Parenting the Gifted

FEELING LIKE A GREAT PARENT

I find myself extremely lucky to have three highly developed children with above average abilities in intelligence as well as motor skills and emotions. The defining trait of my two boys and my little girl is consistently empathy. They are all emotionally and academically intelligent. Their abilities far surpass my ability to fill their brains up with the knowledge that they crave. I spend all of my time trying to do just that. It’s been this way since the day my first son was born. He’s been read to almost every day of his life. He’s been told, shown, and taught to the best of my abilities what is right and wrong, and how to handle different situations properly. His siblings have received the same treatment to the best of my abilities. Motherhood was not a difficult task for me as I took to it in a way that I considered a lifelong plan to develop his and his siblings’ character and their minds. It was all wine and roses watching him develop so profoundly. When he started to have a closer eye on him by pre-kindergarten professionals, by way of PARENTS AS TEACHERS, I started to realize that the massive intelligence we had on our hands was not the norm for most preschool parents.

THE REALIZATION

The DIAL testing they do through parents as teachers is the assessment they use to gauge the kindergarten readiness of a preschool aged child. My son received a 99/100. The highest score possible. This is when everything started to come into light. I was dealing with what the MAPS assessment defined as possibly an actual genius. But with  great knowledge comes great sensitivity.

A GROWN UP MIND AND A SIX YEAR OLD BODY

Day to day living with my son, you wouldn’t really think anything of his superior intelligence, until he opened his mouth. His vocabulary is astounding. His empathy is unmatched by the greater majority of the human population. His calculations, both mathematical and strategic are incredible to watch unwind before you. When you look at the boy, you see the spark of intelligence in his eyes. He has the ability to learn from other people’s lessons and build upon it. As NEIL DeGRASSE TYSON stated on his series “COSMOS”, the unique quality of the human mind that sets it apart from other life on Earth is the ability to recognize patterns. This is what helps us build upon knowledge we have organized in our minds and build upon it. By the standards of my own personal experience, and with no actual bias, believe me when I say that my son is in the upper crust of that trait that sets us apart.

LOW POINTS OF HIGH INTELLIGENCE

If there is anything to the phrase “the smarter you are, the less happy you are”, my household is the most unhappy. There is a real and true love that we bestow as well as show on a daily basis. They are loved and cared for. The only trouble is, when my son has a problem, there is an obsessive focus on negative outcome possibilities. He is constantly troubled by the possibility of a meteoric event, volcanic activity, tornadic storms, or even the spontaneous combustion of a household appliance in the night. Another troubling faction of the gift of high intelligence at such a young age is the inability to express the thoughts going through your head in a way that your speech can keep up with. There are so many hysterical instances where my son cannot explain the way that he is feeling and with the inability to arrange his feelings in a productive way, he is left feeling helpless or out of control of things that happen to him. That is a defining trait of a gifted child. Asynchronous development. His reading level is at about 7th grade, his mathematical ability is about 5th grade, and his emotional processing is at a kindergarten level at times. The amplification of the non-emotional surplus is a serious factor in making the emotional capabilities seem even more lagging than they are.

HOME LIFE WITH A MINI EINSTEIN

My son spends his time cataloging the health points, levels and attack power of different Pokémon. The catalog is in his head. If you have time, and want to learn about Pokémon, he has made videos on YouTube. He is an amazing conversationalist. A true empath at heart he really connects with parables, as well as with plights of his younger siblings. On the flip side, he also has to have ample warning of any events such as turning off a game, getting ready for bed, leaving for an outing. If there is not enough warning on any event he will not be able to adjust in the way he needs to and will become hysterical. He likes to build electronics with a snap circuit kit he received for his birthday. He fills dozens of notebooks with his drawings, writing and highly detailed Pokémon cards he designs himself.

OUTLOOK

Things are getting better for my son. The things that used to be a huge obstacle, such as getting his hair washed or cut, being examined at the doctor’s office, or using a mechanical pencil, they have all become old news. We made the proper adjustments and gave a proper warning for years, and finally, after 6 years, he has overcome most of these things. He does still have a deathly and hysterical fear of insects. He gets inconsolable when he imagines scenarios in which the fire alarm goes off in the house. But we accept his quirks, we adjust our plans to help him cope and proceed as we always have, and I am happy to say that although he does still need insect repellent bracelets to go to the zoo, and I am most likely going to have to do a smoke alarm fire drill to make sure he gets any sleep tonight. I don’t mind adjusting his needs, I never did. But now I can breathe a little easier now that I know, whatever comes this too shall pass.

