Asynchrony, you’re killing me

Oh Asynchrony, you’re going to be the death of me! Whenever I get frustrated throughout the day, you’re almost always behind it. Every time I ask myself “WHY?!” there you are, whispering in my ear in your stupid sing-song voice.

What is asynchrony you ask? It’s a fancy word for “out-of-sync.” It basically sums up my life as a parent. My kiddo is lightyears ahead intellectually, but emotionally he’s 4. One minute, he’s telling me about right angles and the next he’s throwing a tantrum over having to put on his own socks. I like to say I have 4 kids between the ages of 2 and 20 all rolled into one. And it gives me whiplash trying to figure out which kid I’m dealing with at any minute. And sometimes it’s more than one! Like when he read the cover of I am Malala and I had to come up with a way of explaining the Taliban and women’s rights to a preschooler who simultaneously understands on an intellectual level but on an emotional level does not have the life experience to understand that bad things happen to good people. Talk about horrifying. My nerves are fried!

It’s impossible as a mom to know how to navigate each situation we’re confronted with. Every time we reach an impasse I ask myself “is this a reasonable expectation to have of him?” Because yeah, it’s not a reasonable expectation when you want your 4 year old to practice reading James and the Giant Peach aloud; but for him, it is. He can do it. And it’s my job to help him understand that he can do it. But is it a reasonable expectation to ask a 4 year old to not cry when he’s disappointed that his day didn’t go as planned? Well, I don’t freaking know?? Because emotional regulation falls under the 4 year old stuff and I have no gauge to know what 4 is like. All I can do is try to help him learn an appropriate response and coping skills and try to walk the line between being too hard on my kid and too easy on him. It’s exhausting.

It’s one of those things that you start looking for expert advice about. You know, the dreaded milestones. Theoretically, milestones are awesome checkpoints that help you discern if your parenting is on track. The only problem is not all children fit the checkpoints. Sure, the average child does the majority of the time. But what the fuck is the average child? No child is going to fit all of the milestones, even if their name is John Smith and they live in the family with 2.2 children and a station wagon in the 1950s. Kids are these crazy wild creatures that like to scare us to death. They sure as heck aren’t going to give us any kind of reassurance like succumbing to the almighty milestone checklist. So thanks, expert advice, but you’ve been useless here.

Okay, I shouldn’t say that completely. There are plenty of experts that have been a huge help to me. Experts that deal in gifted kiddos seem to hit the nail on the head. But the problem is, most children aren’t identified as gifted until as late as 3rd grade, the belief being that “all kids level out by 3rd grade.” I could write an entire blog post about my grievances with that one, let me tell you. And profoundly gifted is to gifted as gifted is to average. It’s a huge range. So, as far as I know anyway, there isn’t a “raising baby the gifted way” parenting book I can read while we navigate these rocky early years. I mean, I get it. There probably shouldn’t be a gifted baby book because even as someone who believes that these kids’ intelligence shows up scary early in some cases, I feel like it would be so completely abused by people who don’t understand that gifted doesn’t mean smart. It doesn’t mean successful. It doesn’t mean rich and powerful and right all the time. It just means a brain that works differently.

So what’s the problem with asynchrony? Well, how do you handle a child who:

Can hold intelligent conversations about the periodic table but doesn’t understand that you need to close your eyes to sleep?

Can explain that he needs to borrow instead of using negative numbers when doing subtraction but can’t remember which shoe goes on which foot?

Watches Periodic Videos and Crash Course Chemistry but cries when iPad time is up?

Can type a story with proper spelling and punctuation but can’t print legibly?

It’s frustrating as all hell. I look at this crazy intelligent kiddo and have to constantly remind myself he’s only 4. And I have to figure out the appropriate way to parent him. And sometimes, I know I get it wrong. I’m too hard or too soft and all I want to do is get it right!  And I can’t look to anyone for guidance. It has to be a balancing act within our own family. Which in some ways, is kind of a blessing.

So if you see me forcing my kiddo to do something that’s completely unnatural for a 4 year old, please don’t judge me. And I promise to do the same. Let’s be honest though, we’re both probably way too busy with our own shit to worry about what the other is doing.

And asynchrony, you confuse me, cause self doubt in my parenting skills, and exhaust every ounce of brain power I have. But I wouldn’t change you for a thing because you give us some good laughs sometimes.

