Nobody tells you what you’re in for when you’re raising a gifted or 2E child. As homeschooling mom and blogger Mary Paul discovered, you pretty much end up educating yourself.
I had no idea what we were getting into.
I knew parenting would be hard – that’s assumed from the beginning with sleepless newborn nights and the steep learning curve of taking care of an infant. I didn’t know that it wouldn’t get easier.
I didn’t know that we would jump from one challenge to the next, hoping to catch our breath and pause in some blissful “normal” moment of development. That never happened.
I had no idea what it would be like to parent a child with special needs. When none of the parenting books fit, when none of the other parents had any idea what it was really like for us, and when the pediatrician just looked at me as I asked question after question, I began to realize how much I didn’t know. And I didn’t even know where to start looking.
Somewhere in my desperate, wide-ranging research across the internet, I stumbled on the term gifted. It wasn’t a word I knew well, even though I knew my husband was an indefinable more. I wasn’t familiar with the term itself but I stubbed my toes on gifted traits every single day.
The more I read, the more I realized “this is us!” Fluff articles became blog posts, blog posts turned into writing from the medical community, and then I delved into peer-reviewed journals on my journey to understand what we were living with.
We. The important word there, we. You see, as I learned more and more trying to understand my son, I began to see myself reflected in the articles. My husband became understandable in a way that 10 years of marriage had not fully illuminated.
This journey is one of the biggest reasons that I’m such a huge proponent of proper labels and diagnoses. When I was flailing around on the internet looking for answers I didn’t find much. When I put in specific search terms with the diagnosis, key words, and questions, I began to find what I needed. Knowledge is powerful: especially coming from a place of utter ignorance.
Educational is a mild way to put it
You could say that gifted and 2e parenting is educational. For me, that’s a polite way of saying I had no clue. Everything I know now, everything I learned was picked up along the way. Bit by bit, label by label, and experience by experience. I’ve learned a lot on this journey, and I’ve especially learned so much more about myself.
I learned that I am gifted. That I am not simply weird, but part of a unique, flawed yet amazing tribe of people who stand outside of the norm. After a lifetime of growing up and living as different, this is coming home. This is finding my place in the world, the pieces all clicking together at once.
I learned that my husband is gifted, my children are gifted, and that giftedness isn’t all great grades and sunshine. I learned what Twice Exceptional meant, and that two of my children are 2e. I know far more about medical terms and conditions than I ever thought I would, and I still feel like we’re stumbling around in the dark trying to figure out what’s going on.
I know now that many of our challenges stem from the exceptionalities and quirks of giftedness and 2e. I know that our challenges are ever-changing, and that life will never be boring with these kids around.
It never ends
I know now, with the labels and diagnoses firmly tucked under my belt, that this is only the beginning. I know that my journey is just starting on my quest to advocate and assist my kids on their own journey towards becoming capable adults. As they grow and mature, so do their challenges. I have to keep up – to keep learning and growing right along with them so that I don’t fail them.
My kids are still quite young, so I look down the long tunnel of years ahead of us with some trepidation and fear. I know how little I know, and it scares me. I know that the challenges will only get bigger, more difficult, and more extreme. I know this. But I also know that I’m equipped with knowledge and a community of support. I have the tools now to figure out the answers. I didn’t have that when we first started this journey of 2e parenting, but I do now.
Even though this post is about 2e parenting, I should point out that it’s just as much about me. My journey. Parenting a Twice Exceptional child (or 2) has pushed my personal growth in ways that I never thought would happen.
I find it funny when people comment how stultifying a stay-at-home-parent job can be, because it wasn’t for me. Staying home with my kids pulled me into situations where I had no choice but to learn. To make learning a lifestyle instead of a habit. And since we’re homeschooling, it’s definitely a lifestyle of learning for us now.
I freely admit – I’m still pretty clueless these days. That’s ok – because I’m willing to learn!
Mary Paul is the blogger behind Homeschooling2e, a blog chronicling her family’s adventures and mishaps. She is an artist who specializes in a digital/analog cyanotype process who now homeschools her children in the suburbs of D.C. She has a degree in art and journalism, and is putting those to good use in her current role as educational guide. Connect with Mary on Facebook.
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