Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Holy cow, a BLOG TOUR?!?

Announcing the 2013 Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour, June 14th - June 21st.
As the primary update-writer here at Homeschooling Hatters,  I am very excited to be participating in the Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour 2013 from June 14th-21st.
This international blog tour is organized by parents who met on The Well Trained Mind Message boards.
We come from different parts of the world, different school choices, and different social and economic backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common. We know that parenting a gifted child can sometimes be as challenging as it is rewarding. If you have ever woken up at 3 AM in the morning wondering What am I going to do with this child?” then this blog tour is for you!

From June 14th-21st the Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour will discuss some of the most pertinent issues facing gifted education today: 

There is still room for more contributions, so please email teachingmybabytoread at gmail dot com if you are interested in joining the tour!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Advocacy, Littles, and Homeschool.

I didn't really think I'd need to put any effort into advocacy for Monkey. I mean, he's four - what advocating can be done at four? He's in a play-based preschool, and Taekwondo is purely learning physical discipline.  Not hard to pull that together. Plus, we're homeschoolers, which means I am his teacher, principal and aide, so who do I need to advocate with?  But last night, I was popping in and out of #gtchat, and I realized that I'm going to need to be doing a lot more advocating than I thought.

Firstly, with external classes. I can't teach this child everything. Eventually, he's going to need more than I can give, and in the sciences department, I can see that point coming sooner rather than later. But, honestly, if his interest level keeps up, I'm going to need to find an anatomy and physiology professor who is willing to take on an 8 year old. Not likely at any bracket, but especially trying to later convince a university professor to take on a 10 year old.  Good luck. I'll need practice before I get to that point, and things like getting him into academics-lite courses via the park district seems a good place to start. Something we're not so attached to that if my efforts fail, it's a catastrophe, and a place to start so that when I do need to talk to a professor, I can do so capably.

Then there's neighbors. People automatically assume that all children of the same age/grade are alike. As I use Monkey's chronological age to drive what grade he's in (our homeschool junior-kindergarten curriculum ran the gamut of K-3, and our senior kindergarten will likely go K-4), people assume he's just like other kindergarteners. This afternoon, however, he explained to his Hammie why blood cells are bright red versus purple-y, and what makes the difference - including using the word "oxygenation" - and where the oxygen goes once it leaves the blood, and how it gets reoxygenated. Not a 'normal' kindergartener in any respect. However, when people approach him expecting an average 4-5yo child, it will be my job to jump in and make sure everything goes moderately well. This happens with his doctor as well - often Monkey's words are discounted in favor of my own, which is useful at times, but when I'm trying to teach him to tell the doctor himself what hurts, aches, or just feels off, it's difficult when the doctor simply talks over him or ignores him. So, more advocacy it is.

Lastly, there is family.  Family, oddly as it seems, is either all-or-nothing. People either understand that Monkey is simultaneously 4 years old physically, 9 years old cognitively, and 2 years old emotionally... or they don't grok the concept at all. It is especially frustrating when you consider that we often spend time with people who just don't get it. Because Monkey is intellectually capable of more, they expect that he will behave "appropriately" for his cognitive age - even at the park, or while playing outside, or determining if he can wait until after dinner for a sucker.  They don't understand that his emotional development lags behind, and that he is often not at all capable, no matter how much he wants to, of performing to their expectations. Where advocacy comes in... that's where I need to work harder. People are fond of calling Monkey out on his faults, because it seems he's not trying - he's not matching up to his intellectual, or even chronological, age - therefore he must be simply being belligerent. I need to do a better job of stepping in and explaining that NO. This is not a reasonable expectation for him, and we need to adjust accordingly. I don't care if he just told you that he had bacteria in his system causing him to have a cough, that doesn't mean he's not going to run off exploring at the dinosaur museum.

