“Do You Have a Second?”

“Do you have a second?” can mean so many things in my life. It can mean that someone would like to ask me a medical question, or they are looking for volunteers for the carnival at school. So, I’ve learned to be a little hesitant when it comes to answering the question.

Over the past few years, I’ve also learned to recognize it as a call for help. I volunteered to be one of the GT ambassador parents for my kids’ elementary school about a year ago, which means I act as a conduit to help other GT parents find information. When a parent of a gifted child asks this question, I know that we are likely looking at a conversation much more than a “second” long. These are the mornings when I’m glad I don’t have to hurry to patients already waiting in the office for me. I can take a few moments to listen to a GT parent, and try to help steer them towards the resources they need.

The questions usually fall into some basic categories: how and when to test into the full-time gifted program at the school; trouble with the parent understanding their child; trouble with the child not being engaged at school; coping with intensities. Since I’m an internist in a geriatric practice, I steer clear of any medical questions about children (other than to say, “you should take your child to his/her doctor”), because clearly I’m not qualified to comment.

I do preface any conversations I have with an explanation that Dave and I are “off the grid” – the best way that I can think of to explain that we are pretty far out there in terms of having left most traditional GT schooling ideas behind. By way of explanation: all of our kids are in a full-time gifted program, and are skipped up an additional grade; my daughters both part-time homeschool literacy and math. Plus, all of our kids have different issues: E is extremely unusual in terms of her intellectual level; H is 2e with a profound math learning disability; and A has all five intensities, all at once. Consequently, what has worked for one child did not necessarily work for the others. We’ve literally done every type of acceleration that exists within our school district.

What I love about volunteering, though, is listening and having empathy for the parents. Their stories can be heart-wrenching, and you can see how much they genuinely care for their child. This is such a tough road to go down, trying to help your gifted child choose a path that makes them truly happy. So much easier to concentrate on measured achievements, test scores, or fighting with the school. One of the parents I spoke with earlier this year commented to me recently that our conversation really opened her mind to possibilities she hadn’t known existed. She seemed so much happier to be pursuing a path of exploration, rather than doing the same things she’d always done. A definite bright spot in my day.

Here’s hoping I can help a few more parents find resources, and happiness, for their gifted kids “off the grid” – well worth many “seconds” of my time.

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