Hi there, Moms!

Someone commented they could not tell who was writing this blog, so I thought I would reintroduce myself. I am Ellen Williams, Ed.D. I retired after 35 years in public education. I taught 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade before I became the gifted and talented coordinator in Cypress Fairbanks ISD in Houston, Texas. Next I moved to Kerrville, TX, which is NW of San Antonio on I-10. I was Senior Director of Advanced Academics there for over 12 years.

I have two kids, a daughter and a son, and four grandkids. I like everything education. I like to talk about motivation, passionate learning, differentiation, and parenting. I often refer to myself as a crone. Since I retired, I worry that I am seen as too old too be relevant. Young teachers might “glaze over” if I walked into their classroom and tried to show them how to do something, but old crones know stuff. They have life experiences that they can share. Think of the 3 witches in Macbeth who predicted 3 things in Act One of Macbeth. Macbeth ignored their warnings, but all three things came true. Those old crones knew stuff too.

I am not a witch and I don’t give warnings, but I do want to offer reassurance to young women who doubt their parenting when dealing with children with high potential. I know stuff. I have 42 years experience in teaching students. I have nearly as many years being a mom and grandmother! I made a lot of mistakes, and I have a lot of success stories to share. My greatest pride are my children and the students who I taught that are now successful adults across Texas and the nation.

I hope to share some of those stories over the next few weeks. No names, no intent to embarrass, but I hope that the stories of bright children and their struggles and triumphs will inspire you to look forward to the future with your children with hope and joy. There is nothing as precious (or as quickly fleeting) as childhood. Don’t let it slip away from you because you were busy worrying about what to do next.

I do suggest you keep a journal, preferably on paper, but online if that is your thing. If you do keep your memories in the cloud, consider printing it out once a year or two. Clouds crash. Electricity goes out. Hurricane  survivors will tell you that paper melts and floats away and backing it up in the cloud is all that  saved their pictures and documents. But part of writing a journal is a tactile experience you cannot get from a keyboard. Pencil or pen on paper works best with your brain according to neuroscience.

Writing by hand makes short term memories go to long term in the brain.  I also think the same things might happen in reverse. The memories come from your brain, down your arm, and onto the page. Or keyboard. One way or another,  write your child’s story down so when they are  grown, they can look back and get your perspective on their story. Your children’s story has two versions- the one they know and the one you remember. Both are precious.

Facebook, photos, and videos always show the positive side of life. Writing gives you the chance to put down the thoughts, the worries, the dreams and the hard work that went on behind all those happy pictures. It makes the story richer.

Here are a couple of journals you might like to use. They are small enough to put in a diaper bag, but are big enough not to get lost between the seats of the minivan. Like I said, I have been there.

Here is another one that is colorful, and has a great message.

Take a Break from Your Circus!

I have been away from the blogging world for over a month. I am still not sure if I am ready to start writing again, but I hope to connect with my readers and start a conversation about peace of mind. My mind seems to be exhausted, short circuited maybe, frazzled for sure. I do not feel mentally sharp or shiny. So I hope you will write me and talk to me about how you get reconnected with your purpose and your passion. My passion is gifted children. But lately, the Twitter/Facebook/Instagram feeds about gifted children going back to school seemed overwhelming. I honestly felt like the conversation has turned into a roar.

As a gifted child mom, do you ever want to step away from your gifted child’s needs and just take care of yourself? Can you stop the worry, the pressure, the advocacy and just “be”?

Different personalities deal with emotional stress in different ways. It is not about intelligence. I need silence at times to recharge. A darkened room and silence helps to calm my mind. Others need music, or to be out at a concert or club so they can disappear anonymously into a crowd.

I like social media, but too much exposure is depressing to me. I start worrying about problems that are not mine. I like to remember the meme I saw that said, “Not my monkeys. Not my circus.” As a gifted child mom, you may feel like the ringmaster in your family circus, trying to keep all the acts running smoothly. If you do, remember that self care is necessary to keep the show going. You may feel like if you crash, the whole tent will collapse. Prevent that from happening.

