It’s hard being the mom of a profoundly gifted child and sometimes you don’t realize your mistakes until you’ve fully made them.
As a mother you want your child to have many friends. To be able to be ‘part of the group.’ You want to be able to be part of the ‘mom’ group too.
But when you’re homeschooling a profoundly gifted child you find that you can’t share what curriculum you are using when the discussions arise. You can’t talk about your struggles. So you stay silent. A lot. And you teach your child to do the same.
Why? Because if you say your child is 3 grades ahead in math it is considered bragging. Or if you say she’s taking an online AP American Government course, you again are bragging. Even though it’s not, it is just a fact. It is who she is and what she is doing. But the responses you get whenever you say anything are not positive. Especially if there are struggles. Like finding challenging reading or work that doesn’t contain subject matter that isn’t appropriate for their chronological age. ‘Why does she need to be doing that now anyway?’ is usually the response. But it’s still a struggle and it’s real. Or the things she likes to do for fun aren’t letting her ‘just be a kid.’
And then you end up telling your daughter not to talk about what she learning or use her normal vocabulary even when she is questioned by her peers.
And you embrace the peer that doesn’t question and the friend that doesn’t judge.
And then you hear your daughter say that she ‘doesn’t want to sound as smart as she really is,’ so she stops talking. She doesn’t use the vocabulary out loud that is in her head. She becomes someone else in a group of people to ‘fit in.’ And she doesn’t feel good about it. She stays quiet in group learning experiences and doesn’t want to do them because she cannot be herself. Learning and knowledge are the inner being of her core. It’s who she is as a person. There’s no taking a break. So she becomes someone she doesn’t know or recognize and it starts to take over.
And then as a mother you realize you set the precedent for this. All because you didn’t want to come off as bragging and you wanted your child to fit in. And you also realize it was at the expense of her entire being. You told her to pretend to be someone she is not. You thought that because she had one friend she could relate to, that filled her bucket, and liked her for who she is that all was ok. That her creativity and complex ways of playing imaginary are to be saved for the only friend who understands and enjoys playing the same way because that friend is the only other one who understands it and others would get upset if when they didn’t.
You told her not to use the vocabulary she does at home when she’s playing in a group. You told her not to say anything that would make it obvious where she was intellectually when in a group, being if it is around adults or other kids.
You do not realize the extent of the damage until one day she meets friends she can talk to about anything and everything. A friend she can play chess with and lose to. Friends she can talk to about the highest/tallest mountain and the difference, the largest desert, black holes and then learn it rains diamonds on Neptune. Her face lights up like you only have seen on Christmas morning and she is so happy.
And yet again you learn from her. You learn that she needs a variety of friends that she can relate to and be herself around. And that she needs you as mom to be supportive of that and help her find them and to be sure she spends more time with the ones she has, not tell her to not be herself to have friends or to try to fit in with ones who she can’t be herself around.
You robbed her of who she really is by making her become self conscious whenever she was talking to anyone but you and in the process she lost herself.
Mom guilt is the worst.
I understand she has to conform to society to a certain extent and she understands that as well. She also understands that there are some things she cannot talk about because they could be disturbing to others. That just comes with the territory and respect for others.
But I’m not going to remain quiet anymore. And she is not going to not be herself. I will no longer squash her because it offends anyone else.
Madison is who she is. I love her for that. I am not bragging. And I will no longer be ashamed. If someone doesn’t like my child for who she is then they really aren’t a friend. And I am so grateful for those who do. Oddness rules! And it’s cool to be smart and crave to learn. ❤
And hopefully Madison can be proud of who she is now that she no longer has to hide it. She will be free and she will have a mom who is smiling not because she’s proud or bragging, but because she knows her daughter is happy being herself. Regardless of what grade she’s really in.