Human Connection: A Must for the Modern Child

 

MACHINE PARENTING MAKES ROBOT CHILDREN

The dynamic of a family is no longer based upon the love and support of a caring set of parents or a single parent striving to make a better life for their children. It is centered around whoever thinks they deserve the most attention within the family unit at the time. Parents are letting their children grow up without a human connection on a deeper level that most humans crave. A deep connection and understanding with one parent or sibling can mean the difference between good and bad mental health in a young child as well as into their adulthood.

EVERY FAMILY MEMBER DESERVES LOVING ATTENTION

The family life of any given unit of individuals can usually be predicted as a race to be the most preoccupied with the greatest amount of electronic devices possible. Children are given tablets to keep them occupied. The electronics of today have become the basis for the personality of our children, as well as having become the primary caregiver of many children in the US today.

WHY DON’T I MIND MY OWN BUSINESS?

All of this seems to be, to the perusing reader, merely a complaint, and commentary on the sadness of what things have come to in the last ten years as far as attention towards younglings and involved parenting goes. However, I can assure you there is more to it than that. In fact, this is my way of asking you, the reader, if you will stay with me, because I love my babies, you love your babies, and we want what is best for them. to please look your children in the eyes when you speak to them. Set time aside in your day, every day to enjoy your time with them and make it a special point to know that you value their opinions and you are always there for them to talk to. It is so important for a human person to have human connections to maintain their mental health.

MAKE THE MOMENTS MATTER

Please look your children in the eyes when you speak to them. Set time aside in your day, every day to enjoy your time with them and make it a special point to know that you value their opinions and you are always there for them to talk to. It is so important for a human person to have human connections to maintain their mental health.

NO ONE WANTS TO GROW UP ALONE

Think back to your childhood. Were you all alone all of the time? Did you have anyone to look up to? Did you have anyone that understood you and looked at you as though they wanted nothing else but to be there with you, and who, when they hugged you, you knew they meant it and that they were to be trusted? Most people, even the loneliest and most poorly treated people have someone who they look up to as a child and grow up to want to model themselves after. For myself, I was lucky enough to have a personal investment of a few people, especially my big brother and sister who talked to me like they cared about me, and made me feel loved.When you have someone that you can be emotionally intimate with, you are able to access and process your emotion and thereby learn to handle them.

TO HAVE SOMEONE THAT CARES

Does your child have that? Have you been that person for them? For most people, I would guess that the answer is no. It’s true that everyone has a life and everyone stays busy, in my house this is especially true. The difference in my house is that although we are very busy, I always, always set aside a special time with each of my babies so that they know they are special to me. So that they know that I love them and that I find them far more important than a video game, or an email, or what’s on television that I don’t want to miss. It’s true that we are busy but we are sure to show each other that each of us is more interested in our family than the hustle and bustle that we have to attend to.

SET ASIDE TIME FOR THEM

Have I been guilty of neglect in this area from time to time? PLEASE! It took us ages to get our acts cleaned up and focus on what’s important. The primary thing to remember is that it’s never too late to improve the lives of your children by increasing your one on one time. There is always time to improve your relationship with them. All it takes is for you to do little things to show that they are important. Get up early and make them breakfast. Surprise them by waiting for them to get off the bus. If you work late, wake them up for a snuggle and a little talk. Take advantage of the little opportunities, and you will see the benefit it does to their mental and emotional health.

 

 

12654633_10156473963715147_3170224069259108172_nJoanie stays up late at night wondering if she’s “Mommied” properly that day. She loves her hubs and has an oddly mistaken idea that the weekend still means she gets to sleep in.

