For the Dust to Settle

Since we relieved our 5 years old from school, I’ve been continuously educate myself about giftedness.  I devoured loads of information night and day; I was up late looking up articles and printed them out to be read during the day whenever I can find time.   I read and read hoping to reach epiphany or find some answer about the best way to handle this delicate matter.  There are many information available regarding characteristics or traits of the gifted to help parents determine whether their child is one and understand the difficulties that comes with raising one.  I came to term that ours is definitely gifted.  I live with it and don’t need any more reminder of what kind of difficulty it involves.

I’m in search of the next step on how to foster the strengths and improve the weaknesses.  It seems that all I could find was sources to make us understand and accept it.  If anything ever come close is a guide for us to make sure their surroundings is best suit their learning styles or setting that won’t cause stress which lead to meltdown.  I can’t take that for the answer.   I won’t live forever to watch that everything will be fine or put a stop on every slightest sign of the road lead to breakdown.  Life is full of ups and downs.  There are good and bad people/ situation in every corner.  I started to wonder if that is the case….there is no solution.  The reason they want us to deeply understand the conditions and rearrange world around them is because that’s all we could ever do.  It will not ever be normal.

There is this one article that paint vivid picture by comparing how a parent’s job is just to make sure the house is safe for toddler to learn to walk without hurting themselves from falling to how we should do just that for our gifted.  It made me feel good for couple of day.  Then it got to me that it’s in our instinct that we know how to walk and will eventually get there.  Do the gifted have it in them to be able to grow out of their social and emotional issues, to cope with their sensory or over excitability traits, and to manage stress and anxiety by themselves?   I joined several parents of the gifted network forums and found that it’s a norm for the gifted kids to still have those problems in their teens.  It’s save to conclude that the answer is no, they won’t just better at those by us just watching over and prepare safe place to fall.

I consulted with child psychologist that we’re seeing.  Her answer made me feel good but not really give anything solid. I asked on how to re-enter him into those classes that he blocked of like piano or soccer.  She asked me to show him advantage of those classes and listen to him.  If he still doesn’t want then don’t have to go back  for it.  She said every problem have solution which will prevail someday when the right time comes.  She asked me to treat every problem as though he’s a regular kid.  Treat it as it come.  For example, if I find his emotional issue a problem then we look into that.  To be honest, since he’s back home with us the stress factors are no longer there so he’s back to his lovely self with no social or emotional problems.  This doesn’t mean that he’s better.  I’m sure a week back in any real social setting he will retreat back to dreadful person again.  Sign…

I’m back to square one, lost and alone.  For the past couple of week, I stop everything; no more reading, no more participating or interacting with any forum, not even thinking about it.  I want to clear my head and find my footing.  We’ve done a great job and been through so much the past five years without all these information or identification.  I’m acknowledging its existent but since it comes to no value to me or him I will just leave it there like one of those certificate on the wall.  I have enough of hearing confirmations over and over that their kids has this and that problem too.  There is no end to it, no one has a cure.  Yes, I’m frustrated.  I’m angry that after all the month I’ve invested in this quest I came up empty.  It’s ridiculous.  I gave it a time for myself to deschool along side my son.  I just need to be strong and believe in myself that I can do this and I know the answer.   After all, whether your child is gifted or not parenting is a lifetime role for everyone indifferent.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Several month ago we started our son in new school, K-2 class.  First week in a teacher was appalled by his intensity of being upset just because he didn’t want to take school lunch.  We did the usual, educate her how to deal with him and told them it’s normal reaction of him. ( “He’s very expressive,” talk.)  I thought the reaction was carried from bad experience he had with teacher at the previous school.  She punished him from not eating by won’t let him go for break unless he eats.   Then he started to say “I’ll kill you.” to his teachers and peers.  She’s concerned about violence in the home or media he’s consumed.  It later escalated into outbursts which involve taking a swing and cursing when people trying to put a stop on him.  That’s when we’re called up to meet with principle and asked to take him to see child psychiatrist.

We saw two psychiatrists, shopping around for option and best fit.  The diagnostic was he’s adjusting to new environment for the first time coming from being single child whom gets lot of attention to school with not only many kids but also teachers.  He seeks attention he used to and since he couldn’t get it by behaving normal that’s how he got it.  So we’re working on the angle of rewarding good behaviors, to give him attention when he did great before he draws attention out by misbehaving.  It works wonder at home but in school is another ball game.  When he acted out, they practically threw him straight in counselor room and left him there for half a day.

The school has counselor whom has master degree in child behavioral.  He also work with us on this case.  His alarming sign was that our son seems to lack empathy towards his peers.  He’s bossy.  He sees himself as a policemen governing the class.  He would pass on punishment to the kid who did “wrong” in his point of view without mercy.  (That’s common trait for us.  He’s trying to help from is perspective but of course they don’t see it that way.)  The lack of social skill is thrown in with damages caused by video game and cartoons.

