In the heat of a summer moment, I find myself feeling like I just opened a gift on Christmas morning. It was one of those mornings where you’re unsure how it’s going to go (especially since it was the often-dreaded Monday), though you hold the hope of a good day. Little did I know it would turn out to be a Christmas of sorts and I would receive two gifts.
My gifts were not wrapped with careful consideration and sported no brilliant bows of red, but they were two of the best gifts I could ask for. My children demonstrated their love of learning- both on the same day.
It sounds a bit melodramatic to say that both of my sons embraced learning for one day and that I somehow perceive this as a special moment, but I do. Let me tell you more.
My oldest is just entering the teen years. You know those times when kids often become less focused on learning and more focused on the opposite sex, sports teams, or grabbing for any opportunity of freedom that comes around. Instead, mine is embracing learning again and it has everything to do with a label that reads, “gifted”.
This morning, on the drive to school, he asked if we could stop by the library after school. It wouldn’t have touched my heart so much except that this child used to practically live at the library (and at home surrounded by tons of books) when he was young, but fell out of touch with his love of learning once his formal schooling journey began. He did “enough work” during school. Why would he read outside of school? It broke my heart, but I also knew that I often felt the same way when I was in school. I snapped out of it eventually, so he would too; wouldn’t he?
Over the years, Captain Underpants and game guides were the only tethers between my son and the world of reading. Thank you, Dav Pilkey and Nintendo. We’ve owned almost every Dav Pilkey book printed. At first, I resisted those two styles of reading, but as he grew farther away, I embraced any way I could to draw him back in. I frequented a local used book store and bought game guides for games he didn’t even own. He didn’t care and I was just happy he was reading.
Today, he asked to visit the library, but this past week, he’s been there 3 times with me. Three times doesn’t sound like much, but when your child takes a long reprieve from something close to your heart, you know how lucky you are when you realize he may be coming back.
He’s coming back because though I knew my kids were different (like me), I never connected the dots. People can say labels mean nothing, but like finding your biological mother tells you more about yourself, “gifted” was the label on a gift that we never knew was meant for us. It gave us a place in the world that we never realized until recently. Since then, we talk about our excitabilities, share our struggle with perfectionism and our quirky sense of humor, and revel in our voracious need to know it all. Until recently, we never knew those gifts were ours. We never unwrapped our gifts to discover what was inside.
Knowing and understanding didn’t solve our problems, but it gave us perspective. It explained so much and opened our eyes enough to realize the wonderful surprise a Christmas morning could bring. Those gifts are ours…to keep.
My hope is that my oldest son won’t lose his gift along the way. I did during my teenage years in an effort to fit in. I pushed it all aside. My hope is that as he’s just finding his gift, he will keep it close to him. Beginning his journey back to voracious reading (which he’s demonstrating already)and embracing his curiosity is a priceless gift I cherish. If he does lose it, I know he’ll get it back. It’s a part of him that will always be inside.
But my day wasn’t over yet. My youngest son also had a gift for me.
My youngest son is the child who wears you out or lifts you beyond. We’ve been struggling to find just the right amount of challenge sprinkled with just enough interest in our homeschooling journey this year. We hit a rough patch recently and have been struggling to find a way that learning works for both of us as we evolve. Today, was a glittering spectacle of excitement and surprise. It came wrapped in a dinosaur package.
Okay, so it wasn’t literally a dinosaur package. It wasn’t even a dinosaur or a package. It was a worksheet (which we both usually despise), but it served its purpose talking etymology for mom and talking dinosaurs (thanks, Jurassic World) at the same time for my son. My son worked independently while I raced around getting ready to fill the space when he professed his anticipated frustrations. Instead, I got above and beyond work ethic and products for the remainder of the day. His shining glory was the dinosaur he created just for fun. I love his polycyclopteroaquasaurus!
The gifts kept coming as he continued with filling out paperwork for a science investigation that he was initially less than enthusiastic about, but later embraced. He worked on his independent study with new found fervor, and was again excited about learning.
It was a blessed day. It was a day when I received two of the greatest gifts I know. I saw a love of learning in my both of my children’s eyes rekindled. It’s still there.
I don’t care what I get for Christmas this year. I’ve already received my gifts.