You know that moment. That moment when you take pause and listen to a song a little more closely. That moment when you stop the car and simply watch the sunrise for a little while. That moment when a memory you had filed away comes rushing back with fresh emotion. That moment that makes you laughcrylovedancemove when the time isn’t right. That moment when life in all of its grandeur, all of its magnificence, all of its words, noise, possibilities, distractions, and beauty come together in one cell, one breath, one soul. You stop. Everything about you stops. The only thing you can do is allow it. You have to allow it. Your everything that is you demands you allow it.
I grew up in classrooms surrounded by well-meaning restrictions and misunderstanding. I found myself in a place where people were embarrassed by difference, strange, questioning depth in children. I was entered into compulsory normal, washed with expectations, and fearful of everything. To top it off I had a somewhat high dose of mistreated learning disability and social awkwardness. I was a mess.
The trouble was that inside I didn’t mind the clutter. I lived for faraway looks, distant lands in my mind, and those moments which made me —
There’s no need to finish that sentence. Those moments are what made me. Period. I just wish my external world had reflected the reality which is the experience of growing up gifted and twice-exceptional in a world where gifted represents perfection, achievement, and success.
I pulled through; but now, as a mother of three children, each one gifted and seeking their own moments in their own ways, I want nothing more than to step back and allow them to be whatever it is they are meant to be. I want them to pause wherever it is their soul wants them to pause. I don’t want them to say they pulled through; I want them to dance and fly and sail!
So it is up to me. I want to advocate for them so that their day has the space for pause. Space is where we stop and find and feel and listen and grow. I have to advocate within the restrictions we are given in school districts and through policy.
I struggle as an advocate. I don’t want to be well-intentioned; I want to be well prepared. I want to believe that my work will mean that they go to school every day and are given moments to pause. Moments to stop outright. Moments to find themselves and be moved by the world.
Where do we start?
Sunrise. There are few things which remind us of our possibilities, our renewal, the things we love, and the things we want for our life, and there is no natural metaphor like a breathtaking morning view.
Routine. You’ve allowed a break to the morning rush and spontaneously watched the sunrise, but I think there is security and strength in a solid morning routine. For me and my kids I find that this is a time which can make or break an entire day. Spend it wisely. I don’t care what it is you do; just do it the same and be predictable for a bit.
Oh where oh where has it gone?
Play. I wish I could see more play in the school day. Close your eyes and tell me what you remember most from your childhood. I doubt it’s an assignment or even a project you were passionate about. Play is relaxed, structured, brilliant, enlightening, and expressive all at once. Play! All the time, at every moment; and when they are too old and too cool for it, play some more!
Quiet. This world has always been loud. We think it’s new and electronic, but really it has always been a loud orb of movement, anxiety, demands, and expectation and nothing is more grounding than a few minutes of quiet, real quiet, so that our kids can hear their own center.
Sleep. Like all gifted adults, sleep and I have a bit of a rocky relationship. Books have too many chapters, thoughts have too many speeding cars, worries have blinding lights, and ideas become delicious. Still, it is such a necessary refueling time. Still. Positively still.
I did not forget academics, learning, and time for intellectual growth. Our kids can’t help but intertwine learning into their day. They can’t help but grow from time to think, play, and be quiet. We are trying so hard and offering them so much and sometimes I just wonder if what they really want is simpler than that.
I have decided to be the kind of advocate who is strongly following their lead. I remind myself that they need to take pause, they need to stop when the song is just right, or the sun is just so, and so I need to advocate for song and sun. And when there comes a time when the schools can’t understand song and sun, I will find a place where it’s plentiful again.
You see, I remember how it felt to be on pause rather than stopping for the moment. All we really want is a day and all we really get is a day. Why not make it full of moments which make them —