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Letting Go

I think starting Kindergarten is hard for any parent; but I have found it especially hard as a mom with a child who has over excitabilities. There was no doubt in my mind that my son was ready for the academic aspects of Kindergarten. But what to do with those OE’s. Do you tell the teacher? Do you tell anyone or do you let life happen as it may, and divulge after.

This summer prepared us for the transition into the world of formal schooling. We sent out oldest to Camp Invention through the recommendation of our school’s gifted coordinator. The silly new mommy in me thought this week-long camp (full day) would give me a nice time to catch up on the household items always put to the side (never mind the benefits for my little man). Well my bubble got popped about hour 2 into the first day. The phone call… my son was workin’ it: didn’t feel well; missed me; cried, etc. So I spent pretty much the whole 1st day with him (along with my un-napped 2-year-old and my dear friend). Day 2 I compromised and meet him for lunch, etc. My son was present when the director of the camp called me and told me my sons list of ailments. She then suggested that he might just have a nervous tummy (as perfectionist often do). He now uses that phrase when he is trying to maneuver himself out of new situations ” you know Mrs. H told me I have a nervous tummy.” Clever kid!!

That experience – hard for us both for different reasons – actually made the transition into kindergarten much easier. The first week of kindergarten I have found both hysterical and stressful all at the same time.

Knowing the experience we had over the summer and that my son has OE’s I did all I could as a parent and early childhood professional to help my child transition into his new setting : picture of the teacher ahead; color of village; set up play dates with other children listed in his class. I was prepared and so was he….until the school changed his room assignment 3 TIMES (all within 2 weeks of school starting).  After several phone calls and my wanting to bulldoze the principal and hearing all the same crap I dish out “children are resilient, etc.” – Yes most children are very resilient (and it is often the parents who are not) but my son is not most kids he has OE’s – emotional OE’s. We got through that.

About day 2 my son cam home (loving his teacher) and saying “she did the cutest thing….FOR THE KIDS THAT DIDN’T KNOW THEIR NUMBERS.” I thought a minute about his sentence before asking the next question (The “kids” that didn’t know their numbers – he was excluding himself from that group on day 2). He explained how she had them sing a song to remember how to draw the number 5. I asked what he did during that time: he said he drew four 5’s and then figured out that four 5’s would equal 20 if you added them all up. So do you share that with teacher after day 2?

Day 4 the gifted coordinator emailed me to say she popped in to meet TJ – good sign.

I have spent countless hours in my sons early childhood experience both as mom and as his teacher intervening and preventing some emotional meltdowns from OE’s through my controlling the situation or my talking him through his own control. I can’t do that at school now. I am not there to see that the frustration is due to perfectionism and talk him through that. I am not there when someone makes fun of him for knowing the answers most of the time to let him know it’s OK to be smart and be proud of that (yes that has happened already too). Or to tell him to let others answer the question even when he knows the answer 1st (this one has been hard; but we talk about it at home).

We all do it… we let go little by little…allowing them the spread their wings and hopefully use the tools we have instilled (both coping and other) to go to school. I just didn’ think this would be so hard on me!

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Dear Nintendo…

Dear Nintendo,

I find the creation of the Poke-walker to be an ingenious idea. (For those not ‘lucky’ {insert sarcasm here} enough to have a Pokemon obsessed child…A poke-walker is a pedometer type gadget. The gist is that kids wear it and score points for the activity they log on the poke-walker. These points can be transferred back to the DS game.) Truly a great idea to get our video game obsessed children moving more.

However, EE has decided that attaching said device to the dog’s collar is a much more efficient way to quickly rack up points than actually wearing the thing himself. This was especially brilliant as our dog never. ever. sits. still. for longer than 30 seconds.

*****

Dear PTO Bitches Women,

I don’t have time for your petty bullshit games. The damn school year hasn’t even started and you women have already begun to make my life a living hell. Remind me again why I decided being on the Executive Board was a good idea? Oh yeah, it was to help my kid’s school and maybe eliminate some of the cliques. So far – not so good.

