When our family started our journey of discovery regarding giftedness we were unaware of how many aspects of our life would be changed. To say that it has transported us to a whole new way of life would be an understatement.
Recently we had the pleasure of meeting our new family, our gifted family.
To be in a room full of people just like you is so marvelous.
It is a weight lifted, a pair of wings fixed for flight.
Making our way to a room full of profoundly gifted children and adults was not an overnight journey. It took lots of self-acceptance, a leap of faith, and the great modern phone book that is the internet.
In the search for help with our children and their exceptionalities we discovered Raising Poppies on Facebook. This is a group for folks to come together and discuss the needs of their twice exceptional children and the daily highs and lows. Founded by Colleen Kessler of Raising Lifelong Learners and Caitlin Curley of My Little Poppies, it is a true gem of love and dedication to the gifted family. Early on I discovered that our needs weren’t quite the needs of the masses in the group though. Our son was doing things that even the gifted group didn’t think were possible so young. I once again felt the rug had been pulled from my small space of newfound hope.
With the aide of the Ruff Estimates and our son’s testing we revealed that he was Profoundly Gifted. Not just a little asynchronous but a lot asynchronous. Looking for a group of voices that were more understanding of younger intensity and could offer more answers, I started my own group as a spin off. PG Poppies was born and is still an active online source for Profoundly Gifted specific discussion and has been a wonderful way to meet others with the very same struggles and experiences and advice.
Soon enough we needed more. Not just online ears and kind words but people we could build a future with. This is the story with profoundly gifted kids. It is always MORE.
PG Retreat became the light in the dark for us. We applied to this unknown and hesitantly pinned our hopes on getting accepted. Once we found our acceptance message I did a Snoopy worthy happy dance and immediately called my husband to share the good news. This was it! Finally were were going to get answers! Someone was going to give us the magic book on everything about our kids and show us how to turn the chaos and intensity of our daily lives into harmony.
We loaded our car and headed out to our week of unknown. Upon arrival we thought, do we really belong here? Is our lack of homeschool perfection going to be a problem? Our sons don’t resemble Doogie Howser, M.D. in any way. I’m lucky if I can get my kid to write his name let alone do anything considered successful in a traditional classroom. Do we not know enough? Are we not “good” enough? Are we going to make friends or be left behind? Are our kids going to be too intense? The imposter syndrome kicked in with full effect.
So many unnecessary worries.
Immediately after arriving we started meeting our new family. Every single person was warm, caring, honest, and just like us. Just like us.
Our kids immediately became social. Our kids are never social.
Instead of being the weird kids or the outliers, for the first time ever they were completely, utterly normal. We were normal. The people in the room come from all over the country and from all kinds of economic backgrounds, education levels, interests, and more. We were in a room where acronyms are a normal way to talk and 2E is common-place. There were bouncy balls for kids to feel free to bounce on. There was space for nature walks and time for quiet retreats from social anxieties. There was room to breathe and be ourselves. Suddenly our son stopped playing down his abilities and stopped looking for the oldest kid in the room to play with. He found peers of age and mind for the first time in his life.
One of the many classes offered was by Stephanie S. Tolan. She is the author of many children’s books and other novels of various content. Her talk covered looking at your life as your story; making yourself the lead roll in your personal novel. Tolan showed us that everyone is the hero of their own story if they choose to be. They are at times support for others too and even background characters. With the inspiration by Ernest Holmes that “freedom begins and ends in our own consciousness,” she showed us how to shift your perspective and realize that there is always something you can do to change your life for the better.
Instead of why me?, look at the world as why now? or even what adventure will this take me on?
Tolan wrapped up quantum physics, personal experience, and a literacy expert’s theatrical spin into one beautiful tool kit for writing your own personal story. Leaving her talk reminded me that the very reason we found this community and those online were to help us write our own story. There was no “Guide to the profoundly gifted” handed out at the check-in desk. There were no parents who could answer every single mystery with assurance. We found a group of people who cared deeply for their children and the needs of the adult gifted people and wanted to write their own narratives. They are writing narratives of compassion, passions, families chosen and made, of eccentricities, twice exceptionalities, and outliers finding community. It is a story of change from desperate for answers to finding new paths together. It is a family of global support, mutual respect and understanding.
The world is not designing systems for us as outliers. We have to choose to either make our own systems of support or stop being upset that we don’t fit. It isn’t fair to them to be asked to accommodate the chance that a child like this will come along.
That is okay and it is up to the individual character to decide if they are the hero in their own story or if they are the victim or villain. For our family we found our tribe of people who are joining up on a quest for mutual enlightenment. A sort of Dungeons and Dragons quest if you will pardon the nerd in me. Less sword play with dragons and more IEP forms, but a quest of the heart all the same.
As we continue to write our story we hope to make it one of our children having a sense of normalcy and support. A knowledge that they may be outliers in the larger world but there is a place that they are free to be their true selves every day without it being a rebellion to the rest of the group. We ditched our idea that we had to make our lives, our education, our family look like the Western model of education and values and embraced that in OUR story we have multiple exceptionalities and those don’t change who we are as people. Our values and friendships, our passions and actions are what define us rather than our molding to academic social structures.
Hopefully this hero model becomes our new life model. Instead of worrying about not being supported by the masses and being caught up in fighting the system that has no place for us, we will write our own story. We will be the central characters on our journey of adventure, family, faith, fun, exploration, passions, interest-led-learning, and kindness.