Home > 2E, Creativity, Education, Exceptionally Able, Giftedness, Global Gifted Awareness, Talent, Talented, Twice Exceptional, Uncategorized > Giftedness and The Kaleidoscope of Colours.. One parent looks back…

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

National Parenting Gifted Children Week which is hosted by SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted).

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


  1. July 20, 2011 at 9:43p

    Thank you, Lesley.This is a beautiful and very encouraging analogy! It shows how important perspective is and how, just by changing the way you look at the situation, you can see it in a completely different light.

    • July 20, 2011 at 9:43p

      Thank you Jo, that is what I hoped, that trying to throw a positive light on things can help us continue to move forward.;-D Hey there, anyone else who is reading these comments.. do go and checkout Jo’s Sprite site… it is a magic place! http://www.giftedresources.org/jo/

  2. July 20, 2011 at 9:43p

    I can’t imagine being told that your child has no empathy and having cause to doubt what you’ve seen and witnessed from him. I know when M was young EVERYONE assumed he was ADHD and would have all the problems that my brothers had. I knew he wasn’t, they saw him in situations of being overexcited and stimulated, they never got to see him relaxed, figuring out puzzle games or studying a sightword electronic game enough that at 3 could read 60 sight words (no phonics, but he KNEW those words) or listening to story after story. The view they got was when they were being so interactive, loud, and busy that he was reflecting them. I wouldn’t be suprised, though this is the jaded me speaking, if your guy just reflected the lack of empathy so many students and teachers give off in the course of a normal day.

    • July 22, 2011 at 9:43p

      Ya it sometimes works that way.. situation and environment can be so influencing.. Hey folks do go have a read of my nieces (Ya that’s Susanne) contribution the the blogtour… she says some neat stuff http://www.buildingwingspan.blogspot.com/

  3. Mona
    July 21, 2011 at 9:43p

    Beautiful and moving. Your words give me hope. Sometimes I think it’s not a lack of empathy my DS11 displays, so much as empathy in different clothing. And you are absolutely right (I hadn’t ever framed it this way for myself), that the lack of understanding he receives from those on the outside surely displays itself in lack of concern for others.

  4. July 21, 2011 at 9:43p

    Thankyou Suzy and Mona for your nice comments, and I agree with both of you.. Please have a look at Mona’s contribution to the blog tour.. it is fabulous…http://lifewithintensity.blogspot.com/

  5. July 21, 2011 at 9:43p

    Lesley, this post touched my heart. Just this week I’ve been thinking about how the social skills of gifted children are often not behind so much as ahead, or at least on a different, more adult (and more boundary-less) level.

    Thank you so much for being a part of the Blog Tour in such a personal way.

    ~ Lisa

  6. July 21, 2011 at 9:43p

    Hi Lisa, Yes I agree, they can be ahead of their age peers, and frustrated with it and when they trustingly try to treat adults as peers, they may be seen/taken as trying to be above themselves and disrespectful- again frustration ;-D. Whew.. I just realised.. frustration is as big with gifted as is intensity.. Ya.. ;-D. Folks do check out Lisa’s Blog, and her books.. they are pretty cool!! http://everydayintensity.com/

  7. Carmen Downes
    July 21, 2011 at 9:43p

    Lesley, Thank you so much for this post and for sharing your experiences with your son. It is good to hear from those who have lived through these things, and come out the other side. I’ve also observed, and been told, hugely contradictory things about my child. It is a puzzle that I can never quite figure out, but it makes venturing out into the “real world” with him an exhausting experience for the whole family. I cried while reading your post – I think that I’m going to hang up some of those beautiful kaleidoscope images on my walls so that I’ll remember, every day, to look for the light. Thank you.

    • July 21, 2011 at 9:43p

      Oh Wow.. (blush).. Thanks Carmen for your nice comment.. and I agree it is just achingly exhuasting, sometimes to the point where you feel you just have not got anymore pizaz to give.. even now, for me, but I do try to keep looking for colour when I can.. but man, there is an awful lot of alphabet soup thrown at us from time to time isn’t there.. ;-D.. hope I didn’t make you cry too hard.. ? (Pats Carmen on back.. ;-D).. my posts seem to have that effect on people now and then unfortunatly..

      • Carmen Downes
        July 21, 2011 at 9:43p

        Oh Lesley, thanks again, for the pat on the back! 🙂 The tears were mostly just from the relief of not feeling so alone in this 2e world, you know? (esp after a particularly tough day yesterday) And the beauty of the kaleidoscope image… and my own emotional intensity thrown in there for good measure! So, those were good tears and I thank you again.

