Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Ebb and Flow of Oldest's Emotions

As with many gifted children, Oldest often cycles through being totally on top of her game or in the alternative, being at the bottom of the barrel.

I am planning an extensive Super Sunday Series on what I've learned about these cycles (coming this Fall to a Blog near you), but 1) must refresh myself on it and 2) must finish those very exciting overexcitabilities.  Week 3 is emotional overexcitability, which can strike fear in even the most hardy of parents.  Look for it Sunday.

But I digress.  Back to Oldest, and her current ebb.  She's struggling right now.  To get the proper visual, let's say the barrel's just been emptied of horse manure and she's stuck mucking it out.  Alone.  In cold weather.  Yes, that's right.  She's on scrubbing the bottom of the barrel this week. 

I am sad for her even while she is exasperating the hell out of me.  One of the things I find so hard about the school age years is that you (ok, me) never know what kind of trauma (drama?) is happening to your gifted child (or any child for that matter) while at school.  You don't know that she:
  1. only got 3 things done on her work plan
  2. lost recess time for "goofing off during the work cycle"
  3. lost extra recess time for laughing at someone in circle time
  4. got a cut that required (gasp and shock!) a bandaid
  5. got jostled out of line by someone in gym class
  6. was told by another friend that they are no longer friends after she tried to jostle her way back in.
Until she starts bawling, and I mean BAWLING over eating a lousy carrot.  Even after saying, "Oldest, this reaction seems a little extreme for not wanting to eat a carrot, is something else going on today?"  You only get the above information in little bits and pieces, one thing at a time, so that when you've asked her to get her legs back under the table for the 5th time in 15 minutes (rather than dangling them over the arm of the chair) and maybe you say it the last time a little more loudly than the first 4 times (ok, the neighbors could definitely hear it), you're even more suprised by the reaction of:
  1. I am the worst person EVER!
  2. No one calls me cute, only Youngest!  It's so NOT FAIR!
But then you pull your still cute Oldest onto your lap and she finally pours out all of the tears she's been holding inside all day.  After it's over, you tell her a little secret.  People don't call her cute anymore, they call her beautiful, smart, witty and kind.  But because she's 7, they don't say it to her, they say it to Mommy instead. 

And that the other secret is this - all of the things that people think are cutest in Youngest (like pulling down her pants at Panera to show a table of strangers her new Elmo underpants - really happened, could I make that up?), will become "no longer cute" in the not too distant future. 

And the final secret?  Cute's not what you want to be.  Neither is beautiful on the outside only.  It's the inside that counts.  I PRAY that she's learning that from us in this beauty and material driven society.  And I PRAY that I'm learning to let her fail enough to change the failures herself, and not blame others or want someone to fix it for her.  But it's soooooo hard.

And what the heck?  Didn't I just say yesterday that I have a super busy week?   That's always when this kind of thing goes on, isn't it?  I guess it's God's way of evening out our "practically perfect in every way" vacation week last week. 

Sigh.  We'll get through it.  We'll get through it.  We'll get through it.
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