Giftedness and The Kaleidoscope of Colours.. One parent looks back…
The Kaleidoscope of colours
Thanks to Lisa Rivero and the SENG team for this wonderful opportunity. Please make sure to look at the links at the bottom of this page to follow the tour and leave comments. You will also find a link to a wonderful free resource book especially for Parents, but also of interest to educators.
In writing this piece, I am acutely and personally conscious that for many parents it is the connectedness of sharing small moments in each others lives that sometimes have the most significance, and bring the most comfort. For this reason, rather than write a large, heavily referenced, tome, I chose to write something a little more personal, a window into one parents experience/musings on looking back.
As a parent, one of the most significant periods of our lives and our children’s lives is that period between the ages of 0 and 18 (or 21 in some countries)… Not sayin our roles as parents ‘end’ when they reach the ‘legal’ age of adulthood, this is just where the road goes on to different things. We still for ever more remain their parents … however, the 18+ is often a crossroads where we can see the influences of their/our past.
I am reaching that crossroads now as a Mom, and as I do.. I find myself not only looking into the future towards what.they.may.become but spend equal time reflecting on what.has.gone.before.
I have come to accept that parenting gifted and 2E kids is a bit like looking through to the little bits of colour that are shaken up at the bottom of a Kaleidoscope lens… the patterns are, and colours never exactly the same.
Often, and amazingly it can be about perspectives, and how things are seen..
I have an enduring memory of two incidences connected with the end of school year and then a holiday abroad that highlighted this for me.
My PG (and 2Eish.. ) young one had just finished yet another difficult school year full of frustration and misunderstandings, intensity and angsty teachers. I was called in for an end of year teacher/parent/principal meeting.
I won’t go into the conversation or the numerous issues addressed, but, the most pointed remark was that the school felt he had a problem with empathy. Actually that he had none. I tried to turn that Kaleidoscope lens in any direction I could to find some colour in this conversation, however all I could see was dark, my light was fading fast as suggestions of diagnosis and other labels came to the for.. black patterns swirled about… I searched inside myself.. could this really be true? Was my view of him as his parent, making me miss this non-empathy part?..
I was told he was self-centred, had not been able to learn things like waiting to be invited into an activity game, interrupted adults with unnecessary information and refused to see the error of his ways.
Well, school closed for the summer and we went away to the USA to family for a while. The second week in I took my two kids to a playground. My PG (without being told) noticed there were a lot of papers and cans thrown about. As he started picking them up and putting them in the garbage, along came a gentleman with two children. This little family could not speak English as we found out, but my two reached out to them and without waiting to be invited, engaged them in the same activity, and when finished continued to play with them on the playground equipment for the rest of the afternoon, having a wonderful time, trying to outguess each other, mime their meanings and laughing at each others misunderstandings. Helping each other, caring for each other. It was beautiful. The Kaleidoscope lens was full of swirling colours.
I sat next to the Dad that afternoon as we watched our children play. Although my two children at the time did not speak Spanish, I did, having grown up in Mexico. In general conversation I found out he had been a teacher in Latin America. At the end of the day he turned around to me and said in Spanish:
‘Seniora, no se como lo hico, pero tiene usted que tener mucho orguillo, como hay muy pocos ninos en el mundo que tienen tan bonitos modales socials, y sin prejuicios, ah cido un plazer conocerlos….’ (excuse my rusty Spanish Spellings!)
‘Misus, I don’t know how you’ve done it, but you should be extremely proud, as there are very few children in the world that have such wonderful social skills and without cultural prejudices and it has been a pleasure to have met them.’
I immediately remembered the day a few weeks before in a stuffy stiff room, where another adult had painted such a different picture.
A muchly different light came through the Kaleidoscope on that sunny summer afternoon, and the patterns were colourful, strong, clear and full of hope, and affirmation that somewhere, somehow, we had done something right.
Over the years, and looking back on the many incidences situations we have had which were centred around our children and their gifted behaviours, gone wrong or good as the case may be.. — this is one thing I have learned.. — keep shaking that Kaleidoscope, and turn it towards whatever light source you can find. You might be surprised which way they fall, and what patterns you may see.
Today, as a young man on the brink/the springboard of the rest of his life, my PG, who was once (truth be told, he may carry them still, whether for not they are just gifted traits, misnamed.. ) saddled with several 2E labels, including the non-empathy/Asbergery one, is exceedingly popular among his other gifted peers, and even, at times, the agony aunt of the group when sadness strikes one of them.
My son has empathy, yes he does, by the bucketful, and ‘feels’ deeply. I know he will be ok.
Perhaps back then from his perspective, it was just the situation, the environment and maybe even, quite possibly the people, lacking an understanding of giftedness, maybe, just maybe, he was only mirroring/reflecting/learning patterns and the lack of empathy towards himself.
I have thought, in retrospect that Kaleidoscopes could be used as a nice conversation to have with kids, when speaking of resilience and also perspectives, changing views and survival. Buy them a Kaleidoscope and teach: When it starts to get dark, remember to twist the lens, shake up the colours and turn your Kaleidoscope towards the light. It is indeed, by necesity, (and to keep our sanity) what all parents of Gifted and 2E children do every day.
This post was written in honour of gifted parents everywhere during
Follow the Blog Tour and leave comments on the pages of the many participants. You are sure to find many wonderful companions out there. Also be sure to:
Download SENG’s free NPGC Week ebook, The Joy and the Challenge: Parenting Gifted Children