normal. Singing everything they’ve learned in the last few days while acting out epic battles are commonplace. Where our idea of a great night in is filled with watching back to back Science or Nature documentaries. It’s ok for my 7 year old boy to play with his sister’s fairy doll and not realize that its a “girl” toy or for my 3 year old daughter to wear a camo tee under her Cinderella dress while sporting a Nerf bow and aiming at her Lego prison. Where a single conversation can mix together English, Japanese and Spanish and everyone knows exactly what has been said.

We have redefined normality and our Tribe has helped us.

That is what it means to find your Tribe, To find people you trust and love. People who trust and love you, for being you…not a mask or persona. Online communities have helped me realize that I am not alone in this search for those like me. Shows like Scorpion and Leverage (real or not someone had to be dealing with these feelings of isolation to be able to present them to the public!) help me see that a small tribe is still a Tribe. Now it is my turn to help my children find their Tribe and move this cycle onto its next reincarnation.

I am so thankful that they don’t realize how different they are. I want them to be them, even if that stands apart from the rest of the world. Even if they are different. It took me decades to learn that lesson. If I can spare them that pain then our Tribe has done its job. Nothing is being lost. They still learn how to associate with others who are different, we are not shielding them from the realities that are out there. They spend more time in the normal world than with our Tribe, but the time that they spend with the Tribe has already taught them that they are not alone.

Isn’t that what we search for when we look for friends?

Proof that we are not alone?

Like a Lighthouse we each shine our “Muchness” out on the World, searching for lost members of our Tribe.

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