****

Dear Bankrupt Homebuilder,

Thanks for nothing. If one more damn thing breaks in this house I am going to go ballistic. The nice mold circle on my dining room ceiling is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Really? How hard is it to properly seal a shower drain? Must be incredibly hard since we are the 4th house in a one block radius to suffer the same said ‘mold circle’.

****

Dear Prospective Employers,

I do realize that I do not have a degree. However, completely shit canning tossing my resume into the recycle bin without even considering me as a candidate sucks is not cool. It is not like the positions I am applying for are ‘Rocket Science”. Seriously. I just need a decent part-time job that is a little more stimulating than being a Wal-mart greeter. I don’t think that is so much to ask for. If you had taken the time to read my resume and accompanying cover letter you would know that I have  crazy mad superior technology skills. I was an IT Rock Star before birthing my child.

****

Dear Husband,

I am really trying. I am applying for every position under the sun. Apparently no one is impressed with me or my awesome tech skills except you (and I am  guessing even that is debatable right now. SIGH.)It is also not my fault that grocery prices are skyrocketing and the value of our home – well…it can’t get much worse could it?

****

Dear Clutter and Disorganization,

Get the FUCK out of my home. I can not deal with you anymore. I realize that it was I who invited you in, but you are no longer welcome. Leave and send your nemesis cleanliness to help rectify your aftermath.

****

Dear Summer,

You are so fun, but like the bad boys of my past, you coerce me into doing things that I know that I shouldn’t. You are a bad influence on my schedule and organization. I almost wish you were over so that I could get my shit stuff together.

****

Dear School District,

Please. Pretty Please. With. Sugar. On. Top. Place my child in the cluster classroom and admit him to the Language Arts gifted program. He really needs and deserves this. I am tired and really hate having to fight for everything. Could you please just do this for me? After all – I am enduring the crazy PTO bitches for you in return!

****

Mother,

Stay away. I am serious. I do not need your crazy ass in my life. I have the PTO bitches now. Your daily doses of insanity and constant reminders of what an awful, selfish person I am are no longer needed. Just sayin’.

****

Dear Karma,

Stop pissing in my Cheerios. Go and pick on someone else for a while. I am finished. You have beat me down. I am not a Rock Star and I can not possibly handle anymore drama.

****

Dear Jen at LAC and Casey at Raising Smart Girls,

Thanks so much for writing. You give ECEmom and I more comfort than you know. We know we are not alone and that there are other stressed out moms who feel our pain.

****

Dear Blog,

Thanks for letting me vent. I promise that I will be a better writer in the weeks to come. Summer has corrupted me. I will find the time to write more meaningful and well written posts very soon.

Too busy parenting to write at the present time, but read a fascinating article in Newsweek on the Creativity Crisis in our country. I shall post on that soon. In the meantime, I am chauffeuring EE to and from Robotics camp. Which he is loving and I am trying to find creative ways to spend the 7 hours he is there without using my credit card in the process.

Are you on hiatus?

Nope. We are not. It has just been too damn busy around here – for a myriad of reasons – most good, but some – not so much. I am sneaking in a quick post so that all our friends in the blogosphere do not think that our children finally did in fact – send us to the loony bin.

For starters. the hubbies are off in Gettysburg for a LONG weekend. Doing what you ask? Ghost hunting. That leaves 2 moms and 3 very gifted children with major OEs. We have officially been outnumbered. Not only that, but my cherub is  devouring protein at an astounding rate. He has eaten more chicken breast this month than I think I have eaten all year. At first I thought it was a growth spurt, but then in talking with Ecemom about something completely unrelated, I realized that the boy has been running non-stop since the warm weather finally arrived here in Northern IL. He is needing the extra energy stores and when he has too much sugar – oh my – the sass that comes from his mouth is ‘teenage’ in characteristic. (He is also experimenting with humor and sarcasm, but he hasn’t quite gotten when it is appropriate to use this with his ‘cranky’ mother.)

