I have decided, after a long journey to get here, that Buddy, my almost 8-year-old, will be home with me next year for his schooling and will be participating in an online school. Yes, you read that right–I’m taking him out of public schooling. I decided to share the journey to this decision on this blog because I know that many people that know us well will wonder how we came to this decision, and maybe there are some out there that don’t know us, that are on the fence and could use some understanding of how others have come to this point. I’ll write a few posts since one post would be way too long.
So, here goes. This first post will be all about my Buddy. Buddy isn’t your average child. Here are some ways he’s different:
—Over sensitivity: From the time he was tiny, he has been overly sensitive to various things around him.
–I have cut out countless tags from shirts and pants, and not just because they bugged him a little bit, but because he could not focus on anything else until the tags were gone and he would throw huge fits until we did something about it.
–When we first moved to our new home, he was four years old. We had a housewarming party, and the house was busting at the seams with people. After a while, I realized I hadn’t seem for several minutes. I went into his room, and found him huddled by his bed in tears covering his ears because it was too overwhelming for him.
–There are a few songs that he has kindly asked me not to play or sing when he is in the house, because if he hears the tune, he cannot stop himself from crying.
—Obsessions: Also from a very young age, he would find something
to be obsessed with and would seriously obsess over it. For about a year (when he was 1-year-old), it was bottle caps. He would carry them around all the time, studying them. When we went to friend’s houses, he always had to have one with him, at least in his pocket. In preschool, his teacher introduced him to cutting paper. For the next several months, he didn’t want to engage in any other activities at free-time except cutting paper no matter how the teachers tried to get him involved in the other options.
—Intellectually advanced: When we went to his 18-month well-child check, the nurse asked me if he was saying two words together yet. He answered her in a full, intelligible sentence. He started asking questions about what liberty and freedom really meant at age 4. He understood what a negative number was before Kindergarten, and he is now able to read books and comprehend at a 5th grade level.
—Emotional Intensity: He has never been one to take something lightly. If he is mad, he can easily act like a 2-year-old who just had his toy taken away. If he is sad, he worries us with signs of depression. If he is excited, he cannot hold it in and will yell or jump out of his seat. Even in school, where he wants to impress his teacher–if she announces something fun, she often has to remind him to calm down.
—Perfectionism: He cannot deal with himself making mistakes. When he got his first 14 out of 15 on a spelling test, he was so embarrassed, he didn’t want to show me the test. When he makes a bad choice, he cannot forgive himself for many days. When I recently tried to give him an assessment for the online school, he was mortified that there was a question he didn’t know the answer to.
So, you get the drift. He’s not your typical care-free little boy.
I started seeing that he was different from others when we saw him interact with kids and teachers at church, and I noticed that he didn’t really interact with anyone but teachers in preschool, but I didn’t really notice how different he was until he went to Kindergarten. I visited his class often and found that he was asked to help other kids with their reading instead of him learning something new. I saw how he preferred to make Origami at recess (his obsession at the time) than play with other kids. I saw how he reacted when the teacher talked down to him–the other kids didn’t even notice that she talked that way, but it made him feel horrible.
When Buddy was in 1st grade, we had him tested by the District to see if he might benefit from moving up a grade or at least in certain subjects. The woman who gave the test was the first person outside our family to label him with something we had wondered about: Gifted.
It has taken me a while to be able to say out loud that my child is Gifted because so many people take offense thinking that I am bragging about my child. How I WISH THERE WAS A DIFFERENT WORD FOR GIFTED. The closest my husband and I can relate it to is a version of autism–it’s not technically on the autism spectrum, but I wish it was so others could see that we are not bragging if we mention it, we are actually very concerned about him.
If you look at the list I have above about what makes Buddy different, these are many traits that Gifted children have in common. I hope that you can see the challenge that each of these presents in life in general, and also in public schooling.
Part 2 to come.