All the Joys of Jackson
Jackson has been a blessing since the minute he was born. After my body went through over 26 hours of labour, he was worth every second. We have gone on quite a journey with this boy. Through so many highs and lows, he is an extremely unique and wonderful human being and I could not be more proud to be his mom. This is going to be a long one friends and while I will try to answer as many questions that you've had as possible, I will attempt to cover six and a half years of the journey into one blog post, so buckle up!
I was 24 years old when I had Jackson, and all of my friends were just beginning the engagement/wedding season of their lives. We never had anyone to watch or “compare” to, so for us, Jackson seemed an average kid. We watched him do things like sit through full grown-up movies (Mama Mia was his favourite) at just a few months old to sitting and flipping through books for a LONG time on his own. His attention span was abnormal in retrospect, but this was normal to us at the time. Fast-forward into his toddler years and this is where things took a slight turn for the worse. I remember going through the “terrible twos”, the meltdowns coming in strong, and I kept telling myself this was just a normal phase, although a rough one. It was in his 3rd and 4th years I remember very clearly certain days being absolutely drained and defeated from fighting with him for hours in a day. I was constantly blaming myself for raising him wrong or dealing with him wrong, or being weaker than other moms I compared myself to. I knew these were “difficult” stages, and every child is different, but this was slowly knocking me down. I never knew what he was going to do in any situation, he was unpredictable and large enough physically he was hard to handle. I was embarrassed and felt judged as a mother when meltdowns happened in public, I felt like I wasn’t good enough and didn’t know what to do.
When Jackson was four we realized he just made the cutoff to be put into Kindergarten that year, educationally we knew he was ready, but we were concerned about his behaviour. Every day it would run through my head, what if he has a meltdown at school and hits a kid or a teacher? Every day I dropped him off I worried and waited by my phone. When we met with his teacher at the first parent-teacher conference I brought a book he was reading, and his teacher was shocked. She assessed his reading level the next month, and in October of his Kindergarten year, he was reading at an end of year grade 4 level. It was around this point in time that things started to click for us. She asked me if we had looked into the behavioural traits of gifted students but at the time I didn't have a clue. We bought books on the subject and tried to work through some things with Jack, at the same time his teacher started giving Jackson different options at school. She was absolutely incredible and we are so thankful for his teacher and all she did for him. We got through the year with only a few issues and decided to homeschool him the next year.
Our decision was because he was too young to be assessed by a psychologist yet, so the public school system couldn’t really provide any additional resources for him until he was assessed and possibly coded in the system. Having him coast and struggle through another year was something we couldn’t face. We also wanted to see for ourselves if his giftedness was just in reading, or if he was gifted in all areas.
Our Homeschooling Experience
Jackson thrived in homeschool, he is great at being a homebody and found no problems with doing school with me and his brother in the comfort of our own home. I, however, loved the beginning but by mid-winter, I was struggling so much with my depression I was scared. I am a bubbly, social, outgoing individual (well, I was). Being stuck inside all winter long, with two boys that fought most of the day, by myself, was the absolute worst thing for someone with my personality. I struggled hard, and halfway through February, I was done. Something had to change, and now. I wish I was someone who thrived being a homebody, I love my kids more than life itself, but I am just not made to be at home with kids by myself 24/7. With all that in mind, we decided to get Jackson assessed after he turned 6 to give us more clarity on what to do with the coming year.
I am going to apologize right now. If you have made it this far just to hear his IQ score, you are going to be very disappointed because we're not telling you! We are not going to tell Jackson until at least his high school years, maybe not even until after he graduates. Very close friends and family know, but we are keeping this to ourselves for our own privacy and for his benefit.
However, what we will tell you is this - he is extremely gifted. This spring he was reading at a grade 8.5 level student, and his verbal comprehension was literally off the charts. I’m going to brag here just for a second because I am so beyond proud of him. When we met with the psychologist about his results, I had such a panic attack after I had to cancel my plans for the evening to try and process this information because it was so extreme.
I am so, so proud to be his mom. I do feel sometimes like I birthed an alien as he is one of very few in his situation, and I am so excited to see who he becomes and what he does with his gifts. I feel like I understand him more, why we’ve gone through what we’ve been through, and so many answers to questions we’ve had for years. However, I am ever more terrified and overwhelmed. Some days I feel like my child is so different he will never feel like he belongs and I am scared for situations in our future. Paul says when I talk about it, I seem a bit negative about this whole situation. I feel that is only because I now know that these struggles we’ve faced all these years aren’t an easy fix or something that will go away, this is who he is, and as amazing and exciting as it is; it comes with some pretty huge and scary behavioural complications.
I pray every day that I will be the best mother to both my boys that I can be, whatever that may look like. This last year involved a lot more yelling than I would like to admit, a few too many meltdowns on my end, and I am not going to sit here and pretend I have it all together. Every mother has to learn and grow with their kids and figure out how to get through this giant beautiful mess of parenting, we just get this extra sweet challenge of our amazingly unique Jackson, and our equally unique Maddox as well.
“Having children just puts the whole world into perspective. Everything else just disappears.” – Kate Winslet
Our plan - well that is a fun question that has been asked on repeat! This is our CURRENT plan at this moment, and we are fully aware that it can change any minute. We have decided to put Jackson back in public school, as he loves being around other kids and we think that it is very important to keep him socially involved(as well as keeping my mental state in check). We plan to apply at a gifted school this month to try and get him in for next year, so we will see how that goes. If we do get accepted, a house change will probably need to happen as well, but we will deal with that stress when the time comes.
I hope this blog post answers all of your questions and gives a quick-ish view into what our lives have been like, who Jackson is, and what we are going to face in the next coming few years. If you do have any more questions, please comment below or email me, or if you can relate or anything, feel free to contact me and lets chat! We mamas need to be there for each other, and the support I’ve had over these last few trying years has been life-changing.
“Accept the children the way we accept trees — with gratitude, because they are a blessing — but do not have expectations or desires. You don’t expect trees to change, you love them as they are.” — Isabel Allende