Where do we begin? Can I be honest with you and lay it all out? Will you withhold your judgement, your cynicism, your criticism about socialization, and tiger parents, and giftedness? That would be marvelous.
Our child- she is an intricate arrangement of possibilities stretching in infinite planes. She is unapologetically the center of our multiverse. This in and of itself does not distinguish us from other parents, and like every parent around this globe, we too have a unique experience.
What sets our own journey apart, however, is the giftedness. Oh horror, I used a word that triggers certain people. Going into great detail about the characteristics of a gifted learner is something that any Google search can instantly reveal. I’ve done my time in the educational machine researching various definitions and characteristics- if you are in search of these definitions and resources you may visit my resource page. Our child is gifted- profoundly. She also happens to be a diligent worker. This combination has allowed her to pursue advanced coursework that is often unattainable without a honed set of executive function skills.
But enough about her for a moment. I want to talk about Mt. Everest.
Hopeful, naive, idealistic climbers risking their lives to summit the highest peak in the world need something besides health, will, gear, tenacity, and money to get them there- they need a guide. They need a Sherpa. That’s me, that’s us if this is all ringing true for you. We are fearless, exhausted, underpaid, overworked guides who will never quit. Put those lyrics into Pat Benetar’s voice and we have a theme song.
As mothers, fathers, grandparents, caregivers we all do this for our offspring. In the most elemental evolutionary sense of the explanation we are just trying to further the reproduction of our own little packets of personalized DNA. We are all in some sense Sherpas.
However, what sets my Sherpa experience apart is that I am climbing without the company of others, without the gear, without the certainty or luxury of a path laid out before me to ensure my climber summits.
Profoundly gifted climbers and their guides forge our own trails. If we are extremely fortunate we will have the benefits of wisdom from a select group of individuals who have also forged their own trails. And while these treks in all likelihood varied greatly in direction there may be some glint of wisdom we can apply to our own journey.
I hope this is where I can be of some assistance to the Sherpas just waking to the enormity of the journey ahead of them. And with that I want to leave you with one glint of wisdom passed down to me, one constant to your future climb- be always ready to change course. The weather can turn, the can trail can dwindle, the climber may run thin on oxygen- be ready to change course. This is true for Sherpas and climbers on treacherous excursions and its true for parents and gifted learners navigating their own expedition into the educational system.