Monday, April 20, 2015

Gifted at Different Ages and Stages

This blog post is part of the GHF Blog Hop for April.
Check out the other blog posts on this topic here.

Giftedness was not in my vocabulary when I was a first-time mom. I equated the word gifted with talented, very good or highly-skilled. 

But since my eldest son was assessed to be potentially gifted when he was 2 years old, I started reading more about giftedness. I have learned more about the topic since then.

I have also witnessed and noticed more of the traits that I have read about gifted children in my eldest son.

Then, I had another son, my second baby. 

We have not brought him to our developmental pediatrician yet, although he is already 3 years old. But I know that he is also gifted like his older brother. Why? Because I now know the signs and traits that gifted children manifest. I see some of his older brother's traits in him, which are mainly overexcitabilities in different areas and advance development in language and music. He exhibits giftedness in other areas, too. But they have a lot in common.  

Sadly, even though I already know that he is gifted just like his older brother, I still make a lot of mistakes in dealing with him and some of his behaviors.

It has been over 4 years now since my husband and I learned that our eldest son is gifted. There's still a lot that we have not figured out though. We still struggle a lot in putting our very active kids to sleep, getting them to finish their meals within an acceptable time frame and teaching them to be obedient to us. Each day is not complete without a power struggle. I'm still not used to their noise, mess and constant chatter. 

This past week has been extra challenging for me because our two helpers left. I can't help but feel overwhelmed and drained in the past days. I can't keep up with my kids' energy level on top of caring for my 4-month-old baby boy, whom I also breastfeed. This gifted adult craves for time alone, silence and reflection; but I could hardly get that, since my kids sometimes do not want to nap and they sleep late at night.

That's me and my gifted boys during my third baby's baptism. 

What I had been doing and what helped me survive these past week was to pay more attention to my gifted kids' behaviors that warm my heart and make me happy. 

So, I consciously took note of their creativity and powerful imagination. I did my best to listen to most of their stories and to play with them during their pretend plays. I patiently read books to them and told them stories, too; even though, I was already sleepy and my throat was hurting. I reminded myself that I'm blessed that my kids share my passion for books. I savored the music played by my eldest son in the piano. I praised him and gave him tips on how to improve the books that he has written. I chose to be grateful for the opportunity to mentor him. I chose to smile at my 3-year-old who kept hugging me, saying "I love you" to me and singing to me the birthday song this past week. 

I'm really thankful for these adorable, sweet and smart kids. I just feel exhausted this week doing my best to keep them safe, teaching them good behavior and values, and making sure they are well-fed.

I hope and pray that my husband and I would learn more ways on how to better parent our two older kids; so that we would do a better job in raising and parenting our third child, who at infancy is already showing signs of giftedness like his two older brothers. I noticed that he also gets distracted while nursing. His motor skills are also developing fast. Sometimes, he seems to be conversing with us. He just can't articulate the words yet but it's obvious that he is trying to tell me/us something. I do my best to respond to him but he still gets frustrated sometimes.

I'm thankful that I have been part of forums or support groups for parents with gifted children. I've been learning a lot from their sharing and stories. I also feel less alone in dealing with my struggles and challenges.     

We still have a long way to go. But stories from parents who have gone ahead of us and who have raised gifted kids successfully encourage and inspire us. Their stories also remind me that parenting gifted children gets easier as the kids grow older and mature.  

What challenges and joys are you experiencing now at this stage in your gifted kids' lives? Feel free to share in the comments. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Son's Favorite Teachers

I heard something I didn't expect to hear last Sunday afternoon while I was reading aloud a new book to my sons before their nap. This book was given to my eldest son as a gift by his godfather who's also one of my closest friends in college. When I came to a part wherein a question was posed, I asked that question to my eldest son.
His answer was, "You... and Daddy."
The question on the book was, "Who is your favorite teacher?"
It was our first time to read the book. So, I did not expect to encounter that question there. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear my eldest son's answer.  
Tears clouded my eyes right away. I could no longer continue reading the story. I could not stop myself from crying. I was too happy with what I accidentally found out.

I did not expect him to give that answer. Although our sons are homeschooled and I am their main teacher, my eldest son had other teachers in the past. Most of them were his occupational therapists whom he calls his teachers. He had four so far. Then, around a month ago, we got him a piano teacher. A week ago, we enrolled him and his younger brother in a theater class. Thus, he has one more teacher to add to his growing list of teachers. 

I was so touched to hear that among the teachers he was exposed to in the past, he considers me his favorite.

My son's favorite teacher is me!

Another reason why I cried when I heard his answer is because I felt God's hand at work in my son's heart and life. I admit that I've made a lot of mistakes in teaching my sons, my eldest son especially. He was my firstborn. And just like in many cases when you are doing something for the first time, I made countless mistakes. I learned through the years through trial and error. I was so thankful to God that in spite of my mistakes, my eldest son still considers me his favorite teacher. 

Moreover, I felt that it was an affirmation from God that my husband and I made the right decision to homeschool our kids. 
After thanking my son, kissing him, embracing him and telling him how happy I was to hear his answer, I asked my husband to take over in reading and finishing the story.

I was still crying while my husband was reading the rest of the story.
I was moved not only by my eldest son's answers but also by how the author described the characteristics of teachers who usually become their favorite.

Let me quote from the book:

"If you're like most children, your favorite teacher is someone who cared a lot about you. That teacher cares enough to give you extra help when you needed it. Maybe she noticed when you were sad and cared enough to ask you why. Or maybe he worked really hard and did a good job, all because he cared about you."

We were reading the book Children's Book of Saints by Amy Welborn. The Saint story we were reading that day was the story of Don Bosco.

I liked the way the life and ministry of Don Bosco was told in the book. It was not only our kids who learned that day. My husband and I learned as well.

It was my first time to learn that Saint John Bosco or Don Bosco was first called by God through a dream that he had when he was just 9 years old.

His dream made an impact on me because in his dream he saw kids running wildly and God told him that he will be the leader of those boys. This surprised him. He also felt afraid because he didn't know how to lead those boys.

What God said to him struck me as well.

"Not with blows will you help these boys, but with goodness and kindness." It was said iin the book that after this line was said in Don Bosco's dream, the boys in his dream became calm.

I could relate to Don Bosco somehow. My boys have the tendency to run wildly, too. They easily get excited and when they are excited they sometimes run around and shout or make a lot of noise. They are like supercharged atoms bouncing everywhere! These behavior drives me nuts and tries my patience A LOT each day.

So when I learned from the book that Don Bosco helped the boys to become well behaved through his love and his relationship with them, I felt that God was answering the questions in my heart through his story.

I pray that I would be more like him. I pray that I would patiently invest in my relationship with my kids and wait for them to be transformed by the love that I pour into their young lives. I pray that this story of Don Bosco's ministry would provide for me encouragement during difficult days -- when things do not go as I hope and expect them to be, when my faith is wavering and I want to see tangible results of my efforts right away.

Do you also have very active little boys like me? Do you know who your child's favorite teacher is? If you are homeschooling your child and he gives the same answer as my little boy did, would you also be moved to tears?

Feel free to share in the comments.