A gifted individual is a quick and clever thinker, who is able to deal with complex matters. Autonomous, curious and passionate. A sensitive and emotionally rich person, living intensely. He or she enjoys being creative. -definition of giftedness written by the Netherlands Study on Giftedness in Adults

Sunday, December 16, 2012

With a Heavy Heart

This has been a rather brutal week. Between some personal family changes that have required me to have some very emotionally difficult conversations with people I love dearly, a certain teenlet officially becoming a teenager, some acute health problems (including trips to Urgent Care and the ER), and then little babies being senselessly killed in Connecticut - my heart is very heavy. I'm wavering between being unable to breathe and weeping uncontrollably.

It's not hard to imagine that the teenlet picks up on this. Despite his outward demeanor of not caring (a very carefully constructed defense mechanism of his), the teenlet has a very sensitive heart. During an emotionally-charged scene in a movie, I look over at him through my tears and see his eyes brimming, too. He still gets weepy when you bring up the death of our cat - that happened in 2008. Certain songs have been known to bring him to full emotional meltdown. I fear his reaction the first time he reads Old Yeller, Watership Down, or Where the Red Fern Grows - so I haven't suggested those books to him.

But he was watching the news on Friday. He loves watching the news each morning, so when I got up and he was laying on the couch with Good Morning America on the television, I didn't really think much about it. But then I began to hear the story unfolding, and I was horrified. And my little boy (ahem, teenager) was sitting there, taking it all in. He didn't say a word. At 9am when the news was over, he turned the television off and got himself dressed, and then went to work on his school work. He took a test. He wrote a paper. He listened to online lectures. He didn't say a word about Connecticut.

But he hugged me a lot that day. And the next. And the next.

Talking to a bright and emotionally sensitive child about incomprehensible tragedy can be a challenge. They need reassurance, but not empty promises of safety and security that they know you can't keep. They need to know why - but so do most of us and we really never figure it out. They feel a deep need to DO something, and a sense of helplessness that the problems are so big.

The best you can do is to ask them questions - what do you think about this? How does this make you feel? What is going on in your heart? What would you do? Help them plan how they would react if a friend confided in them that they had a plan to hurt someone. Help them decide ways they can help - can they reach out to someone who gets bullied at school? Can they raise money at their school to help the families of the victims? Can they identify someone who might need a little extra help, and offer it?

Your child will benefit most from being able to talk through all the emotions they are feeling. I know it's hard when you are feeling overwhelmed as well - but in my experience, it helps me, too, to talk to the teenlet about these things. It helps me to process as we are processing together. And it gives me hope that this little part of the next generation sees value in life (even though he is a teenage boy and obsessed with guns and weapons of war).

And give them lots of hugs.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Love Books

Reading is awesome. Our whole family really loves to read. The teenlet reads faster than any other person I know. Hubby and I aren't slow readers ourselves. We have bookshelves in every room in the house - and books piled on the floor and every surface they can find. My Kindle makes me happy.

The thing I like so much about reading is that it allows you entry into another world. Fiction (my personal fave) allows you to become part of a world you might never encounter in any other way, whether it's hiding in the hills of Tibet, surviving on yak cheese and terrified of the spirit gods; or in 19th century England, solving the mystery of who is this Anne Catherick. Historical non-fiction and biographies provide insight into a time, a place, or a person that can guide our decisions today and tomorrow. Religious books can provide spiritual guidance to the devout, opening windows to God and your heart to love. Self-help books can give you psychological insights in an effort to strengthen your inner world or heal from past hurts. Parenting books offer perspectives on helping our children become the strong, well-rounded, emotionally secure individuals who are successful (whatever that means) and happy adults. There are many, many more genres that I haven't mentioned that are equally as constructive and/or fun to read. Bottom line is: I just love to read. Reading is an easy pathway to information. And information is my friend.

Which is why it is so weird that I have such a hard time reading parenting books, especially those having to do with giftedness and intensity. What I've read have been fabulous, and I have a gadzillion others in my "to-read" pile. I've learned a lot from what I've read. I've met (virtually, at least) many of the authors and they are fabulous people. I continue to buy new books on giftedness, knowing that knowledge is power, and the more I know the more I can help my child and others who are struggling with their own giftedness/gifted children. Oh, and myself, too.

I think that's the thing that keeps me from opening those books - the more I learn for the teenlet, the more connected I become with my own giftedness. It's disconcerting. I'm old enough and I've managed to get this far in life without knowing all this stuff, and it's a little upsetting to take a look back through life and see all these markers I didn't know were supposed to be telling me anything. The more I learn to help my child, the more in touch with my own intensities I become. And that is at once freeing and frustrating. How wonderful to realize that I'm not a freak of nature - all of this stuff is there for a reason. But it's also frustrating because as I'm learning about it, it takes on this new life that has been hidden all these years.

But I keep reading. I pick up those books less frequently than others, but I still pick them up. I put them down for longer periods as I readjust to new realities, new images, new ideas about why we are the way we are (these are usually things the teenlet and I have strongly in common, since our intensities are nearly identical). I read them because the better I understand myself, the better I can understand my child.