Through my children, I discovered myself.
It was a long process, one that took me through 48 years feeling like an outcast while underestimating myself and my gifts. Though my realization came late in life, I still feel blessed in finally understanding. My mother died in her early 50s never realizing why she felt “different” and that pain will linger with me forever.
Now I know.
Now I understand so much.
And I owe it all to my children.
Rewind to 3 years ago and I was a disgruntled teacher. One who never understood why more teachers didn’t rail against the injustices in education, one who kept to herself and a few choice friends who understood, a teacher who gave every ounce for her work because that’s what I did and who I was. I was someone staring into the face of the end of my classroom teaching obsession without realizing it. I was done. I left in pieces. I was broken.
Little did I know, God was not only rearranging my life, but the life of my yet-to-be diagnosed gifted children.
Being home for several months after quitting, I finally was lucky enough to visit my children’s school and help out with events there. I imagined that their previous 11 hour days at school (thanks to my previous work schedule which meant before and after school care) would be gone and with it, so would any disgruntlement with school. Instead of feeling closer to my boys, the youngest felt farther away. Something was off. I had no idea how to fix things and thought given the closer proximity and more time we were able to spend together would naturally mean a calmer child. It seemed to have the opposite effect and so my research began.
I owe much of what I learned to Celi Trepanier. I identified with her family as she spoke to me through her blog about the struggles with her gifted boys. Though I imagined my own boys weren’t gifted, I read on watching my world align more and more with hers. She was and is an inspiration. Having a mentor like her, even one so far away and known only through the virtual world was priceless. She guided me onto a path I hadn’t considered-homeschooling.
I knew that my both of my sons had minimal academic challenges over the years and assumed, that as on my own path, it naturally came with who we are. Wasn’t school like that for everyone? It was easier as a child to do my own research on the side and save schoolwork and grade chasing for others. I never feared failing, but I never exerted any effort either. My kids were shaping up just like their mother. So, onward we trudged.
By the middle of third grade, I began to realize that my youngest child’s struggles weren’t getting any easier; instead, they were increasing. After several weeks of escalating temper tantrums, I withdrew my youngest child. Our path towards giftedness led right through a path to homeschooling- something I’d never imagined myself as a veteran public school teacher ever pursuing. The oldest chose to remain at school because of his friends.
I got to work pulling out previous classroom lessons that I’d used with great success, yet most fell flat with homeschooling. Some I had used with a multitude of children over the previous 20+ years, but they just weren’t clicking. We began another round of frustrations- the same ones I’d seen increase just before the choice to homeschool. I began to flounder. If as a teacher of grades 3 and 4 for most of my 20+ years, I couldn’t satisfy my own child’s needs when homeschooling, what kind of teacher had I been? Was my child really that difficult? I fine-tuned lessons, I researched, dabbled in unschooling, forced schooling, I tightened up, I loosened up. Nothing was working.
I began writing about my trials and tribulations and found comfort in other homeschool blogs. I kept gravitating towards blogs where the children were gifted. Why those? My child floundered at lessons he’d known since kindergarten. I contemplated testing, counseling, and more. I reached out to my husband whose response was to send him back to school.
Surely, there was a missing piece to this puzzle. It took me well into our 2nd year (my son’s 4th grade) to finally begin to understand. Could my son really be gifted? No way…but yet…lots of it made sense if he was gifted. I struggled to figure it all out. Research became my focus on days when the homeschooling crashed and burned. I was actually grateful for those days. I opened up dialogue with my son and took comfort in the fact that he was miles ahead of the 4th graders I’d taught.
Surely, time off would be no problem and could only serve to ease the burden. We ended the year with uncertainty. Close a chapter on my favorite grade in the classroom, yet my failing year as a homeschool mom. I vowed that grade 5 would be the “catch him up and send him back” year. I had no idea I was standing on a precipice.
I began to integrate more and more of my own approach towards teaching with son. These were ideas that were more “radical” in public schooling, but I knew in my heart of hearts they were highly valuable as I delved into the whys and hows of learning. My lesson planning days were about to take on an evolved perspective. I planned with and not for my child. Yet, something was still off.
Our grade 5 was a new awakening. Over the summer, I’d come to terms through my research that my son and I were both gifted. The characteristics blew me away. I devoured everything I could on the topic. Could it really be this EASY to solve? Accept and go forth? I knew my son was precocious from birth. Heck, even his 4 hour a night sleep schedule through the age of 1 was explained because he was “an alert baby”. I’d always thought my kids were smart, but don’t all parents?
I began wondering about myself too. We shared common characteristics. Over the summer, I secretly checked out the book The Gifted Adult from the library. I felt like an imposter doing so. My husband mocked me and my wild ideas that our son was anything but average (even while he answered questions from his 9th grade algebra textbook).
When it came to me being gifted, he smirked. Yeah, right. But, I read on.
My son, Celi, and Mary-Elaine Jacobsen soon rocked my world. I finally had the answer I’d been waiting for all my life and because of my son, it all made sense.
Since then, I’ve contacted both Celi and Mary-Elaine Jacobsen to thank them. They have no idea how much they’ve impacted my life. I’ve also discovered that my oldest is gifted too. Though we were all well entrenched in the mire of underachievement, and though we still struggle to pull out of that whirlpool, I now know it’s possible. It involves a lot of paddling harder, smarter, and with intention, but everything fits. It all makes sense now.
Now my children will have the chance I never did-to love learning and embrace their own giftedness.
Me? I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!