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    #219026 - 07/01/15 12:04 PM Dealing with denial?
    NowWhat Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 01/19/15
    Posts: 42
    GGG made a comment on one of my other threads about being in denial and I've decided that's probably why I found this forum in the first place. I have a serious case of denial going on and I'm not sure how to get rid of it.

    I have an overwhelming mountain of evidence sitting in front of me that my child is not like other children his age yet I still can't get it through my head. Is it normal to have a kind of mourning period for what one thought parenthood would be like vs. the reality of parenting an asynchronous child?

    DS (21 months) has the vocabulary and speech abilities similar to children who are 3-3.5 years old. He has already hit those "learning" milestones that people associate with the PreK years (letters, numbers, small quantities, basic shapes, basic 3D shapes, colors) and is moving into actually writing letters, recognizing words both in and out of context, and he has learned most of the complex shapes, like trapezoid and octagon.

    I frequently describe my child as a soul-sucking knowledge dementor (only to those closest to me). Ha! I love my little dementor with all my heart but whew!! He is exhausting in ways that other children do not seem to be exhausting and he has been like this since day 1. Back then I didn't know why he seemed to be exhausting in a different way but now I have a much better idea.

    I still have not found other parents going through the same types of things as I am which makes this a lonely parenting journey so far. Playdates go something like this:

    Other Mom: John has started putting together two words phrases! It's so neat! Is your DS starting that?

    DS walks up: Mommy! John is holding the orange balloon. This little one. I mush the little one. ("this" being a balloon that is little compared to John's balloon)

    Yep, that happened. And there I sat like a goober saying my son uses two words phrases too because playgroups seem to be all about talking about what your kid does and does not do and does and does not eat. I just want to be able to swap Mom war stories with a Mom who is also going through this and I can't find any! I want to find another kid like mine so my son doesn't seem so different. And somehow, I want to feel more comfortable with the kid I am raising.

    #219031 - 07/01/15 01:12 PM Re: Dealing with denial? [Re: NowWhat]
    ConnectingDots Offline

    Registered: 09/06/13
    Posts: 848
    Yes, it's normal to feel like this when you have an atypical (in this case, gifted) child. I recently saw an article for parents raising gifted children which mentioned needing to let go off the notion of a typical child. (Typical and atypical are not perfect terms, but I'm sure you understand them as I use them here.) Even mourning that, in a sense. Unless your circle contains parents who have similar children or who are very open minded to diversity among children, you are operating in a different world. I found that my childless (and highly educated) friends were the easiest to talk with about my ODS when he was very young, because they appreciated what he did, but didn't have parenting norms of their own.

    As your child grows, and your own senses sharpen re: giftedness, you will, with any luck, begin to discover parents who are on similar, if perhaps not identical, parenting journeys. Many will be online, but we found some IRL, too. We were fortunate to have ODS in a Montessori school which happened to have several children who must have been somewhere along the gifted spectrum (parents happened to also be very bright, so we got along well with them). The parents of these children were then much easier to speak with about parenting. We could relate to intensity, cycles of rapid passion for something (dinosaurs, trains, etc.) that last for a few weeks/months and then was quickly discarded as the child moved onto the next thing. What I'm saying is that you may also find your parenting "tribe" members if you look carefully for them.

    In our case, DS has become a lot easier as he grows (he's 8). He is more able to do things for/by himself, can (often) be reasoned with and has a broader range of interests to keep him busy. Even then, we are outliers as a family. He's not at the public school despite it being a top school in the rankings, because they don't have the flexibility to accommodate his educational needs. So we lose that community. We still have to watch how we talk about him if we don't want to offend people or have them perceive him as weird. (I'm not talking about people who get it.) I am pretty good at code speak. :-) People who have gifted kids pick up on what I'm saying (just this week, someone said "that's a wonderful way to say you have a really bright kid!"). Others don't, which is my goal. It's a weird way to live.

    I go to the parent sessions at the university that hosts classes for gifted children (weekend ones that my son likes). Not because I learn much I have not found already, but because it is refreshing to be able to speak plainly and openly. And I get to help other parents by sharing what we've experienced.

    #219035 - 07/01/15 03:24 PM Re: Dealing with denial? [Re: NowWhat]
    AvoCado Offline

    Registered: 04/11/13
    Posts: 202
    I just sort of treated it as "our" normal. Even when DD was about 4-5 months old, I'd be at coffee group and notice that every time, every single baby would be asleep or just lying in their prams, but DD would be up on my knee, looking around the table and banging her fists like she was trying to say "TELL ME STUFF! WHAT IS ALL THIS?!" smile It never occurred to me that it should be any other way, and if no one liked it I was oblivious lol
    I actually don't think I could have it any other way

    #219049 - 07/02/15 12:32 AM Re: Dealing with denial? [Re: NowWhat]
    aquinas Offline

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2499
    I can't comment on the parenting groups because I eschewed the traditional mommy stroller circuit in favour of maintaining my adult friendships from before DS was born. I'm not a latte-sipping, zumba-and-compare mother in jazzercize tights. If the groups aren't a fit, don't attend.

