I’ve unwittingly made my child the poster child for dropping out of kindergarten.
I feel like a terrible mom admitting that, like I’ve somehow sold off a piece of his soul to a crossroads devil, but it’s the truth. I try to refrain from sharing too many personal details, I only post snapshots of our life on social media, and in this day and age it seems like a laughable worry, sure. But I’m a mom. It’s my job to worry.
However, the truth of the matter is that if it weren’t for other moms putting themselves out there on the internet I would not have survived the early days of parenting, and I know for a fact my child would not be thriving. From bloggers like My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Learners and secret offshoots of Babycenter message boards, I wouldn’t have known how to handle those earliest hurdles or where to find resources.
It’s funny, not in a ha ha way but a shit that’s devastating when you think about it kind of way, that one of the things I heard repeatedly at doctor’s appointments in the early days was “early intervention.” Our Parent Link, a local resource centre for parents of children under six, even encouraged us to fill out milestone questionnaires and have them reviewed because it is so important to help young children and parents at the earliest sign of developmental differences. And yet, even though it was obvious that my child was different, even though I was struggling so profoundly because I thought I was a terrible mother, it was never mentioned that I might have a *gasp* gifted child except by a friend who luckily planted the seed in my head. Despite giftedness reaching special needs status across school boards in Canada, it’s often one that’s left off of developmental milestone lists. Or, when it is included, it’s to reassure parents that *pat pat* their precocious little booger eater is probably anything but that.
So where does that leave parents? It leaves those of us with resources and too much time on our hands to resort to google and mommy groups on the internet. It leaves us vulnerable to being laughed off, mocked to our faces. But maybe if we’re lucky a kind stranger will take pity on us and lead us into a world that we can only wish existed when we were kids. Because yes, many of us were gifted, are gifted, too. But even if we were identified, the word probably leaves a sour taste in our mouths because we were anything but “smart” like we were told.
For those without the time and resources the picture is bleaker. If I had gone to work shortly after my son’s birth, you can bet I would have found his night-long screams and refusal to sleep more than frustrating. His quirks of knowing exactly what he wanted and screaming until he got it would have probably fractured our bond because I wouldn’t have had the time to say, “Hey, I’ll teach him baby sign language.” (True story.) He would have gone to school, got lost in the crowd, and either hid his intelligence and passions to fit in or lost all interest in trying because “why should I help you if you aren’t helping me.” It’s no coincidence that identified gifted children are predominantly white and wealthy— social injustice seeps down in so many ways it’s horrifying.
And while I don’t have the time to study giftedness intensively or become qualified to dole out proper advice to hungry parents because I am in the midst of raising my own hungry student, what I can do is give them the gift of an anecdote. I can give them hope that it’s all going to be okay, the reassurance that they aren’t alone, like so many moms have done for me. Not everyone has access to professionals, true gifted professionals are so rare, but everyone should have access to a pat on the back and warm cup of tea. And I hope, that at the very least, I can provide that.
So I hope that what they say is untrue. The internet is not forever. Any one of us who had a MySpace page can attest to that. One day my blogs may be gone but hopefully they will have helped a mom or two and their children. Hopefully by then parents will have access to real professionals who have studied giftedness, people who have experience working with these quirky, intelligent kiddos. I hope they won’t have to rely on hacks like me on the internet.
But at the end of the day, as angry as I am that it comes to this, no real help except comfort in bloggers blogging, I’m happy that in some way I’m not completely useless. That I am able to be there in some way for others on a similar path. Because as much as it’s my child’s story, it’s mine too.