We did let him watch a lot of YouTube because it kept his interest so I can do other things.  He learned so many thing from those clips such as pop culture that we share in conversation day to day.  We don’t have any example for him to learn those thing since we don’t have friends to hang out here.  I thought it’s good for him to keep those in the back of his head for social skill sake.  He learned bad words from the comments but we sorted that matter out since many years ago.  He knows it’s bad and he’s never used them.  He did other thing too like for a while he would end every sentence with “right?” or “okay?”  and we successfully corrected that.  I thought we’re good.  I admit I was wrong.

I looked up on internet to find the tips on coping with misbehaving 5 years old and came across issues of “Gifted” child.  I was sitting there, dumb founded with a slight feeling of revelation when all puzzle pieces click and fit together.   It explains all those grueling hour of role-playing about getting eaten by whale over and over for million times.  It describes his sensitivity towards people or thing and strong expressive emotion.   It tells me why he is so bad and dislike hand writing.   It shows me those questions he asked or interested in are not common for kid his age.  Every single problems they listed is exactly what we’re in.  Every traits they laid out, it’s what we live in day to day for our past 5 years.

I shared this information with my husband but decided not to bring it up with our psychiatrist or school personnel.   The worst thing that it could bring would be my son being branded or labeled.  I’d rather look at this problem as manageable behavioral of a kid whom kept watching bad media for the past 5 years with extremely low interaction with kid his age because it’s can be fixed.  I would also like to hear  unguided/unbiased opinion from experts in their field.

Two weeks of co-operating between the idea maker, our psychiatrist, and the implementer, the school teachers and counselor.  Two weeks of encouraging, educating, and motivating them to try and fighting for our son.  The school decided their resources are not equipped to provide proper education for him.  The teacher kept saying how his misbehaving make her over all student out of control and will be modeled after,  how she’s fine with him if he’s not disrespecting and cooperative then nothing she can do.  ( Practically saying, she will only teach regular ready to learn kid.  If kid has problem learning then it’s their lost.)  It’s understandable because it’s not an easy task everyone is willing to do.  I also at the end of my fighting spirit as well.  It’s one thing to get it done myself, but it’s different ball games when it comes to getting other to do it.

In our parting briefing with school principle, his conditions were brought up.  School counselor and principle whom has more than 15 years in position over in the US, suggested to us about his “Giftedness”.   The counselor inform me that how our son doesn’t fit into ADHD, HDD, or ODD so that we won’t be misled in the future by others.  They pointed to us on the next steps we should take en route to ensure the success of our son’s future.  They encouraged us to not be afraid of getting him tested or being “Label” because it will only do him good to put it out there.  They didn’t bring this up earlier because they could only observe but it’s not in their power to put the stamp on it.  That’s a professional job.   Since we won’t be seeing them, they want to share with us the direction we should take in their opinions. The psychiatrist tested his level up to 8 yeas old before she stopped and suggested us to get him test for IQ.  We didn’t want to do it.  We parted with school on good term but sadden by the fact that they gave up so early and easily.  There are so many options I planned to explore such as moving him up or down the class level to really see what is actually troubled him to act that way.  This school is the best place to provide a great platform for such experiment because their management staffs are experienced and professional in child education.  (Though I can’t say the same on the teacher level.)

I finally opened up to my close circle of friends, one who has son similar age to mine.  They all agreed that it’s because he’s kept in the house unexposed to outside world or no interaction with other kids aside from parents whom apparently gave him too much attention.  Though I agreed that he’s lacking social skill have trouble handling/expressing his emotions, I think they don’t quiet grasp the root of its problem which is the excitability of this type of kid and  how they perceived the reality differently.   They also overlooked that fact  that it’s normal for gifted kid to be behind in social skill. Maybe he’s not at the age to understand social clues just yet.  He’s very sociable, love to hang out and talk to people.  I still think that his action didn’t come from lacking social skill but rather the stressed or frustration he had from school.

But then how can I help him to better adjust?  I think it need different approach than normal lack of social/emotional skill training for regular kid.  Should I wait for that time to come, will it come?  I’m rather lost.  It’s easier to look at this matter like my friends because that way problem can be solved.  Looking at thing from my perspective, it’s a big mountain to climb in front of me who is not a mountain climber.   His early reading skill, his traits, school’s observation, and my time living with him convinced me that I must start learning to climb that mountain right about now.  I’m embracing it with best foot forward.  Let’s the game commence.

The Gift(ed) from God

I and my husband have always know our son is different from other kids.  He’s able to read, self taught, since the time he started talking.  Talking and reading goes hand in hand for him.  Before that, we noticed his word recognition ability because he’s able to grab us the right books or word cards we asked for.  We’re very proud of him.

I though still thought that it’s because we read with/for him since he was born.  I assumed this concept can be applied for every kid.  He’s our only child so I have not had a chance to put my theory to test. (Normally when someone asked what we did, it’s late in the game for their kids already  in our opinion since we started from day one.)