Continue Reading

The aftermath

We all have those moments in parenting where we think we’re absolutely, out of our minds, crazy. The first time we sing our screaming baby a totally inappropriate song because it’s 3 am and they won’t stop crying and we’ve run out of nursery rhymes. The first time we try to go pee with the baby in the carrier because I’m going to pee my pants and they just fell asleep damn it. The first, or tenth, time we go to play group with exactly 34 minutes sleep and haven’t spoken to another adult in days and we are trying to hold a conversation with another parent and it just comes out in rambles. The forgotten keys. The lost wallets. The inside out yoga pants. The eternal question: poop or chocolate?? We’ve all been there. And we all know the relief that comes from hearing another parent confess that they’ve done the exact same thing. I’m not crazy is the battle cry of parents every where.

And I can finally say it too. I’m not crazy.

Crazy goes hand in hand with parenting. We can all accept that right? But I’ve felt particularly out there insane more than a few times this year especially. There was the time I emailed our local university in order to find my 3 year old a mentor. There were the school interviews where I felt it was my duty as my kid’s parent to say “hey, he’s a little different.” There was the constant reaching out to programs and classes and friends and acquaintances and begging for help. And then there was the time I booked my son’s psychoeducational assessment.

You know we don’t recommend testing for gifted purposes before grade 1?

You know there’s no gifted programming in this district until grade 5?

You know they won’t accelerate your child?

You know you’re batshit crazy, right?

Okay, so no one actually said the last one to my face but it was literally oozing from their voices. I knew that any psychologist worth their salt would need to be heavily persuaded. Three offices flat out ignored my pleas, one booked us in as though they were booking a doctor’s appointment (which was a major red flag to me!) and for the last one, finally, I pleaded and begged and followed up so that they knew I was serious and desperate. Out of pure luck, I got an intake coordinator who believed me even though no one could blame her if she had just ignored me like the rest. I am so thankful she didn’t though.

Because see, I knew it was crazy to get a kid tested just because I thought he was smart. But my husband and I knew something wasn’t right. We googled and researched and read. We got him snap circuits and chemistry kits. We left the library with armloads of books every week. We got our 3 year old a mentor for goodness sakes!  And still, it wasn’t enough. He was coming home from kindergarten and saying things that raised all kinds of red flags. We needed help.

And it was the best decision we could have made. Had we waited until my kid was 6 or 7, he would have been seriously deprived of learning during the most important years of his life. We would have continued to second guess ourselves for fear of being “special snowflake parents” or hot housing our child. We would have stuck him in the local public school and told him to stay there until college. If he had lasted that long.

It turns out, he’s not just gifted. He is the epitome of a special snowflake. Most parents would be ecstatic to hear such a thing, and I have to admit that knowing that it’s at least possible for my son to achieve his dreams of following in the footsteps of Genn T Seaborg makes me a little giddy; but having read as much as I have about giftedness I have to admit a part of me was hoping for more of a “high achiever” profile than profound giftedness. It would have meant an easier life for him and for us.

Do we sell our house and move to a better school district where we can only hope to buy a tiny condo? Do we let him be a Kindergarten dropout? Do we enroll him in a private school and have to put him in aftercare as well so that we can both work enough to afford to send him? Do we homeschool him and hire a whole brigade of tutors because goodness knows he’s outsmarting us already? I vote we move into a tiny house on wheels and take it to the road visiting all of the museums and science centres and NASA and UC Berkeley and road school for the next year but my husband claims that falls into actual crazy and not parent crazy.

I think the moral of my story is that we’re all crazy. But sometimes when it comes to our kids there is a big difference between actually being crazy, and just looking crazy. If it makes total and utter sense to you, and only looks crazy when you take a step outside and look in, then you probably are perfectly sane. We always hear those miracle medical stories about parents who just “know” something is wrong with their child and they end up saving their kid from a grisly death because they followed their gut. While this is far from a medical marvel, the message is still the same. You’re not crazy. You’re a parent. Follow your gut. And that’s a message I’m going to have to remind myself continually during this crazy ride ahead.

Everything is still sinking in for me. I feel absolutely, certifiably, insane. But I’m glad I know. Because now I can start parenting my kid with a kind of confidence that I didn’t have before. The confidence that was completely shaken because I had pictured his childhood completely different from the way it’s heading. I felt a little mournful, to be honest, to lose that image. To think about the things that are going to be difficult for him, that he may not experience. But then I realize that he is going to have so many amazing opportunities and experiences that he wouldn’t otherwise have. I always hated the term gifted, but I guess if we’re going to call it that, I need to start viewing it that way. As a gift. And I’m going to help him use it.

Continue Reading