Give Yourself a Birthday Gift!

I am amazed at how hard Moms work to give their children the most memorable of birthday gifts and parties. For previous generations, gifts were fewer and farther between. Often it was ONE gift, not the entire Amazon toy section.

My father was born in 1915. When he was 4, he and his brother, who was 9, received an extravagant gift for the time, a Victrola. It was such a big deal, an article in the local newspaper was written about it. The boys and their friends were delighted at the music that played when the big discs were put on the turntable and the handle was turned. That Victrola was always in my parents house until my father died in 2014, when he was 99. Now it sits in my brother’s home. It is a reminder of a simpler time. It still plays. Going through his things, I found a copy of the newspaper article about this amazing, extravagant gift that my father had kept. The Victrola was a gift that has lasted over 100 years. Do your children even remember what you bought them last year?

I have told my children not to buy me any more “stuff”. I would rather be taken out to dinner, or get to spend time with them and my grandchildren at 64. If I need clothes or appliances, I just click on Amazon and boom. I am gifted.

This year I decided to give myself the gift of accomplishment. This year and every year, I want to accomplish something that I will be proud of for years to come. I want to learn how to do something new or create something that may help others in some way.

I wrote a children’s phonics book. It isn’t the book that is the real gift. It is the gift of learning how to use Kindle Direct Publishing that is the gift. It is to take the risk, going out on a limb, and hiring an illustrator. It is the rush of writing and editing and rewriting it, hoping that my grandchildren would enjoy seeing a book that Nana wrote. All of you young Gifted Child Moms out there, challenge yourself to continue to learn new things and create, even if you do not see yourself as a creative type.

Stuff is not what is important. When your children are grown, they will not remember the party, the colorful molded plastic action hero, doll, or push toy you bought them. What they will remember is the time you gave them your undivided attention. You need to do the same thing with yourself. Give yourself your undivided attention and build YOUR brain. Be proud of yourself. Accomplish something. It is the best gift you can give yourself and your children. Give yourself the gift of accomplishment. It always is the right size and does not have to be returned. It is appropriate though, to share.

By the way, it really is my 64th birthday today! Happy Birthday to me and my book.

Click on the picture below to order this book:

Thanks for sharing with anyone you know with young children who are just starting to read. There is a kindle version, too, but it is a separate listing, because I am still learning. I haven’t figure out how to make it one of two format options yet. Keep learning!

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.

Emotional Meltdowns and the Gifted Child: What is a Mom Supposed to do?

If my child is so smart, why does he/she act like such a baby?”

Part of it is called  asynchronous development. That means that one part of your child, their intelligence is not “in sync” with their physical and emotional development. An average six-year-old will look like they are six. They will be similar in height, weight, and demonstrate expected physical abilities of a six-year-old, such as kicking a ball and running . They start losing their teeth. They learn to tie their shoes.

But a gifted child may be intellectually two or three years ahead of their chronological age. They may read and understand Harry Potter at 6. Meanwhile, they may be physically clumsy or uncoordinated. They may be emotionally immature and melt-down like a three-year old. Part of it is the frustration caused by being intellectually frustrated with other six-year olds who want to play make-believe or have a tea party when they want to talk about ending world hunger or global warming. Emotional intensity is not a universal trait of all gifted children, but it is a common one. This book may give you more insight into this behavior:

Another melt-down trigger may be bullying by other children who call them a nerd, or a baby if they cry easily. Children want to be liked. They want to fit in, but gifted children sometimes are more comfortable with their intellectual peers rather than their age peers. So if your gifted child is school age, he or she may benefit from being accelerated to a higher grade to be with intellectual peers. They may be emotionally or physically out of sync, but at least they will have others around them that they can relate to intellectually.

It depends on the child. Making the decision to accelerate is a very individualized decision. Check out these books for more information on academic acceleration. Often, the emotional benefits of being with intellectual peers lessens the negative aspects of asynchronous physical or social development. They have so much information and so many reasons to consider acceleration, it is in two volumes!

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A good resource to connect to other moms to read about emotional intensity is on the “blog hop” on Hoagies Gifted Education parent web page:  http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/parents.htm . This website bugs me because it is so crowded with so much information, but if you are persistent and dig deep (did you read my previous post about this topic?), you will find some great resources.

Here is a blog I particularly like, because I know the author, the fabulous Lisa Van Germert:  http://giftedparentingsupport.blogspot.com/   Lots of good articles here for parents.

So gifted child mom, do you have any comments about emotional intensities? I would love for you contact me and share your story.