    From my experience, in those early years, most other parents mean no harm by their questions. Parenthood is a bewildering learning experience for everyone, and the miracle of seeing your child grow up (at whatever ability level or temperament) is a wonderful, confusing marvel to behold. Every child and every milestone is a cause to be celebrated. The insecure parental competitiveness does ratchet up in the face of your child's expressed abilities, but it's nothing that can't be managed or dismissed. Find support here; the community and collective wisdom are unparalleled. Maintain adult relationships with people you genuinely enjoy and seek out interest based activities for your DS as he grows to find your local tribe.

    My advice: give your child what he needs when he needs it, as only YOU are seeing him so intensively to be able to appropriately judge his needs. You (and your DH) have the unique benefit of knowing your DS before he knows himself, tree.

    Parenting high needs children is exhausting, thankless, and often requires inordinate levels of patience. I worked in a career with 90+ hour weeks, extensive travel, and difficult personalities, and that had nothing on my 3yo in terms of intensity of demands. You will adapt. It sounds callous and pithy, but you will. You have no choice but to evolve or burn out.

    On the flip side, you are in for the best treat, too, and it FAR outweighs the costs. Your child will be interesting beyond belief, exciting, keep you young and engaged, draw you out of yourself, make you test your beliefs, and be a source of tremendous pleasure. It's easy to get caught up in the mindset of otherness and trip yourself up in a negative loop of counterfactual scenarios. But ask yourself-- would life REALLY be better if your child was more like everyone else? Are most of the people you enjoy being around outliers? Are you?

    At 3.5, my son can make me laugh so hard at his jokes that I can't breathe, and he's more interesting to discuss philosophy with than most adults because he sees possibilities most don't. Brutally honest confession: I don't enjoy being around most children, but I'd travel halfway around the world for an hour with my son. He is a phenomenal guy, and I am so grateful to be there with him as he grows up, even if it means I play second fiddle.

    The next year will be a hard one, but also a rewarding one. Your son will start to more obviously develop his own identity and ideas, his thought process and humour will mature, and you'll be his guide in the process. Framing is key: if you can view his behaviours as genuine needs and label them positively, you will have a much easier time supporting his seemingly endless quest for learning in good cheer (even at 3am, when he has woken you for the third time, and is asking you some esoteric philosophical question when all you want is some sleep.) And, as much as possible, ensure that what you do with him is fulfilling for you.

    But again, lean on this community heavily. That's what we're here for.

    What is to give light must endure burning.

    #219050 - 07/02/15 05:55 AM Re: Dealing with denial? [Re: NowWhat]
    chay Offline

    Registered: 08/07/13
    Posts: 448
    Loc: Canada
    From another mom of a soul-sucking knowledge dementor, you aren't alone. I do love that description and it fits my DS to a T. I have often said that DS doesn't just ask questions, he interrogates you for information. The toddler why phase wasn't just why it was why, how, where, when, but what if, so that means, etc on repeat what seems like 24/7 starting from his first words and ending, well I'm not sure when it ends. The questions just keep coming and coming and usually eventually lead to "I don't know... we'll have to look that up" (and I used to think that I had a reasonably large knowledge base to go off of, being stumped by a preschooler several times a day is a humbling experience that really shows you how much you just don't know). He's now 9 and it is slowing down but that is mostly because he skips over me/DH and go straight to google or the library.

    We've had several hilarious playdate experiences over the years. For the most part we've been rather lucky that most have been harmless curiosity and not malicious competition but I have seen glimmers of it. Not much I can do, I usually just smile and shrug my shoulders. I like to think that we're all just fumbling along and trying to do our best and give people as much benefit of the doubt as possible. Most kids I know seem to have thrown the baby books out and have their own unique path and we all seem to have our own challenges parenting them. It is probably a bit odd that almost every family I've known since before kids now has one kid ID'ed with something - dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalcula, DCD, LD, ADHD, ASD, gifted, etc.

    As for the denial, I have to say that we've experienced this in waves. There are times when it seems completely overwhelming and then there are times when we think - oh, he's not so out there. This is usually followed by something that makes us realize that he is way more out there than we ever thought possible. Then we get used to that and fall back into thinking, oh he's pretty smart but so is ____, then something big happens that makes us realize once again that he's on his own path, then I come here and read about the kids that far surpass whatever he is doing and I feel average or even behind and then... well you get the idea.

    Our denial was so strong that it wasn't until we were told to test for ADHD by the school that we actually figured we would have to do something to disprove their theory. I remember calling the psychologist and explaining that the school thought that he was ADHD but that we thought that he *might* be gifted but that there was something else going on as well (it turns out he's gifted/LD). I then remember sitting on the other side of the room for some of the testing watching DS hide under the desk, completely avoid questions and generally be a giant turkey and thought - we're going to be lucky if he tests average given this mess. We were a bit stunned at the results. We then had to retest to confirm the LD stuff and went through an even bigger shock at his much higher results.