Really, advocacy seems to be part and parcel of any parent's life, but especially if you have children who are not normal across the board. And it's something I need to work on, because as it stands, I haven't fully found my footing or even my confidence. But, knowing it's something that needs work is half the battle, and it gives me the chance to really think about it, and try to get it together for Monkey... and for me.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Four Going on Fourteen.

Not an uncommon phenomenon, apparently.

No matter how much I want to bang my head into the wall, no matter how wonderful the "terrible" twos were (I'm serious! The worst part of two was having to repeatedly explain why we don't dance on the dining room table.), no matter how strange three was... Four has been hell. Absolute hell.

Now, some of this was mitigated by finding a provider that would listen to me. This netted us a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder / Sensory Seeking Behaviors.  We incorporated some additional sensory experiences into our days, and things got better - at least, from a physical standpoint.

But the mental... oh, the mental. This morning, I woke up at 6:30 when Monkey came to lay down in my bed with me. Naked. I'm not sure why he was naked, but it was 6:30 in the morning, and I didn't much care. By the time 7:00 rolled around, it was clear he wasn't going to go back to sleep. So, he played with cars in the bed so I could, theoretically, get some more sleep. Then the whining began. "Mommy, I wanna watch something on TV!" When I declined the whining for Mario Brothers, he sulked for a few minutes, then stood up and jumped, deliberately driving both knees into my sternum. This was punishment for making him "very disappointed" in me.  He got sent to his room, I got to try to breathe again. After half an hour of making sure nothing was broken, calming my temper, and trying to decide through sleep-fog how to handle this mess, I got out of bed and went to his room.

Monkey wasn't in his room. He was, in fact, in the living room, where he had decided "screw this, I'm playing Minecraft."  He was sent back to his room, and The Drama Llama stampeded into town. He was hysterical. Sobbing. Completely fell apart at the seams. I held my ground, because really, when I say "go to your room" after someone nearly breaks my ribs, I don't mean "go reward yourself with a game of Minecraft, good job." So, up to his room he went. Still naked as a jaybird.

I actually got dressed (you see, I wanted to handle things ASAP, so I was still in pajamas!), then followed the shrieking sobs to Monkey's room, where he was curled up in a chair, sobbing under his monkey blanket. Naturally, I feel like the meanest mom ever, but my chest was still sore, so I knew I wasn't quite that mean. I'd intended to have a discussion with him about why he got sent to his room, but there's no discussing things with someone that far gone. So, I told him he could come out when he felt he was ready, and I would talk to him in the living room.

He came down with me, sobbing about being hungry, and wanting to play more Minecraft. When he was told I'd get him something to eat, but No More Minecraft, the sobbing began again, now with bonus shrieking. We got downstairs, and I got him some cereal. It was still before 9:00 am at this point. I bring out cereal, and ask him to pick out some clothes from the pile of just-done laundry. He sobs that he doesn't NEED clothes, he needs covers to keep him warm. Discuss clothes as portable covers, and get him dressed, then under a blanket on the couch. Hand over the cereal, and we have more sobbing because he doesn't want cereal, he wants hamburgers. I now finally get both food and drink and his melatonin into him, and he sits to chill out.

All this in my first hours of the day.  And it wasn't over yet. Still to come was more whining, more sobbing, and more accusatory "you did that on purpose!" shouting. All over whether or not he will be playing Minecraft and/or watching television. Needless to say, I was sitting at the edge of hucking the television out the door to see it smash on the sidewalk... until I remembered I have both Star Trek:The Next Generation and Supernatural to watch, and I really would be pissed if I'd smashed the television before I could.

Apparently, this is not an uncommon thing for parents of gifted kids. This is, in fact, likely part and parcel of the whole gifted package. When your child is mentally 8, physically 4, and emotionally 2, strife is incredibly likely. He wants the independence afforded to a child his mental age, but he is physically unable to handle the prerequisites - things like turning on lights - and emotionally unable to cope when he can't have whatever it is he feels he should. Essentially, it really is much akin to the teenage years - come early.