 

 

 

5 Revelations to Surviving the Summer with Young Children

Just in time for the weekend, let’s talk about ways to keep the kiddos happy and cool! (Because as we all know, a hot kid is a cranky and gripey kid!) There are no words to describe the misery of a hot summer day. Too hot to go out, and too sweaty to play. You just sit in your house all that hot, muggy day. With a less than efficient air conditioning system and 3 bedrooms, 2 floors and 5 people to keep cool, the day-to-day struggle to keep the heat to a minimum at all times of the day and well into the humid night is real! Here are some tips from personal experience that can make a big difference when it comes to cooling down the rowdy kinder.

Cover the windows! My husband knows that if it’s getting hot, I don’t really put too much worry into what he thinks is tacky looking. Making a physical barrier between the heat radiating from even a well-sealed window will help a room cool down more quickly.

Keep Clothes to a Minimum!  Of course, if you order pizza, you’re going to be embarassed by your kids one way or another (“Mommy, is that my daddy?”, “Mommy, why is that man so big? He must’ve eaten all of his dinner!”). The point being, don’t make them wear clothes if they do not need them, on the other hand, it is important to be clothed in public or in the presence of anyone other than immediate (and non-creepy) family.

Make Them Drink Water! This seems like a no-brainer but I swear upon the souls of my ancestors that some kids (like mine) would rather die of thirst than drink anything besides a fruit flavored drink. My solution? A very cool and grown up looking travel water bottle. Even my eldest son (who thinks he’s smarter than every other human being on the planet) has succumbed to consuming the element which brings life.

Block the Rays of the Hideous Sun Demon! Sounding like your mother in law yet? No? It doesn’t sound like mine. I am in that glorious generation where I am baffled at the careless ease of which  people let their children play outside without sun protection. Of course, my porcelain skinned sweeties can’t o out for 5 minutes without burning up. I’m afraid I blame myself, having had a heat stroke at a tender preschool age. Of course, even if you don’t have fair-skinned children, go ahead and google image search “melanoma”, and you’ll grease those little stinkers up faster than a house gets trashed by toddlers (boy, is that fast!!)

Popsicles and Bathtubs are Your Friends! I know you hate cleaning up the syrupy popsicle mess, and the gallons of water they splash on the floor, but you have to keep them cool, and they’ll never stay cool if you don’t make them sit still with something cool to eat, or to sit in. I know that bath time can be nerve-wracking (“Jackson, don’t try to drown your sister!”), but the decrease in crankiness will be exponential and you might even cool down yourself!

Or, when all else fails, there’s always the hobo bath in the wading pool, on the front lawn, for all the neighbors to see and deride your parenting skills and personal integrity while watching your middle child water the grass with his very clear urine whilst you are tending to the baby eating ants. Just remember, your family is your priority, stay relaxed, stay calm and above all keep those kids (and yourself) cool!

 

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The Dreaded Night of C.I.O. (cry it out)

Since the dawn of man there have been helpless and brain fried mommies who have tried for hours on end to comfort their screaming, crying, ball of precious human larvae. Assuming that big papa caveman didn’t just smash the loud ones against a wall to keep the wolves from hearing it, at some point, every mommy in history has come to that point where she begins to consider a horrifying idea. Every mommy in the history of motherhood has thought, after hours of screaming and shushing and struggling in vain to help, “what if I just let the baby cry?” The mere introduction of the thought forces self-reprobating on a very personal level. “If I do that,” our exhausted mommy thinks, “What kind of mommy does that make me? Will the police come and arrest me for neglect? Will my baby hate me?”

With my first child, crying it out was not an option. I, like so many other mothers before me, dedicated my time and energy to attending to my son at the slightest indication of discomfort, even if nothing helped, I held him for hours, sometimes crying, sometimes telling jokes and singing songs trying to get some reaction besides tears out of him. I never gave up on trying to comfort him, and also never gave up on letting him sleep on me every night.

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With baby #2 I followed in the same fashion, except unexpectedly I started working at night when he would go to bed, so my husband broke him in to sleeping in his own bed. The first night I was off after he started sleeping in his crib instead of with us, I cried and begged my husband to let me get him. I was very upset but within minutes, he had calmed himself down, and fallen asleep!!!

My first thought was, “YOU MEAN THAT HE HAS BEEN ABLE TO CALM HIMSELF THIS WHOLE TIME?” My second thought was, “my baby is out of my bed! Finally time for frisky business!”

