I recently had an epiphany after trying to explain twice-exceptional (2e) to someone who, for whatever reason, fails to understand it or chooses not to understand it despite my trying on more than one occasion. While processing my disappointment and frustration with this person basically blowing off my explanation of the professional testing we had done and what we learned, I realized something.
2e is a Hidden Reality
If my daughter had been born blind, deaf, diabetic, or missing a limb, everyone would understand it. It would be right there in front of them. But because with twice-exceptionality the challenges originate in the brain where they can’t be seen, there is less understanding. No one is going to blame a parent if a child struggles because she is blind or deaf. But if a child varies with doing everything at the “right” time and the “right” way a “normal” child should (as dictated by the public school assembly line paradigm), it is somehow the fault of the parents whether it is their parenting, homeschooling, socialization, or whatever. If a child has an insulin problem, there is sympathy and understanding because it isn’t the child’s fault. If a child has a difference in the way her brain connections work, someone must be to blame.
The Journey of 2e Parenting
On my page devoted to parenting 2e or twice-exceptional children, I have a number of videos. This entire video is excellent, but I especially appreciated the last few minutes because he speaks to the reality of living in the 2e world whether you are a parent or a child. I’ve cued it up to start at the appropriate place.
Shifting My Thinking about 2e
The biggest shift in my thinking toward embracing my journey as a parent of a twice-exceptional child came when I realized a few things.
- Our journey is not going to look like the typical parenting journey. We’ve had to make a lot of adjustments in our thinking. This includes schooling choices, curriculum choices, extra-curricular choices, church choices, discipline choices, friendship choices, fitting in choices, and (I suspect) higher education choices. My daughter’s path through childhood and young adulthood isn’t going to look anything like mine or my husband’s. And I thankfully reached the point where I am at peace with that.
- This is a marathon and there is no auto-pilot. My need to constantly learn and research to stay a few steps ahead of her isn’t going to end until she’s enrolled in college or working.
- God gave me this child I specifically prayed for for years. I can trust Him that this is all going to turn out just fine for her, for me, and for our family as we seek to guide her. After waiting so long for the blessing of this child and praying specifically for her for so many years, I have no doubts that God has His hand on her and her life journey.
- I can either embrace this unexpected and atypical journey or else miss out on the joys and best parts of parenting and loving my child.
An Atypical Marathon
Thinking of parenting a 2e child like an atypical marathon is helpful. But that isn’t to say I’m doing this marathon perfectly. Although it has gotten easier each year and we can clearly see our hard work starting to pay off in some significant ways, there were many times I wanted to put my head down and cry. “Lord, this is just too hard. I’m weary. I don’t know how I’m going to do this for so many more years. What if I’m completely screwing everything up?”
Parenting and homeschooling a 2e child takes self-doubt to a level I never could have anticipated. I not only have to be her mom and her teacher/mentor/guide, but also her advocate. It is challenging. It is a lot of responsibility. Although I have found other parents who understand parts of my journey, it is really lonely. If you’ve met one 2e kid, you’ve met one 2e kid. They are all so different in their strengths and struggles. It’s a lonely journey that can make you experience tremendous self-doubt, even if you’ve always been a capable take-charge-and-get-it-done type person. But embracing the marathon idea makes it easier. There’s no magic bullet. There is just putting one foot in front of the other each day.
Embracing the 2e Journey
I can honestly say I have fully and even joyfully embraced this journey. I think it has become easier to embrace it now that we have identified it. As I wrote before, getting a professional opinion was a game changer for me personally. If you think you have a twice-exceptional child but struggle with self-doubt with your parenting because you don’t know for sure, I highly recommend considering the testing. I think it does matter that we identify our gifted children for many reasons, including for the sake of the parents. We tend to focus on all the positives for the child when we make decisions such as homeschooling her, but we also need to practice self-care as we embrace this unique journey we are on.