There is a certain silly nostalgia as I walk with an umbrella rested on my shoulder. It takes me back to the year I spent in England. I had purchased a very nice collapsible umbrella but I didn’t ever use it. Oh sure, it rained all the time, but it was more of a soft, constant drizzle; and when it didn’t rain, everything reminded you that it would be raining very soon. It was the type of rain you just bend into a bit and speed up your gait. It was a writer’s rain and a thankful to wrap your hands around a cup of tea once inside rain.
My children are my little umbrellas. I love to open them up and rest them on my shoulder. I love watching them swirl and dance and can seldom hold one without twirling about like dervishes. They remind me to toss away inhibitions and jump in every puddle. Every pattern and every color makes me smile, giggle, and revel in everything that is beautiful about their world.
I am my children’s umbrella. They need me to shield them when the cold is unrelenting. A cold which could easily drench them to their soul. There is absolutely no choice but to get close to one another and they become part of me once more as we huddle beneath the canopy and try to figure out the best route out of the storm. Folding up my concerns, I keep it somewhere nearby. We seek the growth and warmth of the sun and return to each other’s shade when it burns. We are close, safe, and together and it is everything that is beautiful about my world.
There can be so much restlessness and anxiety in a gifted mind’s memory. It is simply too much data and too many instances of multiple lines of thinking constantly vying for top position. Top position reminds them there’s room for them all and so begins the sighing. As for me, I remember everything and if given the time to process, I could recall every detail. This is true for what I see, what I hear, and what I read. In the hands of the world, this sounds as though I am bragging. But I can assure you this has been as much the catalyst for my anxiety and sleepless nights as it has been for my escape into storytelling.
Even a simple word like umbrellas starts in motion a relentless game of association in my mind, a multicolor explosion from the word into millions of particles which each shoot off in different directions leaving me excited, breathless, and exhausted all at the same time. It leaves my hair frazzled and my coffee cup filled, my fingers twitching to tell the story and my heart pounding to know more about each thing, it makes me late, it makes me strange, it makes me crazy. Ah yes, but I am bragging.
This little bragging right is one of the first signs of giftedness I experienced with my own children. It wasn’t necessarily memory, but very early on, too early the voice kept whispering, their ability to remember everything from a new driving route to vocabulary and recall it later in great detail separated them from the other children.
It became immediately obvious that I had a choice: shield my children from the world or shield the world from them. I didn’t like either choice.
For me, the time spent under the safety of the umbrella, the safety of known and close and family and you-are-normal-here, were some of the best memories I had of them. Sending them off into ill-fitting or well-intentioned, but not properly experienced and accredited, academic settings seemed… sad, for lack of a better word. I felt I had to run after them holding the umbrella over their heads, watching the little sharp points as we struggled through the crowd, and I barely felt able to keep up.
Eventually I had to toss the umbrella aside and hustle them through the storm, through another difficult and troubling year of schooling, and under an overhang to dry off and regroup. Both of us were left to shiver and consider our options and our next best move. I reach out to hug them, to keep them warm, but they are too cold and too wet and too angry.
I know what I need! The umbrella… it’s back in the car. Should you go get it? Start over?
I feel as though all of us as parents of these amazing gifted children have experienced the warm and giggly puddle-jumping glow of umbrella weather as much as we’ve experienced the cold unsure dripping-overhang shelter moments. There are times you forget the umbrella, your kids and you both get soaked, you get angry and lost and confused and cold and you have to start over.
But there are also rains which are lovely and soft, the kind which allow you to bend into them and just speed up a bit. The kind of rains which beg for rubber boots, for jumping and giggling, for letting go and wrapping your fingers around a warm cup of tea. They are rains which bring growth and rains which bring change.
For me, an umbrella represents everything joyful and wondrous about being gifted and raising gifted children. I long for the times we all try to fit underneath, in one small space together, to weather whatever storm the world is pouring onto us so that I have them close and can twirl them through puddles.
But there are the times that it doesn’t happen just the way I want it to. For those moments I have my memory… And I will never forget my umbrella.
Welcome to the NEXT, a new series on my blog with a focus which seeks to tell the stories of the great, the wonderful, the whimsical, and the outstanding which ride along with profound gifts. I hope to give parents a soft and understanding place to land after difficult and frustrating days and fill them with positive adjectives to carry with them to parent/teacher conferences, advocacy meetings, the homework desk, and the dinner table. We’ve all been there and instead of discussing what is wrong and what needs to change, I hope to fill parents with a sense of what GOOD need to be upheld and protected.
Now you know how it all started…. Check out what’s NEXT: Yellow Rah-Rah