After the frisky business ensued (crowd cheers) and I was left alone to my own musings while my dearest love snored like a rhinoceros, I was so lonely, thinking to myself that I would never have my face be the pillow of one of my dear and firmly kicking brood. Never would I awake to a crookedly place diaper leaking on my belly again. (Sounds crazy, but you don’t know what love is until you wake up in a puddle of baby’s pee and you just stay awake long enough to get baby dry and go back to sleep with baby pee on you.)

After the loss of my middle child to the “big boy” bed, I was given another slumber party buddy in my daughter. However, once again, I was employed in the evening and I did not break her of sleeping with me, but nevertheless she was broken. Through my husband’s overwhelming conviction to have me to himself in our bed, he took the burden upon himself to hear her cry it out. He was the strong one in these situations, and I did not have to deal with it.

Thank goodness. Now we are trading our youngest from a crib sleeping baby to a toddler bed baby. This is my first test of being able to stick to the process of breaking her of an old habit, and letting her, if necessary, cry it out.

Last night was the first night of the mommy-run cry it out session… I have never encountered such an evil, heartless, and mommy-motivated trickster! The terror! The anguish! The freakily strong baby muscles!

Sometimes when my sweet littles are asleep I stand next to their bed with my hand over my mouth in awe at how beautiful they are, reflecting on just what perfectly wonderful people they’re turning out to be, I start to tear up, and I tell myself I am not biased, I have created the most perfect people ever to be born in the history of baby-making. Last night I revoked these claims (temporarily). Last night my perfect and beautiful blonde haired, blue-eyed Disney princess baby girl turned into a horrible harpy from hell.

Some of you might be thinking, Joanie, why would you call your own spawn a demon from the fiery pits of the abyss? But never have you seen the likes of the transformation of my adorable Precious Moments flaxen-haired angelic baby girl into an angry, starved shark that has smelled the blood of a weak injured fish and wants to rip the flesh from the skin whilst breath is still being drawn.

She screamed like a baby possessed by the devil, who wanted to feast on my blood “Mommy! MOMMY!” she did not ask for me, she demanded me. She broke down the baby gate, she ignored my comforting talk at her bedside, and forced her way to the gate, if I tried to stop her, she screamed at me and muscled her way towards the door. (This seems eerily false considering the sweetness of the little girl in question who is at this very moment asking me to make her stuffed monkey say “hoo-hoo” and sipping a juice box like a little lady).

After many times of trying to get past her angry and LOUD determination to get out of her room by any screaming, fit throwing, pleading and manipulating possible,

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I had to walk out of the room and rest myself upon the stairs nearby and cry (out of sight so I would not agitate the angry croc).

After a bout of screaming at her Daddy, spurred on by her behemoth feat of strength in breaking down the baby gate by her lonesome. She tried in vain to scare her daddy into letting her out of her bedroom. But when she started to pout a quiet cry to him, pleading with him, “daddy…daddddyyyy” I thought he was in her clutches, but he stood his ground, exited the room and never looked back, the brave soul.

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The first hour of my baby girl’s first night in a toddler bed was an actual, literal living hell, but after she screamed at us for

15 more minutes, we heard her go silent and VERY carefully peeked in on her, sweetly sleeping in a balled up fetus position on her toddler bed. She slept all night til morning.

It was a hard-won victory and a real endurance test for both of us, my husband has never had such an intense time with the babies and neither have I. EVER. It was worth it, however.

Tonight, on the second day of her big girl bed, I got her horsies and kitties ready, got her sippy cup and her ladybug star projector. Some love and kisses and mommy’s poor bunny rabbit made not a peep as I walked away from her, leaving the room; she went straight to sleep. The misery of her first night paid off, despite the guilt I will forever have about using the cry it out method. It worked.

It doesn’t seem like it was worth it, but it was important because, for one, we learned (and she did too) that she can sleep like a big girl, and also I learned never to cross her path again, because she might actually become possessed by Satan when in a fit of anger towards her Mommy and Daddy.

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Joanie is an over-thinker, under-acheiver, and a genuine dork who wants to be everyone’s mom. She routinely threatens unsavory children she finds lurking around her house, and she just might think she’s an elf.