Monday, November 17, 2014

Finding Community

Sitting on the verge of pneumonia, it's pretty easy to see where community would be really handy. Someone to keep an eye on Mad Natter for a couple hours so I could sleep would have been a dream come true, but it shook out that Skeeve had to work, and our physical community... Well, either they were working too, or they were five hundred miles away wishing they could help, even though we all knew it just wasn't possible. It's one of those rare times that online community just doesn't help - about six hours before I finally fell incredibly ill, my brains started dribbling out my ears and I couldn't understand what my usually wonderfully adroit friends and comrades were saying, and worse, they couldn't understand me anymore either.

But, you see, I get sick - really sick - probably once every two or three years. The last time was spring of 2012, and before that.. I don't even remember. So having a physically present community isn't an issue terribly often.  It'd be nice, yes, but being able to connect, even if it's just digitally, with other people who are there, have been there, or just get it, is so incredibly necessary. Let me give you an example.

I want to kvetch about Mad Natter and spelling.  He's taking forever about it, treating the tiles as toys, inventing stories to tell why and how the tiles came to leave the line and form the words, and it takes forever to spell anything. Even simply moving from "clue" to "blue" and then to "due" is a five minute stretch of jumping and dancing, storytelling and goofing around. But then it's woah, WOAH, WOAH.  Mad Natter is six. Why is he spelling "clue" in the first place? Or "give?" Six year old spelling lists should have words like "big" and "in" and "sit" and "six." Why am I complaining? Why am I working him so hard? What is wrong with me that I'm not happy with what he's doing?

Thing is, when I'm talking to the people who get it, what the words are, aside from "I need him to change out the 'c' for a 'b', and it's taking for-ev-er!!" are irrelevant. They immediately see the crux of the problem - that I think I'm providing appropriately challenging work, and there are still issues with dawdling and attention - and do what they can to not only help me figure out whether or not there are solutions, but to remind me that it's a phase. This, too, shall pass. That other people have the same issues, that it's not just us, I'm not alone. People I met through #gtchat have been an incredible help. Then I got to know them on Facebook, too.  And then I found Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. Talking with all these people has helped me create enough of a bubble around myself that I am able to forget that I am raising an outlier. I'm able to talk to other parents the same way I would overhear parents chatting at preschool, the way other parents talk to each other at homeschool meetings. Granted, it's a little disconcerting when the outside world creeps its way into my bubble, but I can't express how valuable it is to have that social outlet.

Even more valuable, for me, at least, is actually some of the supporting member areas of GHF - namely the Groups, specifically the Venting Place. It gives me an outlet to talk about things that are challenging without the potential for immediate misunderstanding, defensiveness, or judgement. When you're a member of an extremely minority community (and a max of 5% of the population is, by definition, an extreme minority!), you learn to take community where you can find it, create it where you can't, and rely heavily on things like Hoagies, #gtchat, and the now 10-year-old Gifted Homeschoolers Forum to keep you from having to recreate the wheel. Physical community is nice. It really is. But barring that, having a large community of wonderful people living in my computer, helping me keep what remains of my sanity is, undoubtedly, a blessing.

This post has been a part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum's blog hop, Finding Community. Please click through and see what others have to say on the topic!