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If This is a Gift, Can I Send it Back?: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice Exceptional (Perspectives in Gifted Homeschooling Book 3) Kindle Edition
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Filled with little gems through which the reader has flashes of recognition and finds comfort to know that he or she is not alone out here, this is one of my favorites:
"the [school] district's GT program is more for high-achievers, and not exactly for gifted students. Gifted students can be high-achievers, but not all high-achievers are truly gifted. I swear I'll say it until my lungs hurt, but gifted is wiring. Parents who desperately want gifted kids really want high-achieving kids, because if they truly had gifted kids with the (hmm, what descriptor shall I use?) interesting wiring, they'd be rocking under their desks, quivering like the rest of us. It ain't all sunshine and roses, folks. Some days make me want to stab a rainbow."
Merrill gives voice to many of this reviewers own frustrations as she describes her family's journey from institutional schooling to homeschooling. It's not that we disdain society and don't want to fit in, we just want to see our kids flourishing. It's not that we believe teachers aren't up to the task--as Merrill puts it, "Teachers are the front-line scapegoats for a very broken system." It's just that we have to put our kids before the system.
Merrill eloquently describes the razor's edge we travel of making a choice between working to fit in and deciding to do something different. In the end, some of us choose to try to work with the system, and some choose to stand with our kid outside the system. Neither choice is right or wrong, neither path is easy, and as canaries in the coal mine, we should all be chirping in harmony: the system is broken.
Merrill offers no easy answers about system reform, but it's possible that this journey we are on is one that will eventually lead to a new vision for what it means to educate all children well. And it may be that some of our children, allowed to learn along their own unique pathways, will be the ones to design the new schools so desperately needed for the world of the future.
The hardest part of reviewing this book is truly the fact that I have no clue what the best part of it is. I picked up the book not long after its release, in ebook format. I was so excited to read it that I wasn't about to wait for it to be delivered. I got the book and devoured it, again in one sitting. It's a hazard of reading quickly as well as reading good books.
First, the book is funny. Not silly or goofy, but it's down to Earth, and really brings humor into a daily life that sometimes makes you feel like you want to pull out all your hair. Jen does a spectacular job of not only commiserating with the trials of raising intense, twice-exceptional children, she does it with a light touch that leaves you laughing, regardless of whether or not your child painted their latest masterpiece directly on the living room carpeting while you went to the bathroom. It's an awful lot like Jen lives in my house, somewhere, and there are days I wonder if the pile of unfolded laundry isn't big enough for her to actually BE in there.
There aren't a whole lot of tips, honestly, for how to raise these kids, but what you take from the book is almost an internalization of the kind of sense of humor you need to deal with the kind of life twice-exceptional kids will almost always lead you to living. Her resources section is spot on, however, and many of the websites provide those step 1, step 2 directions that aren't in the book itself.
Reading this book, you get a sense that you really know Jen. Like she's a friend from down the block. I'm unsure if this is simply writing style, or that I really wanted to know Jen (because I can't possibly be doing this alone!), but you come out of it feeling like you've got a new friend. Since the time I read the book the first time and today, I've learned something - it is very much like you've found a new friend, because Jen is exactly as you'd expect. She's witty, funny, engaging, and having been in the trenches ahead of me, she really gets it. And thank goodness for that.
If you're looking for a "survival guide" with a step-by-step guide, sadly, you're going to be out of luck. That doesn't just apply to this book, though. As I'm realizing more and more as I meet new and different children who are gifted or twice-exceptional, every last one of them is different. There will never be a manual because the only generalization you can truthfully make about these children is that they are extremely difficult to generalize. Rather than being a step-by-step guide, this book is the kind of relaxing read that reminds you it's okay to have a bad day, and tomorrow will be a new start. It reminds you that you truly are not alone, and that others out there do have your back, even if you have to hunt them down.
If I'm being completely honest, I got this book in 2012, and I have easily read it over a dozen times since. I recommend it to anyone and everyone I know who has gifted or 2E children, and I bought the hard copy the minute I had the chance - not because I needed it, but because I wanted to have a copy to lend out at a moment's notice. Also, I love it enough that it's absolutely worth buying two. Or three, or really even four. But, I'm a book hoarder. If you haven't read this book, please do. It's genuinely worth every moment, every penny, and is one of my go-to books when I'm feeling overwhelmed, lost, or panicked.