    Oh, and I haven't even mentioned DD who through all of the above chaos flies completely under the radar and seems so completely normal by comparison. But then she is the one that we get comments about even more than DS. A few more months and then we'll test her. Some days we think she must be way above him and others we think the complete opposite so either way we're wrong wink Another wave in the storm of denial.

    #219051 - 07/02/15 06:49 AM Re: Dealing with denial? [Re: NowWhat]
    Bostonian Offline

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2635
    Loc: MA
    As I have often written, high IQ is correlated with success. Parents very much want their children to be successful, so to "mourn" giftedness is to miss the big picture. It's my impression that many parents in my town pay for tutoring, especially in math, just to keep their children on the college prep track. Parents of gifted children usually don't need to do this. Having a high-IQ child is less stressful in some ways.

    #219052 - 07/02/15 07:38 AM Re: Dealing with denial? [Re: NowWhat]
    cmguy Offline

    Registered: 03/30/14
    Posts: 387
    I think the earlier years are in some ways the most challenging. Once they are 4 or 5 (and potty trained, socialized etc) multi-age playgroups and camps become an option. I've found this takes a lot of the load off (instead of endless story time every night we do a big story time once in a while).

    #219053 - 07/02/15 08:02 AM Re: Dealing with denial? [Re: NowWhat]
    ConnectingDots Offline

    Registered: 09/06/13
    Posts: 848
    Bostonian, perhaps "mourn" is not the right word. I prefer something more along the lines of letting go of the idea of fitting in -- but, at least in our family, having a PG child means that we are different in some ways that are isolating at times. Accepting that is helpful.

    Perhaps if we were in a hypercompetitive city where everyone was pushing their average students to be exceptional ones, it would be different? We are in an educated, but not academic area.

    I agree that there are advantages to giftedness. I wouldn't change either child (although a little less stubbornness would be nice). I wouldn't say it has been cheaper for our family, because it has meant private schools (from 4-10k/year per kid), travel to gifted programs, testing (800).

    #219054 - 07/02/15 08:16 AM Re: Dealing with denial? [Re: NowWhat]
    chay Offline

    Registered: 08/07/13
    Posts: 448
    Loc: Canada
    I don't see it as morning the giftedness or potential for future success (which while correlated isn't exactly a guarantee). I think what the OP is trying to get at is mourning the loneliness of the parenting journey and the isolation.

    You think you've joined the parenting club where everyone stands around at the park and complains about their kid doing x, y or z and can for the most part relate. Only to discover that your biggest complaints are sadklfjsdljkf, asdkjfsdlkf and asdfio which you can't say a word about because by doing so generally results in stunned silence, zero sympathy (I only wish my kid had that problem) and/or judgmental assumptions that you are sacrificing their childhood and FORCING them to do this stuff to make them/you look smart.

    This is about searching for another parent to swap war stories with and realizing that everyone else seems to be fighting a completely different war. You're in the Navy and they are all Airforce.

    I will say that it gets better (or at least that has been my experience). The kids come into their own, become their own people and I have become far more comfortable with who they are (and for that matter who I am). There are challenges (and probably always will be) but I am very lucky that I do have a very small circle that I can talk to (mostly online but a couple IRL). It took time but we're getting there. My IRL circle don't necessarily share the same challenges but they understand that they are challenges and can listen without judgment or feeling inferior/threatened. I don't live the challenges that say DCD or ASD brings but I can empathize and listen and at the root of it we're all parents of square pegs trying to function with round holes. Failing that there's always wine that bonds us together wink

    #219057 - 07/02/15 09:22 AM Re: Dealing with denial? [Re: NowWhat]
    Dude Offline

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    No mourning here. Before I had DD, I always said that I didn't like babies because they're boring, they just sit and stare vacantly, and I wasn't interested in being around any kids until they start being fun, generally around 3-4. So when my own DD was selecting her own clothes at 3 mos, and pulling her first pranks, she let us know she was going to be anything but boring.

    DW bemoans the fact that she barely got to enjoy DD being a baby at all, so her take would be different from mine.

    Up until DD entered school, her advanced abilities resulted in a lot of positive attention. There was this one restaurant we ate at regularly where we got AMAZING service, because every waitress wanted to come by and see DD, so after they said hi and paid her a few compliments, we got our extra napkins and drink refills.

    We did get into some minor conflicts with immediate family members, who didn't take kindly to the idea that they couldn't just pick her up when they wanted to ("She'll tell you if she wants to be picked up... you wouldn't like it if some strange giant yanked you up off the ground, please show her the samr respect.") or if we were disciplining her ("She's perfectly capable of understanding why she's on time-out, thanks."), but that was about the extend of it.

    It only became a problem when DD enrolled in school, and that's just a problem with the school, not with her or being her parent. Now that she's 10, she knows how to blend in pretty well, so most people don't notice anything different about her... unless she warms up to a particular subject, or they're foolish enough to ask her what she's learning in school.

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