  8. July 21, 2011 at 9:43p

    Well, I am glad they were good tears anyways.. ;-D…and yes, it helps immeasurably to know one is not alone.. and intensity can be good.. I always say, if Art is good, it will cause a strong emotional reaction. So if you view yourself, or your child as a piece of art in progress, and causing intense reactions, than you/they are unique and interesting and…. good… ;-D..

  9. July 21, 2011 at 9:43p

    Thank you Lesley. Tears down here as well. For all the trials we go through, these kids are a special gift to us as parents and it’s moments like the one you described that reminds me of this gift. Thanks….Nat

    • July 21, 2011 at 9:43p

      Yup.. it’s the moments alright.. ;-D.. think I’m gonna hafta include a virtual box of tissues here… ;-D (pats Natalie on the back too… ) Nat’s up and coming work of art (research project coming soon ;-D).. http://parentsofgiftedchildren.com/

      • July 21, 2011 at 9:43p

        Thank you for the tissues :-). I think it’s sometimes so easy to get caught up in what we’re told our kids can’t do. It is so wonderful to read positive stories.


      • July 22, 2011 at 9:43p

        Oh and wow – thanks for the link! Hopefully it’s only a matter of a week or so before I can open it up and gather some real some information.


  10. July 22, 2011 at 9:43p

    Lovely sentiment and lovely graphic, too.

  11. July 22, 2011 at 9:43p

    No probs Nat.. it is how we help each other, with little things, that counts… ;-D..

  12. July 23, 2011 at 9:43p

    Oh! I just got chills with the idea to “keep twisting the kaleidoscope and turn it towards the light.” Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. I know it wasn’t your primary intention, but I think the story also shares the idea of how important it is to speak more than one language. I don’t just mean languages of verbal communication. Your children clearly speak the language of kindness. Anthropologists believe this is a dying language, spoken only by a few on isolated islands of social integrity…

    • July 23, 2011 at 9:43p

      Hey Lisa… I must thank you for your nice comment… and you are oh so right, in more ways than one… language is hugely important.. and, is not just about foriegn language, but.. also the words we use, such as using ‘energetic’ when speaking of out kids instead of ‘hyper’… and as well, as you have pointed out the language of intent and perhaps emotion… It’s interesting you speak of how anthropologists think about it. I studied Anthropology long long ago in my other life… in Mexico, and it was a language that was much more prevelant amongst the indigineous populations than the city duellers. You gave me a shiver too.. I always admired my mother for having the language of kindness, which one can/could sense rather than hear.. I listen to people that way to.. not only with my ears, I think my kids do to, to.. (maybe a feature of intensity??).. Such a kind thing to say lisa… and I hope the Kaleidoscope imagery helps.. I love the things, giving hope that patterns can change… ;-D especially if we flood them with light.. Any others who are reading this, please travel over to Lisa’s blog, and have a look, leave a comment…. it’s awesome!! http://giftedguru.com/

  13. July 24, 2011 at 9:43p

    Dear friend, you are a wonderful, divergent thinker who has the ability to see things as they should be … a true blessing to the gifted community. Your words go straight to the heart of the matter. Every gifted kid should have a mum like you … supportive, caring, sometimes a bit crazy in a fun way, fiercely protective while at the same time prodding them to spread their wings. You have my deepest admiration and sincere appreciation at being able to call you ‘friend’.

    • July 24, 2011 at 9:43p

      Ahh Lisa my friend… ;-D you have a way with words and I thank you… I do try, however I would not say what I try works all the time either… teehee.. I am blushing here… Still.. I admire you too immensly I do… and wish I had a tenth of your energy….. and sunny disposition… your kids are hugely lucky to have you as a mom as well, I know, I meet one in the flesh… and she’s awesome..

      And folks, any others who do happen to visit here, please do yourselves a favour and go visit Lisa Conrads Blog, She makes more sense in her writing than almost anyone I know… http://giftedparentingsupport.blogspot.com/ She is also part of the Blog tour..

  14. Moira
    August 17, 2011 at 9:43p

    Leslie, I just loved that. Thank you!

    • August 17, 2011 at 9:43p

      Thanks Moira!! Nice to hear from you.. feel free to browse through the archive of blogs.. you might find one or two that ring a note for you or someone you know.. ;-D Great to have you on board.. Do pass on my blog to any others you may feel it will help.. Les

  1. February 10, 2013 at 9:43p

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