If you have a husband, partner, parent, or friend, don’t resist asking for help. Say, “I need two hours to myself. Will you please…(insert the appropriate phrase: run the car pool, do the laundry/dishes/vacuum/homework, buy the groceries). Then do whatever you need to quiet your mind. Meditate, sleep, go for a walk, go to Target, (whatever) so you can stop thinking. Two hours of peace can recharge you enough to make it to the next act in YOUR circus. Have a good weekend.

Can you be Happy and be a Gifted Child Mom?

Do you watch Ted Talks on YouTube? If not, they are wonderful lectures on many subjects, including parenting. I watched one today I wanted to share with you: Happiness is a very high bar

Once upon a time, we expected our children to work by our side, whether in a factory or on the farm, and help the family survive. That changed at the end of the industrial revolution and we sent our children to school.  School became their job. We expected children to do well in school. Now middle class parents have put expectations on their children’s success in extra curricular activities.

Success in sports competitions has become the new job we pressure children to master. The pressure we put on them is the pressure we put on ourselves. Be sure to watch the video to hear how the speaker deals with expectations. It will make you feel better.

I never thought about the pressure Moms put on themselves when my children were young. I was too busy and too tired. Moms are usually the ones who sit with the kids to help with homework. Mom is the one that drives to soccer, baseball, scouts, and piano lessons. Many Dads do the sport things and carpooling, but I don’t know if Dads feel the same pressure. Dads can write their own blog.

On top of the usual parenting expectations set by the media and in popular baby manuals, consider that you have to multiply it by the factor of Giftedness. The expectations become both higher and heavier.

Gifted Child Moms worry that they are not enriching their children enough. They worry if their child is an emotionally immature, but intellectually brilliant child who cries when he/she has to go out to recess because he/she wants to keep reading a favorite book. The more you worry, the unhappy you feel.

How can you be a HAPPY gifted child mom? Best advice is get off social media. Your house will never look like Pinterest. Your friends’ Facebook pictures will always look happier than you feel. Quit thinking you have to be more to be a good Gifted Child Mom. Instead, do less.

Plan less. If your children are under ten, try this. When your children comes home from school, instead of rushing off to lessons or play dates, do 3 things:

1. Have them sit down with you and talk with you. Don’t be on your cell phone while they are talking. Listen. Look right in their eyes and see what they are NOT saying. Do they seem happy? Sad? Worried? Tired?

2. While they are talking, give them something to drink and eat. Did you know that children think the most clearly 10 minutes after they drink 8 ounces of water? A hydrated brain is a smarter, better functioning brain. They will talk more.

3. After at least ten full minutes of interacting with your children without any interfering technology (no TV, IPad, phone for any of you) and a snack, ask about homework. If they say “Nothing” or “I did it on the bus”, ask to see it. Reviewing homework lets you see if it correct, complete, and legible. It shows you care about homework being done and done well. If they really don’t have homework to do or do over, congratulate them and sit down WITH them and read. For little kids, read picture books together for 15-20 minutes. Grade-schoolers who can read independently should read 15-30 minutes. While they are reading, you should sit down and read silently too. No washing dishes, no talking on the phone, just sit and read. You are modeling the love of reading. They will emotionally connect the love of reading with the love of being with you.

If they are resistant to reading alone, read aloud WITH them. “I read a page, you read a page” is a great way to lessen the stress and share an experience. Trust me, reading together and talking about what you read helps build both comprehension and vocabulary. Having this two-way conversation with your gifted children, you will start to feel…happy. All together, this should only take about an hour of time.

Enjoy your children. At every age, there are magic moments that if you are busy worrying or running around, and you will miss the magic.

If you think, “Well, soccer is at 4 on Tuesday-Thursday and the other kid has brownies on Wednesday, and, and, and…take just one week off from everything extra curricular, like you would do if they were sick. For five days, do just 3 things- talk, have a snack together, read together. It is one hour. At the end of five days, see if you feel happier and less stressed. You may want to go back to lessons and practice, which is fine, but anytime you are overwhelmed, take a break and just be a mom with your child. Take an hour and interact. In a year, the few lessons you skipped won’t matter at all.

What you will remember is the hour you and your children interacted and read together, not the hour you spent in the car on the way to practice. Be happy.