Vol III, No 1 January 13, 2020
│Parenting teenagers is like nailing jello to a tree.

I’m sure you’ve heard this. I heard it back when my boys were wee young things, when potty training was the issue du jour and I rarely got a moment to myself (wait…that was yesterday…never mind). However, I find it to be inaccurate. You can nail jello to a tree. With enough time, the correct nails, and the proper consistency of gelatinous snack product, I bet I can get that jello not only attached to a tree but be the walls of a treehouse to boot. Not the floor, I’m not that good. It’s tough, but it can be done. A wiggly, jiggly, parenting treehouse. Appropriate.

Parenting gifted or twice-exceptional teenagers? More like managing a large mercury spill. You can do everything right, follow all the instructions by all the experts, stock up on hazmat suits, and it’s still more than likely it will all end badly. It ain’t for the faint of heart, yo. Every day is a new adventure, not one you expected or wanted, and you’re leading the expedition with an outdated map and mercury in your socks…not to mention mixed metaphors. And the treehouse is probably in full-scale nuclear meltdown.

│Parenting teenagers is like being pecked to death by a chicken.

Some days, I’d rather take my chances with the chicken. I can dropkick that little sucker across the road if need be (and there’s the answer to the age-old riddle). But, for the most part, this age is infinitely easier than the infant/toddler/elementary ages. They have the basics of self-care down (I don’t have to wipe butts anymore, which I just canNOT emphasize enough how much I appreciate), car seats are a thing of the past, and if they don’t sleep they sure as hell know better than to involve me in their late night insomnia. We have wonderful conversations, their humor is broadening past knock-knock jokes and poop (mostly), and I really really enjoy my sons now in a way I wasn’t sure I was ever going to see. Hearing them sing old Weird Al songs and quote Monty Python sketches may drive me batshit crazy (because it’s non-freaking-stop), but it is so, so awesome.

But DAMN it’s mentally and emotionally taxing. If I were newborn-level sleep deprived on top of it all, I’d be a basket case. More. I’d be more of a basket case. I have a metric crapton of baskets over here and I keep weaving more. Maybe I’ll build a Mom Fort from baskets. There’d be plenty of storage for my accompanying baggage.
│Parenting teenagers is why animals eat their young.

I’m convinced the boys are messing with me. They always had this Goofus and Gallant thing going on, but now they’re swapping roles without warning. A case of good cop/bad cop, kid style. One kid is rolling his eyes and mouthing off and struttin’ his ‘tude and the other is in the kitchen, calmly unloading the dishwasher without being reminded while having a conversation about his deep thought of the moment. And, then, before you know it, switcheroo, a la Freaky Friday.

│Parenting G2e teens is like random emoji from your text-happy teen:


You have no clue what’s going on, are grateful they shared, now have a slight headache, and are wondering if the wine glasses are clean or if you could get away with lips directly on the bottle. Box dispenser. Whatever.

We had a small taste of empty nesterhood a few weeks ago when the boys went camping for several days. It was odd. Quiet. The house stayed clean. We had uninterrupted conversations. I could think without the Mom Radar going off, which was bizarre. I shoveled off my desk and got some long-due stuff done. I could crank up Perry the Parabolic Heater without worrying that Andy had his heater on in his room, thus tripping a circuit and losing power in my office, which is why I’m returning to this post an hour later because I’d had it and I was hungry and might as well do laundry while I was downstairs so turn off your damned heater and put on socks because I AM WEARING MULTIPLE LAYERS AND I AM STILL COLD I GET DIBS ON THE CIRCUIT FOR THE HEATER WHY DO I SEE SNOW IN APRIL?!

Ahem. It was nice is what I’m saying. But it was also kinda dull. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s the kind of dull I could use slightly more often, but I was glad to have my boys back. Wish the attitude had been taken out to the mountains and thrown into a bear den to be destroyed by a pissed-off mama bear awakened before she was ready, but it was nice to have them home.

Even if it meant the jello treehouse was full of chickens eating their young, melting down from the mercury spill, and texted to me in 21st century hieroglyphics.

Jen Merrill is a writer, music educator, and gifted-family advocate. The mom of two boys, she homeschooled one twice-exceptional son through high school while happily sending the other out the door every morning. Her book, If This is a Gift, Can I Send It Back?, struck a nerve with families; her second book, on the needs of gifted parents and selfcare, is in progress. In addition to writing on her longtime blog, Laughing at Chaos, Jen has presented at SENG, NAGC, and WCGTC.

Jen brings both her acquired wisdom and her experience as a teacher and mentor to her work in the service of parents, teaching them techniques and mentoring them into their own versions of success. Her goal is to support parents of gifted and twice-exceptional kids, because they are the ones doing the heavy lifting and are too often ignored, patronized, and discredited. It is her hope that her sons never have to deal with these issues when they raise their own likely gifted children.
Summit Center Introduces Group Therapy
Summit Center provides assessments, counseling and consultation for gifted and twice-exceptional children, adults, and families, using a strength-based approach. We now offer weekly groups for teens, each focused on a specific topic such as sibling relationships, navigating social situations, and executive-functioning skills; as well as a social skill-building for preschoolers. Sign up now for groups beginning February 2021.

For more information, email info@summitcenter.us or call our office at (925) 939-7500 or (310) 478-6505. Details at https://summitcenter.us/services/parent-education-support/
Familiar, Dynamic, Gifted Family Dynamics

I love a good metaphor. Both the fields of education and psychology are chock full of them. As a writer, student, and #GiftedHomeEd-ucator who dabbles in both, I’ve met a few metaphors myself: Stephanie S. Tolan’s cheetah, Seth Perler’s iceberg, and Scott Barry Kaufman’s sailboat, to name a few. I’m gleeful and grateful to add GHF® Author Jen Merrill’s “Mixed Metaphors of Parenting Gifted and Twice-Exceptional Teens” to the list.