Now, with Monkey being "only" four, I obviously don't have all the answers. All I can do is hang on and hope that those that went before are right - this too shall pass, and what we do now matters. It will make a difference, and the teenage years won't seem as bad as the neurotypical child's teenage years. By the time my gifted child gets to his teen years, meltdowns, hormonal fluctuations, frustration, sobbing, anger and general Drama Llamas Enter To The Left will be old hat around here. So maybe, just maybe, this is simply preparation for the future, and we'll find the teen years to be easier for it.

Hey, whatever keeps me going through the day... including the Orange Cream Swirl I have waiting for me this evening courtesy of Mr Seagram.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Monkey versus Training: Ready.... FIGHT!

It is official. Yesterday, I signed Monkey up for Taekwondo for the month of May. His teacher (who shall be referred to as Sir), is a great guy, who is really good with Monkey, as well as the other kids in the class. Sir is what made the difference.

Yesterday, Monkey received his uniform and his belt. Monkey also, in his third class, spent 35 of 45 minutes sitting on the sidelines.

You see, Monkey wants to train. He wants to go to Taekwando in the worst way, and he avidly looks forward to training when he's not there. When class is over, he wants more class.  The problem? Monkey is a very... intense... child, as I told SirC, who owns the dojang. Monkey wants to do things his way, all the time, regardless of what others are doing. Of course, this is part of why he's in a martial art in the first place, but still. Monkey is also very bad at the idea of practice. He doesn't understand that he will not automatically be good at everything he tries, and that some things take practice. He also doesn't understand that the other kids are better than he is because they practice, and have been training for a long time.

Yesterday, Monkey was excited to go train. He dashed out the door to the car, looking forward to training with the kids and Sir. Then... we got to the dojang. Once there, Monkey had to be physically stopped in order to remove his shoes. Then, all three of us (this will be the last adventure of Skeeve joining us) went back to the Little Dragons class. The first thing Monkey did? He ran for the bench and sat down. Why? Because his "legs needed air. And lungs. My lungs need air, too, for my blood."  Once he finally agreed to actually take part in the training, he stood on his mark for approximately three minutes. Then he came running back to the bench. He needed air again. He was invited back to train, and he did, kicking a target twice. Then he dropped out of the line and Sir told him to sit if he wasn't going to train. Monkey sat for 90% of the remaining time, only choosing to rejoin training during the closing - the bows and thank yous.

I have no idea why this is. He isn't having any trouble breathing, yesterday was the first day he wasn't pretending to be either Black Widow or The Incredible Hulk, and he wasn't "jumping on bad guys like Mario Brothers!" so I'm at a loss as to exactly what happened here.

However, this is fairly typical for our days. Times like this is why "We are all mad here" is utterly appropriate. I had a nice conversation with SirC about Monkey, what we would like to see happen here, how Skeeve and I can best support his development with the team, and that SirC and Sir should absolutely let us know if there is anything we can do to help them help him to focus his energy and drive. However, with a child that has Intellectual, Imaginational, Sensual, and Psychomotor overexcitabilities, as well as Sensory Processing/Seeking issues and suspected ADHD (hyperactive-impulsive), I strongly suspect this will not be as easy as we have been led to believe. I am hoping, however, that we will make it through, and come out the other side all of us stronger for the challenge.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

In matters of style...

I think I'm going to shoot for realism around here. I don't think, for the moment, that I have the energy to try for wit, humor, or even grace. I think I'm just going to go with the daily "oh, my GOD, what have I gotten into?!?" and see where it takes me.  That way, I might not even have to work too hard at keeping myself sane!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A brief word of welcome.

Blogging is a new venture for me. At least, blogging in a generally public venue is.

Talking about my family's giftedness - in public and unashamedly - is entirely new to me.

Pardon me while I break this in. The blog will probably squeak at tight corners for a while, but once I get the hang of it, I have hope it will go well.