dys·func·tion /dɪsˈfʌŋkʃən/ [dis-fuhngk-shuhn]–noun
1. Medicine/Medical . malfunctioning, as of an organ or structure of the body. 2. any malfunctioning part or element: the dysfunctions of the country's economy. 3. Sociology . a consequence of a social practice or behavior pattern that undermines the stability of a social system.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm Not Weird, I'm Gifted

For years I had a keychain with those exact words on it: "I'm Not Weird, I'm Gifted". Some novelty piece of garbage that I paid over two dollars for, because it really related to me. It related to how ostracized I felt from the main stream kids, how they viewed us 'gifties' as the elite, geniuses, who thought ourselves better than them.

Sometimes we did.

Please keep in mind that this post is based on MY experiences and opinions, and that I cannot speak for my peers.

Most of our class took the gifted testing during Grade 2 in order to qualify for the gifted program in Grade 3, and then we were told from a very young age that we were special, and more advanced than our main stream peers. You can imagine that this inflated our egos (at least mine) and we used to have a huge sense of animosity towards the main stream kids that we shared our school with. Even more so, towards the French Immersion kids that we shared our buses with.

The Gifted Program was designed to provide a more challenging curriculum to children who had the ability to learn faster than our main stream cohorts. This simple sentence was my defence throughout most of highschool, as I had to defend my stupidity and poor grades to throes of my peers who would snicker and say: "But aren't you gifted?"

"Gifted doesn't mean I'm smart," I'd retort, "it means I have the ability to learn faster. I choose not to use that ability."

Then we'd all laugh at my failures in life and move on.

When we came to school in Grade 3 as students of the gifted program, we were told that things were going to be different. That they were going to change. Before, we were big fish in a little pond; now, we were to be little fish in a big pond...not necessarily the best of our class.

Of course, every class has to have a student at the top, and a student at the bottom. In one swift year I went from being the top of my class in my main stream program, to one of the class clowns with one of the lowest grades in the gifted program. It destroyed my self confidence. It became easier (and a deeply ingrained self-defense mechanism) to laugh off my failures, play the fool, and pretend that grades were not important to me.

When we got to highschool, half of our classes were gifted classes, and the other half of our classes were main stream classes where we were split up and integrated into normal classes with normal kids.

It was terrifying.

I had spent 6 years forming lasting bonds and friendships with the other 'gifties' and quite suddenly I was expected to go out and interact with the kids who had been rude and torturous to us 'gifties' for our entire elementary lives.

We had formed no external social skills. No way to meet new people, fit into different social circles, anything. I relied heavily on my class-clownery to make new friends, and for a while I was successful. I was funny, people liked to spend time with me to hear and see all of the crazy antics I would come up with in the span of a class. Then one day, another giftie happened to mention that she...and I...were gifted students.

I lost half of my friends that day. People just stopped talking to me.

Our "advanced" classes were explained to us as 'teaching us the curriculum for the grade ahead of ours'. In Grade 9 we learned the Grade 10 curriculum; in Grade 10 we learned Grade 11; in Grade 11 we learned Grade 12. And then something happened. The gifted program ended in Grade 11 and in Grade 12 we just relearned our prior year's lessons. We were no further along then our main stream counterparts, except that we had been graded harder and taught faster.

When we all graduated we were awarded our 'gifted certificates' along with our diplomas. I've never even seen mine because my mother took it for 'safe keeping', and then disappeared from my life.

It doesn't matter though, the bloody thing isn't worth anything. Not. One. Thing. Not any extra awesomeness on a potential school application, nothing on a job resume, and not a thing to speak of to people. Worthless.

I look at my kids now and I think: "Big fish, little pond? What is so wrong with being a big fish in a little pond? Why would I want my kids to be put in a position where they could fail? In a position where they could lose self-esteem, social skills, a sense of accomplishment; for nothing?"

Big fish, little pond? Bring it on.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Cycle

"Hey!! Why can't you just listen to me?!" I scream.

"I. Just. Can't. Get. This. Piece. Of. Crap. To. Work." I seethe through clenched teeth before hitting the computer...with my forehead...willing one of the two objects to shatter.

"Go to your room! NOWWWW!!!" the animalistic growls that escape me are hard to describe...and yet eerily similar to the ones I heard as a child.

I never learned what to do with my anger.

As a child I witnessed a lot of anger. A lot. And it always resulted in screaming, violence, belittling, and broken objects. As a child, you learn from what you see.

I often wonder how 'normal' people deal with their anger.

How other parents dealt with misbehaving children.

When I was in elementary school I would get in fistfights with other children. They would anger me and I would hit them, and then some of them would hit back.

I was so filled with rage that I used to 'black out' and not be able to remember what happened during these episodes. There was a lot of thrashing. And screaming.

As I entered my teens I began to internalize the anger. The scars up and down my arms can attest to that. There was still a lot of screaming and hitting things, anything to expel the rage that boiled within. One day I turned to alcohol. The rage wouldn't boil if it was so diluted by litres of booze. I don't think the rage could even simmer in those days.

As an adult, I have tried to teach myself more effective ways of dealing with my anger. I want to teach my children better ways of dealing with theirs. Ways of stepping back and calming down, rationalizing, using words instead of physical force...but it's difficult. It's difficult to teach them things that I haven't been practising all that long.

I have to keep trying. For them.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hiding In Plain Sight

Happy First Day Back To School!

Not for Shake'n'Bake this year...she'll be starting Junior Kindergarten next year (in a better neighbourhood: win!) although I'm sure I'll be prepared much much earlier than September.

We started our Christmas shopping in June this year. Yes, June. We were out picking up a few things before the girls' birthdays and found a couple of things for Christmas. Then we made another big trip this past weekend to grab some Christmas presents.

I normally love to Christmas shop early in the year. I hate being in the stores in December if I don't have to be...things are too hectic then and I tend to get anxious, angry, and twitchy. So I avoid it whenever possible. The real kicker this year is that we are going to be demolishing, building, repairing, etc. for the last two weeks in October; then moving at the end of October; then unpacking and such during November and I am worried that I may be too busy then to Christmas shop.

So, to calm my worries, we have begun our Christmas shopping (I've actually finished 2 people already...back in August!) and that I am just packing the gifts as I purchase them.


I was quite smug with this decision up until this weekend when I purchased a particular gift that is bigger than any of the boxes/containers that I have available for packing.

I stressed about it for a couple of days, and then decided to try the trick that my parents used on us: hiding it in plain sight.

Now, Splat is still young enough that she didn't even blink an eye when we were putting these gifts into the cart. She doesn't associate 'in the cart' with 'this will become mine' yet, so we're okay there. But Shake'n'Bake is old enough to understand alllllll of that and much more. Out of desperation I have hidden this present in the pile of already packed boxes and riff raff, and I am just hoping that when we go to move it that she won't notice.


Yes, that's my plan.

Is anyone else excited for Christmas?!? ZOMG I am so excited. Christmas in ma noo hows! Ahahahaha!
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