Perfect and Impulsive: a gifted child’s struggle

Last week I tried something new. Gulp. I decided to break routine. Sweat. I did something out of my ordinary. Silent screams. I tried; I really did. I had big plans and big ideas. I was prepared and I was determined; and I failed. It sounds as though I did something daringcrazycooladventurous, right?

That’s right, I decided to change my blogging days from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Wait- that is what caused you so much grief?!

Yes, last week proved (as though I needed more evidence!) that my children did not fall far from this overexcitability gifted 2e apple tree. I have written blogs about how to guide our children into and out of routine. I’ve researched and absorbed techniques, methods, and best practices; yet the slightest, most insignificant, change to my personal routine left me with eyes glazed, head pounding, fingers itching, and laptop collecting dust. I did everything but blog last week and then found myself sweating the choice and sitting at my computer at odd, unplanned (can you imagine???) times trying to force out some sort of coherent thought.

I didn’t post anything. I can’t force my blog; it either happens or it won’t. Forced is not how my brain works. I write when I write. I am a free bird. I let the words and ideas flow organically and pour from my soul when the universe wants them to happen. Oh, and that spontaneity must happen on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

It was immediately clear that what I had to write about next (and by next, I meant Monday) was one of the most interesting and contradictory aspects of the gifted and twice-exceptional kid’s nature: the everything must be perfect and impulsive at the same exact time characteristic. When one analyzes these two concepts they seem to be parallel to one another. In other words, a person on a perfectionist’s path can have high expectations and strive for perfection through careful planning, attention to detail, and seeking out positive outcomes rather than negative. A person on the spontaneous track decides to live impulsively and tends to seek immediate external or internal feedback from a particular passion or feeling, they enjoy instantaneous gratification, and have a rather nonchalant attitude towards consequences.

It seems to me that while it may be possible for one person to test the two characteristics and float back and forth, my gifted and 2e children expect both of these traits to intersect rather than parallel one another. They expect to test them simultaneously and then they expect them to intersect at any given moment so that they can answer their passionate and spontaneous side while quelling their perfectionistic tendencies.

Therein we will find the dilemma. Your child may be a teenager whose passion for an assignment takes him away from the rubric and then the night before the project is due his perfectionist side recognizes the mistakes; or, your child may be four years old and in a matter of two minutes takes you from happy collection of wildflowers only to remember the rules which leads to an hour of tears because it’s against the law and she’s destroying the planet one flower at a time. Both children, years apart, are constantly struggling with themselves, more than we are with them, to find a happy balance between spontaneity and predictable outcomes. Like so many parents of gifted and 2e kids, I have found this battle to be a hard lesson in frustration and disappointment, tears and anger, anxiety and arrogance. They flip flop around and over and through and up and down.

Why couldn’t I write my blog Thursday, Friday, or Saturday? The choice to write on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday was purely coincidental and coincided with my schedule. It really had no bearing on the creative juices at all. Or so I thought.

It is a very delicate balance indeed for a gifted person and routine and schedule have as much of a place as does the spontaneous and impulsive. I was spontaneous within the confines of my schedule and when I changed that, when I decided I could blog any day I wanted, I was somehow creating too much rigidity within the expansiveness. Dichotomous, we are.

With summer vacation on the horizon, I am happy I recognized this small but powerful contrast nugget. It will help me plan and plan to let go. It will remind me that they can’t harness the grandeur that is their growing minds just because it’s Monday or Tuesday. It will remind me that impulsiveness and consequences are critical to their happiness and learning. Most of all, it will prepare me to smile at the magnificent wildflower bouquet and hug my son for getting a bad grade but loving his topic. They are apples off of my tree, after all, and despite my anxiety after having no blog published last week, I enjoyed the deviation.

I will remind myself and my children daily: perfect is not in the plan and flaw is not in the lack thereof; both are just what make each moment beautiful.