I hope everyone has survived another week in the 2e trenches. I have been talking to a lot of
parents lately about how things are going for their kids at school and one mom said something that
really summed things up for me. She said “Most parents drop their kid off at school and then go
on with their lives. But that is not the case with 2e kids.”
Wow, she really hit the nail on the head. The divide that exists between those two sentences is
as wide as the Grand Canyon. Let’s take a look.
Most parents drop their kids off at school and then go on with their lives. To me, this matches
up with the expectation that I – and many other families – have when we enroll our child at
school. I thought I would take my kids to elementary school and perhaps they would be scared
at first, and may even have some difficulty with the transition, but within a few days or even a
couple weeks, they would settle in. Eventually, they get into the swing of things, make friends,
create macaroni art and learn their ABCs. I assumed that as they progress through elementary
school, they will learn to read, write and do math, play kickball and tag during recess, and my
husband and I would take time off from work to enjoy visits to the classroom for special
occasions where our kids would show off their work. Perhaps we would need to speak to their
teachers at some point, but we assumed any issues could be addressed with a quick word during
drop-off/pick-up or at a parent-teacher conference.
Wow, doesn’t that sound so idyllic?
That is not the case with our kids. Indeed. To this day, my heart starts racing when I think
about how differently things turned out for us – and for so many other parents of twice
exceptional kids I have spoken with over the years. I don’t even know where to start. Do I start
in pre-school, because that is when you might start getting calls that your child is hitting
classmates because they have difficulty with pragmatic speech and can’t advocate for themselves?
Or maybe it’s in kindergarten when the teacher calls because your child refuses to
“get their wiggles out” before floor time, (because your child says they don’t have any wiggles
that need getting out?)
Perhaps its first grade, when the guidance counselor calls suggesting your child needs an
evaluation because she isn’t living up to her potential. It could be second grade when the calls
start coming because your child runs out of the room every time the teacher assigns a writing
project. Or maybe things don’t start to get difficult until third grade when the principal calls
because your child had a meltdown when he couldn’t explain how he got all the correct
answers on his math test.
As the parent of a 2e child, you cannot simply “get on with your day” after you have dropped
your child off at school. Because all day long you are on tenterhooks waiting for “the call.” And
that call could be anything from a request that you come in for a meeting (again) to a notification that
your child just received an in-school suspension, or a demand that you come pick them up
Parents of 2e kids constantly worry that EVERY phone call they receive during school hours is
from their kid’s teacher, or worse, the guidance counselor, or when things get really bad, the
principal. When I first enrolled my kids in school, I cleverly set my ringtone for the school to an
alarm sound, thinking that I would rarely hear it and I certainly would not want to miss the
school’s call because it would mean there was some sort of emergency. I had to change that
ringtone by the middle of kindergarten because I was hearing it so frequently and it meant that
whoever was on the other end of that phone call was going to be telling me something I was
afraid to hear.
After speaking with so many parents of 2e kids, I realized there is a special kind of Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder particular to our experience. It’s triggered by the sound of a ringing
phone and may include such features as an expectation of having to totally disrupted your day,
a fear of being fired for leaving work early AGAIN and a sense of dread that your child may end
up in jail.
Does this sound familiar? Does your heart skip a beat when the phone rings? How do you
handle the stress? I hope that by sharing what I and other parents go through, you will
know that there are others out there going through this too. You are not alone. And it’s not
happening because you are a bad parent. It’s happening because our schools need more
resources to learn how to work effectively with our kids.
I invite you to join TECA for an online support group in March, where you can connect with
other families experiencing the stress of raising a 2e kid in a “not 2e” school. And if you are looking for an advocate, neuropsychologist or other professional to help you address your child’s needs, check out TECA’s free Service Provider Database.
So hang in there, try to relax and enjoy your weekend and keep on keeping on!