Parents of G/2e teenagers, such as Jen, nourish my soul. I appreciate the “Heads up! ‘[J]ello treehouse . . . full of chickens eating their young, melting down from the mercury spill, and texted . . . in 21st century hieroglyphics’ ahead!” Thanks, Jen. Really. I’m not sure why this sounds easier than my own farmhouse held together with tape (because tape is ubiquitous around here) and inhabited by frogs and monkeys, but it does indeed.

Jen’s description might sound easier because, I mean, who doesn’t like jello, chickens, and emojis? I’m unsure about the mercury spill part, but it can’t be any worse than snot, marker, and toothpaste on everything; poop smears on the walls (Why?!?!?); a monkey’s vomit in my mouth (BLECHHH); and flossing a frog’s mouth full of braces (What is that and how did it get in there?)can it?

It is here I must note that I see you, similes passing yourselves off as metaphors, but . . . let it go, Stacie, let it go. I’ve got a frog and a monkey to parent through a pandemic, social unrest, a national mental health crisis, and political upheaval to boot. I’m sure my former English professors will understand. And, if they don’t, I’ll kindly point them to The GHF Forum, where they can meet others who appreciate the intensities, asynchronies, and philosophies of gifted and twice-exceptional home educators.

While in The GHF Forum, you can search for more metaphors in the GHF Writers’ Showcase. Go ahead and check out the various groups, upcoming events, choices, and member discounts available there, too.
Most of us have watched DIY shows on TV. Handy people invite us to watch their creative approach to their current project. Have you noticed that the bigger the project, the more help they need? These folks consult experts, refer to source materials, explore options, and enlist help.

Your project is your child's education, with the goal of helping them learn what they need to become independent adults. Our kids may engage in higher education, trade school, careers, volunteer work, or go down a host of other paths, but our job is to help them be as prepared as possible to reach for their goals.

Homeschoolers do not DIY with only their own wits and limited materials. Homeschool parents are some of the most resourceful people in the world. They consult experts, refer to source materials, explore options, and enlist help. Sound familiar?

I have faith that our combined internal compasses will lead us to the next blue diamond as a family. I understand and accept that we will travel over mountain passes and through storms. I also know along the way we will find spectacular sunrises and sunsets and maybe even a few perfect turns in knee deep powder.

I will remember that day always. We (my husband, son, and myself) woke up in a quiet underground cocoon on Saint Marks Place in the East Village of New York City, after an evening spent exploring the Lower East Side. The earth held us in a studio-sized deprivation tank dressed up as an apartment. Thank God we had slept well; I knew the day would be an adventure. We were scheduled to meet Native American Cochiti artist Virgil Ortiz, my son’s mentor, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that morning to deliver four necklaces our son had made the day before we flew to NYC. He had already designed, fabricated, and shipped staffs for the performance the week prior. We took pictures on the imposing and elegant front steps, impressed and wooed by the stunning architecture. Inside the museum, I was captivated by an ancient Egyptian ivory ornamental hair comb from 3200 BC with animals carved into it. The second wave of astonishment washed over me several steps later as I gazed at hieroglyphs.

I thought about how art was never meant to be separated from life. Why is the current culture segregating education from the arts? The integration is permanent. Not chosen, not directed. It is interwoven into our inhales and our exhales. Art is an elective class in schools after elementary age and at most, involves a few hours a week. What if a student’s first language is creativity? What if the way they process life, love, and knowledge is wholly dependent on art, on creativity? We understand that each individual has a preferred and most efficient way of learning new things. Some people are auditory dominant, some are visual/spatial learners, some prefer reading printed language, and some prefer kinesthetic pathways. How many people need to process new information in a creative, abstract, artistic way? I have no idea, because very very very few people are ever given this opportunity. This type of process needs space. Literal and figurative. Emotional space. Space between the parent’s fear about what their children are or are not learning.

We Hope You Enjoy This GHF Press Latest Release!
Is Giftedness a myth? What is a Gifted Child? Why is Giftedness such a hot-button issue? Where does the fear and dislike of ‘gifted’ come from?

Come on an adventure about how Mrs. Einstein, newspaper articles from the 1920s, and the San people of the Kalahari Desert can help us understand what gifted isand is not.

In an easy-to-read style, Gifted Myths explores these and other stories on the history, science, and lived experience of gifted and twice-exceptional families.

Gifted Myths is a must-read for parents, educators, and professionals who work with gifted and twice-exceptional children.
A Supportive Community for Gifted Learners
Come join us in the GHF Forum, our new online community where GHF will be sharing all of our services and resources.
  • Crowdsourced resource library (join the project)
  • Discussion groups
  • Parenting
  • Professionals
  • Gifted Adults
  • Empty Nesters
  • Regular Coffee Chats to take a break and share

INCLUDED in GHF Family Membership:
  • GHF Choices: DIY Education
  • GHF Expert Series
  • GHF Member Discounts
GHF connects all sorts of people who love gifted learners. We offer both family and professional memberships to support and encourage adults working to create new ways of educating gifted learners. Our members homeschool gifted and twice-exceptional kids, run homeschool co-ops and micro-schools, write to foster understanding of gifted and twice-exceptional learners, mentor students one-on-one, teach online classes, provide services specifically designed to meet the social and emotional needs of gifted and twice-exceptional learners, and more. Wed love for you to join us.

GHF is a 501c3 organization. Please consider supporting our community with your most generous gift today. For more information on our organization, please feel free to contact us at info@ghflearners.org. Thank you!