Play On, Words

(Reprint of article published July 2014).

Dreamer. Head in the clouds. Eyes out the window. Grass is greener. Oh my. Flee fly. Scallywag.   Monkey tree. Oops, I got a little carried away. It is so easy to start listing fun-to-say words. Scallywag is fun to say; monkey tree, too.

Words were always my biggest distraction, my biggest support system, and my go-to when overexcitabilities were on full tilt. Words were companions when the class was boring, when the material was dull, or when the window was ridiculously bright, beautiful, and enticing.

Have you seen this in your gifted or 2e child? Do you have a bit of a dreamer? A Distracto Eyes? A Wordsmith? Even if not a talker- maybe Silent but Wordly?

I’m guessing that you have seen something of the sort. I’m guessing that you have seen it within the hour. Every hour. On the hour. Like clockwork.

After all, words are delicious. We should pack them every day for each child, like a snack, like a treat, like a well-deserved wordy break.

As a young, twice-exceptional, and gifted child, my world was comprised of wonderful words whirling whimsically around me. They were playful, friendly, enticing, and lovely. Words were the first connectors between my world and my inner thoughts and desires. But all of this went on inside.

My parents were sent a letter in 1977 in which my doctor said that I was cognitively deficient, that they shouldn’t expect too much from me, and that it should come as no surprise when I was unable to express myself accurately.

I didn’t disappoint. My expressions were pretty inappropriate and I found myself incapable, unable, misunderstood, and powerless. Still, not being able to express myself verbally did not change all of the things that I understood, all of the information which I absorbed, and the catalog of words I created while I waited for everything else to make sense and fall into place.

I amassed a dictionary which did more than list words; it loved words!

While academic achievement made its dawdling, sluggish, turtle-esque way forward, my young mind swarmed with the possible words I could use to express, both to myself and to the world, the depth that represented how I felt and where I saw myself fitting in.

It wasn’t easy. The words came out all wrong.

Words tripped, tropped, troped me at every turn. They seemed as much my way out as my way in. Words by others -long, flowing, pouring off the pages words by others- became a refuge. My own words -odd-sounding, never-ending, stream of consciousness words- would become my biggest barrier.

You have too many words, teachers said. Slow down, pick a few that matter, and be content with those. You are trying too hard, said one. You are dreaming too big, said another.

Wait, one can have too many words (Sounds crazy, I know!) I hope to never again hear those words in that order.

Nobody knew it was brewing and I didn’t –or couldn’t- tell. The fact that I was reading Clan of the Cave Bear, Carrie, and Flowers in the Attic at eight years old did not strike people as fantastic, amazing, and gifted; rather, I was labeled the odd child who didn’t say the right things and felt the need to say the wrong things all the time. I was completely asynchronous. I was young and lopsided, askew, off-center, cock-eyed, crooked. Thank goodness for words! Maybe early school was a bust, but all of the words piled up and I walked up and out.

Do you know a gifted or twice-exceptional child who struggles to express feelings, desires, and needs?  Maybe you know or have a child who struggles to show academic achievement, but clearly has more to say? Or maybe your child, like I did, struggles with classwork, but has a clear love for vocabulary, for words, for poetic diction, and for expression.

I’ve met so many children who fit this profile. They were my friends in my youth (and now, they are some of the most interesting adults I know).

So many of these kids don’t quite fit the gifted profile and don’t do well when tested. Many of them have special needs which hide the giftedness and giftedness which hides the special needs. Oddly enough, banging our forehead on the wall doesn’t quite advocate the way we hope it will (I know, I’ve tried).

These parents, like I did and still do, search for answers, for support, and for words which exactly and appropriately express what their gifted and twice-exceptional child need academically, socially, and emotionally.

It was somewhere during a word storm when it hit me. It hit me like the game of association. Like a ton of bricks. A wall. Hand ball. Stick ball. Baseball. Cracker Jacks! Cracker Jacks is more fun to say than peanuts.

It hit me that I started this blog as my little way to show my support of those kids who stare out the window, which don’t have the answer when called on, and sometimes seem to have their heads in the clouds. I started this blog as a way of letting off steam in the form of words while connecting with other parents raising gifted and twice-exceptional kids. I started this blog to offer a different perspective, an atypical voice, for the gifted adults who were lost in the system early on and find they are raising miniature versions of themselves.

Towards that end, I have written a series of posts just for fun. Just for them. Just for us. So many parents tell me vocabulary is no problem but writing is excruciating for their child. There is so much to focus on: punctuation, spelling, format, theme, handwriting, and that piece of fluff floating by the window and landing just so on the edge of the swing. Is that a dragon? Whoops, did I get distracted again? Of course I did. Writing like that doesn’t pay homage to words. It’s necessary, yes, but oh so difficult. I’ll leave that to the teachers. My words like to PLAY!

In my series, Play on Words, I created four posts to help us help our children have some fun with words. I will be republishing them in the next two weeks.  Join me!

Up first- Poetry.   And yes, it’s fun. Wherefore, crazy lady, wherefore!?

Delicious! Crunch. Snack. Nom nom.

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