There are family issues (UGH), work issues, school issues, home projects, getting to know the new neighbors, more family issues (You can pick your nose, but….), and last but certainly not least – summer fun to be had. You see when the frozen tundra finally thaws, we only have 3 very short months to enjoy the weather (and Ecemom’s free time) – so of course we are ceasing this opportunity.

*************

Camp Invention ended yesterday. EE was sad. He loves Camp Invention. I love his enthusiasm. {SS also attended his first ‘camp’. I think Ecemom is going to blog on his experience. (It was a huge developmental step for him.)} Seeing EE’s face light up with his discoveries makes it all so worth it. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with in July during his Leapfrog Robotics class.

Ecemom and I are contemplating starting a parent affiliate to IAGC for our area. The state of Illinois is a financial cluster *&^% and we fear that if we do not organize ourselves quickly, we may lose what little gifted programming that we currently have in our district. We have been informally networking with other parents, but it may be time to get ‘serious’.

We re-scheduled our meeting with the principal and gifted coordinator until August. This was not by choice but more because of scheduling conflicts. However, it does give me more time to prepare.

I am trying to get some ‘home schooling’ in.  We are working on our Times Tales and it seems to be ‘sinking in’.  It is a mnemonic system for memorizing multiplication facts.  YAY!!! He is reading 60 minutes most days. We are trying very hard to get those Harry Potter books finished. Writing still remains the Achilles heel. He has done some but I need to really find some good exercises for him. Oh, how I wish there were more hours in the day.

So we are hopeful to get some more writing done here. Lord knows these children give us enough material.

Anyone else get these?

Not the whole – ‘holy smoke my kid will be home 24/7 for the next 3 months’ blues. What I am talking about is the feeling you get as the parent of a gifted child when you look back on the past academic year – not unlike most parents do – but rather instead of feeling like there was growth for your child –  having the sinking feeling that yet another year went past and you are still no closer to seeing him challenged appropriately – despite your best efforts and intentions.

{{{SIGH}}}

This was by far – a much better year than last. Hands down. However, I started the year with such optimism and hope. Now – I feel like a stretched out balloon. Deflated. And devoid of that puffed up feeling that I had 9 months ago.

We are trying to look at the positives…

He was much more secure socially. He has actually connected with his classmates. He is building friendships – not acquaintances. He LIKES his school. He likes his teachers. For this we are extremely grateful.

For the most part, he did not complain about going to school and sometimes was even eager to go. (HUGE improvement.)

Despite the fact that he did not ‘qualify’ for the ‘gifted’ program. (Damn CogAT.) The gifted coordinator still made time for him the last trimester and a half. She worked with him on a Greek Mythology Family Tree which he presented to his class at the end of the year. (He was also told by several of his cluster-mates that they were jealous and wished they could go and work on Greek Myths.)

Math was somewhat accelerated. This was good, but we still have a ways to go there. Hoping for 5th grade math next year.

We spoke with the folks in Denver. We have made a ‘plan’ and are trying to execute it. The next step is speaking with the Principal. We will do this in a few weeks.

I just feel like I climbed a mountain – only to get to the summit through the clouds and realize that I am facing yet another climb and this one has no end in sight either.

I just want to have ‘fun’ and blow it all off. However, we have work to do. Whatever ‘label’ you want to give EE’s difficulties, we have to ‘deal’. We have to help him find ways to ‘cope and compensate’. I am not an educator. I am not an OT. I am not anything but a mom on a mission and I am afraid that may not be ‘enough’. What to do?

So while we are prepping for camps and play dates, we are also devising a ‘summer home school curriculum’ to make up for the areas that he did not see any growth in this year. We are looking at ways to make rote memorization easier – perhaps through visualization? He is aware. He is not pleased, but he has finally realized that I am not ‘giving in’. I will do my best to make it fun. I will do my best not to ‘overwhelm”. I will do my very best to reward effort and accomplishment.

I will also probably consume copious amounts of alcohol and ice cream 🙂

Can you relate? Do you want to ram your head against the wall? Or perhaps roll over and pretend that the alarm is not going off – just be lazy?

Because remember – “What does she have to worry about? Her kid is gifted.” LMFAO!!!!!