We also realize he has little characteristic traits that require some understanding from people who come in contact with him.  We had to educate them on how he is or how to be around him.  For example, when we first came back to Asia he had to meet many new people for the first time.  W e practically gave them briefing which goes along the line of…

“He’s very sensitive.” He can pick up people mood fluctuation or emotion in a heighten sense. Please keep calm approaching him. Do not go in with alarming, unstable state of mind.  (Like sometime, he’s playing with breakable items. Adult often gets panic and rush to pull it of his hand while shouting hysterically.  He would just flip on you if that were to happened. )  Do not touch him without asking him first.   Please treat him like equal, no teasing talk like asian like to do to kids.

“He has this perfectionist streak.”  If he does something wrong, please do not keep telling him it’s all right because it will upset him.  Just agree that it’s bad, hear him out and he’s be fine.

“He enjoys compliments.”  “He needs lot of hugging and loving time.”   Both are medicine we use to keep him at normal state of mind which is most of the time unless the rules above are broken.

What happened when those rules are broken?  That’s the next briefing headline.

“He’s very expressive.” When he get upset, anger or sadness will come out in extensive degree.  You can picture normal kid balling and times 5 to that.  If it’s very disruptive, he often takes a swing at me.  Sometime he hurts himself.  Cry excessively.  Not pretty sight, not even for my standard of someone who understand and care for him dearly.  It’s best trying not to get to that point.

Even with all these signs we need to keep watch,  it’s not as difficult to be with him as you may think because he possess so many more good and enjoyable qualities.

“He’s very kind hearted kid.”  He could never stand watching any show that someone do something wrong or something bad going to happen.  He would cry when he hears sad music.  (He’s very sensitive to sound. He’s never a big fan of vacuum cleaner, loud noises, or alarming kind of sounds.)

“He’s funny as hell.”  He has good sense of humor and I’m not talking about funny hah hah…but very witty adult kind of humor that come out of no where.  He made us laugh so hard and amazed of how he could have thought of it.

“He’s very reasonable”  We can talk to him about thing and he will keep his end of the bargain. Punishment is never needed around the house because we have agreement instead.  The time out is normally used when he’s out of hand in handling with his emotion, mostly.

“He knows what he wants always.”  Since he’s very fluent in telling us what he wants.  We listened.  We’ve never forced him to do anything he doesn’t want.  He doesn’t like to write.  We let him be, maybe he’s not ready for that yet.  Besides, he’s very good at spelling.  Writing will come in naturally.  We just provide support whatever interest he has at any given time rather than force into him.

“He’s creative, always inventing new idea or new way to do thing.”  We enjoy the world he’s showing to us. I enjoyed working with him on the project he thinks up.  Normally it’s occurred weekly.  Dinosaurs, Egypt, Solar System, Underwater.  He would look up internet, find a book, read them, reenact or role play, and talk about it the whole week before we move on to different interest.

“He asked question that broaden your point of view even for adult like us.”  He question the end of the world.  He asked me about origin of each virus.  Where the world comes from?  I can really say I’m learning new thing living with him every day.  😀

Charming, loving, bright, and funny little boy.  All these things that make up as our son, we cherish it with all our heart.  Every kid is different in their own way, this is ours. From my standpoint, we got it very good already comparing to stories I’ve heard from other.  We’ve never been through terrible terrible two.  We can count his break down in just one hand, mild I think.

Aside from getting lucky with terrible two, We have other problems of our own though.  For years that he couldn’t manage to put his sleeping time right.  It keeps moving.  Half of the month we will be sleeping during the day and stay up at night.   He quit his bottle and nappy very late in the game, 4 years old.  I tried training him but it didn’t work and one day he just get up and ask for cup and no nappy.  He toilet train and bottle wean in one single decision.   We take it as it comes.

Life on the Blog

My first blog was created to share a life story raising and spending time with my little boy.  That little boy has grown up to the point that his new developments went on at a pace too fast to log it up.  It used to be in several months he learns this new thing for the first time; walking, reading, going potty, etc.  Now it’s like pandora box has opened and things like that happened many times a day.

As life progresses, my world also becomes bigger.  I had opportunities to experience different aspects of life which spark thoughts or ideas, the one I would love to share with others whom might share same interests or look for some answer just like I did.  Learning many new things through the work of bloggers that sincerely and generously put up part of their life experiences on the web urged me to do my part, to pay it forward.

The old space doesn’t seem appropriate for this new direction I’m taking. I tried changing the blog’s concept many times; new name, new theme, new structure to give each category its own space but nothing works.   As a blog reader myself, it’s rather common to see great blogs had expired just never know why until today.  It’s time to accept and let go.  I’m starting over anew.  It’s been a journey with great memory that I will keep with me.

Note to self: Blog has a its shelf life too!