Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It's Parenting The Gifted Week!

Congratulations, all you wonderful folks raising gifted children, this is Your Week!  Jen, from Laughing at Chaos, is looking for suggestions on what kinds of things parents need - swing by and let her know what would make your life easier.  As for me, I have my own take on these things. What would make life easier? Recognition of the gifted poor.

NAGC views giftedness as achievement. What do you do, what have you accomplished, that you call yourself gifted?  Looking at our house, Skeeve in a call center, me a stay-home homeschooling mother, neither of us is gifted at all. We haven't accomplished enough. As a result, our child clearly cannot be gifted, or his parents would be successful as well, and as that is not true, then the conclusion follows.

SENG views giftedness as wiring. It is a function of who you are, not of what you do. The personalities living in this house are pretty much a dead ringer for three 2E people in one house. Skeeve and I clearly demonstrate this gifted wiring, despite our lack of high-paying careers, and our child demonstrates it as well - making us all quite clearly gifted.

Great!  So we know what organization we're likely to support - the one that supports us, right? Makes sense. But, there's a problem.

Both organizations have annual conferences and meetings. It's a wonderful opportunity for members of the gifted community - advocates and children alike - to gather in one place, learn a lot, meet each other face-to-face, and build relationships that will carry them through until the next conference. Or, you know, so I hear. Because to put it quite bluntly, we're too poor to attend. We have been completely eliminated from our own representative organizations because we're poor. Who is going to speak for the gifted poor, if the gifted poor aren't able to be present at the meetings where these things are discussed?

I did a whole bunch of research, hoping I'd be able to meet up with the wonderful advocates I know online at one of these conferences. Running the numbers, and if we're very careful, I could probably manage to attend one conference - ONE - every other year, more likely every third year. I could manage every year, sure, but we couldn't buy any curricula for Mad Natter. We couldn't enroll him in any sports, we couldn't enroll him in any classes. There are several classes he's in now that we've only managed to get him into because Skeeve got a surprise extra week of vacation pay, and we were willing to sacrifice getting parts of the car fixed, and saving money full stop, to get him in. We would have to spend the entirety of our tax return on airfare, and then Skeeve's vacation pay on the conference itself - every year. Needless to say, that's not a very feasible solution.

That's where the difference in the organizations strolls on in.  To attend the NAGC conference, it costs between $570 and $600 USD, depending on when you register. There is no children's programming beyond the first day, and they offer no scholarships. If you can't afford to join the NAGC, you're pretty much hosed. Then add in airfare. And hotel. And food. You're well over $1500 just that one conference week, and if you've brought your child with you, you have to find something to do with them for the duration of the conference - and if you haven't, you need to find something to do with them at home, both options which cost a fair amount more money. I don't know anyone personally who has $1500 kicking around not doing anything, and to be completely honest, if we had that $1500, I strongly suspect it would go to finding newer, more in-depth curricula for Mad Natter, in the hopes that a year's programming might actually last him an entire year (right now, our track record is one year lasting six months, though there have been some instances in which an entire year's worth of material has been completed inside of eight weeks). There is a very prominent reason why I don't have funds around - they go into trying to educate my child.

Fine. NAGC is likely out. I might be able to wrangle actually being in Phoenix during the conference (we have a friend who might be willing to put us up for the duration), but there's no way we could afford the conference itself.  What about SENG? Well, for starters, SENG has built-in children's programming. Yes, it makes up the difference between the cost of the SENG conference versus the NAGC conference, but you're not having to find childcare which would likely run you more than what you're paying in programming + airfare. SENG, for adults, runs about $350 to $425, depending on when you register. The kids programming is $265, full stop. SENG does offer a scholarship for one child and one adult, if you are able to prove financial hardship. However, one of the primary criteria for receiving the scholarship (I was not able to find any information on how many such scholarships are available) is that the applicant be "culturally diverse." Being a Canadian/American citizen is not culturally diverse. Being blindingly white is not culturally diverse. While I absolutely approve of the presence of scholarships for disadvantaged people of color - particularly to a gifted conference! - I am a little saddened that the only scholarships available are for families of color, regardless of the socioeconomic status of the applicant. Mostly, I wish that if there were ten scholarships available, one of them would be for any financially disadvantaged family. Just one. But, such is not the case. As a result, we run into the same problem with SENG as we did with NAGC. There just isn't enough money to go around. We simply cannot afford to participate in the organizations designed to represent us.

Now, there's some noise that SENG will be traveling to near Hammie and Buppa's house sometime in the next few years. If that is truly the case, we would be able to attend. Or, more specifically, I would be able to attend. Mad Natter would likely spend his time at Hammie and Buppa's instead, leaving me to conference however I like. Until then, though, I'm left to dream. To wonder what it's like to be surrounded by people who really get it,  to spend a week learning the very skills and information that might help our family plow forward without screaming at each other, to keep up to date on what may be coming down the pike for Mad Natter, what his educational options are, what they eventually will be, and how to make those things happen for him. To meet the friends who are, right now, words on a screen attached to old videos or clever avatars. To truly feel the support the gifted community has to offer.