We were watching “America: The Story Of Us” and had just begun the part on the Texas oil rush. The narrator was going on and on about how this particular well was the largest natural reserve of oil on the planet. As he is listening, EE gets this concerned look on his face. (Uh-OH!) He turns to DH and says,”Hey – What happens when we run out of oil?”

Dumbfounded, DH replies to EE that this was an excellent question and one that many people are trying to answer. We then get a 20 minute lecture from our son about the need for alternative energy sources and how we are robbing the planet of her natural resources. He had this ah-ha moment. He was genuinely concerned. At this point I am wondering whether or not he is going to sleep tonight or if he is going to attempt to solve the oil crisis in his mind while the rest of the country sleeps. DH (whether on pure instinct or not) sees the potential powder keg brewing in our child’s emotional psyche. He quickly diverts him to solutions. “What do you think we should do?”

EE then starts rattling off things like battery cars, sun power, wind power, etc. We address each as he speaks. Tell him that many great minds are working on this but that several of the solutions are not cost effective. (Which was a whole other spin off conversation.) When we resume talking about ‘solutions’, frustrated we finally hear “Well I think the President needs to fix this!” We tell him that he is trying and DH suggests that he write a letter. “I think I will.”

I then ask him what he can do? He looks at me incredulously. You know the look. The ‘mom-I-am-just-a-kid’ look. I say to him. We need people who are smart to work on this problem. IF you are truly passionate about this issue, then what you CAN do is – study. Become an excellent mathematician and scientist. Those are the kinds of people who will are going to find the solutions…scientists, engineers, etc. Finally I think to myself – a good argument to the debate over why do I have to go to school. Something tangible and concrete to point out the next time Monty Hall tries to ‘make a deal’.

Now if I could just get the school not to leave my child and all the other brilliant little scholars behind. To steal a phrase, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste”. It is about time that this nation gets their heads out of the sand and stops wasting the time and talent of our future scientist, lawyers, doctors, teachers and yes – politicians. I think it is time for me to write some letters too.

Tonight my dear friend and I went to a OE workshop given by our school district. In a room filled with maybe 15 people – I thought to myself, this is such an unrecognized aspect of education and “caring” for our children but SO important! We know the importance as we live the meltdowns, the over reactions, etc.

I took away a few things on the subject that I was compelled to share immediately with my husband upon coming home from the workshop and now I will share with you.

1. Don’t ignore your child’s OE’s as if they don’t exist – respect them enough as people to respond to their over response.

2. You are not able to “change” your children (or your spouse) – they are who they are. They are MORE EXTREME

3. Ask yourself during a OE moment – “What does it matter?” or “Does it really hurt anyone?” My son does not like the feel of paint on his hands – does it matter that I will not be getting a painted picture from him in school – no – there are so many other areas he expresses creativity.

4. “RISK” – this was my favorite part of the workshop tonight. The word came up in a dual context. The word was used in a gifted group as a vocabulary word that many children were not familiar with; the word is also (as I learned tonight) something so many of our overexcitable kids have reactions to because they are afraid of it. RISK – to try something new and possibly fail. To a perfectionist ( a trait very common among gifted children) this is a scarey aspect. I liked this aspect so much because of how I left my house tonight for the workshop. My 4-year-old son was on the computer doing a math game (adding subtracting) and when things got “hard” for him, he shut off the program. My last words to him before leaving tonight were ” it’s OK not to get the correct answer – that’s how you learn.”

Before going to the workshop my co-editor and I enjoyed a quite child free dinner – talking about our children. I shared a story of how my son asked what selfish ment today. I used examples of him in our family to define the word for him. The day came full circle for me tonight when listening to te OE workshop and the items mentioned above. I leave with you this; that of which I discovered tonight – Don’t be selfish when it comes to parenting your OE child. It might not make sense to us or fit into “our” plan, but respect their sensitivities enough to not ignore them and wish they (the OE’s) didn’t exist. Tonight I appreciate my child’s OE’s and all the “more” he and she have to offer. (Tomorrow might be another story 🙂