Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Coming Out of the Closet

Everyone has a secret.  They try to keep it hidden from prying eyes.  Sometimes those eyes belong to strangers and family alike.  Some secrets are embarrassing and some will send you to jail.

When you have a secret, you go to great lengths to hide it.  You make up stories, omit parts of the truth, and if necessary, you change parts of yourself to protect that secret.

Sometimes, the secret becomes bigger than you are.  Involving multiple people, it becomes a delicate balancing act.  Who knows what, who is going to slip up, and what repercussions will it have?

You start to forget who you really are, because all that matters is protecting the secret.  And when  alone, you get angry at yourself, because the secret becomes more important than being true to yourself.

What secret, you may ask, could I have that is so damning?  What is this secret that eats at the very soul of my family?   What thing makes us stammer, and aloof, whispering in the shadows with co-conspirators?

Occasionally we find others with the same damning secret.  They become our allies against the world.

My secret lies buried in this sentence...My children are incredibly gifted athletes.  Does that make you cringe and look at me like I am alien? Are you interested enough to wonder which sports they are best at?  Did you relax when you found out this was all I was hiding?  Okay, then let us take away the hidden code and examine the naked truth.....My children are incredibly gifted.  There, I said it.

Your whole perspective has changed, hasn't it?  I am now repulsive, with a large ego.  How dare I think my kids are better than yours.  How dare I look down my elite nose at you.  Funny how leaving out 1 little word changed everything.

I do not homeschool because of religious beliefs.  I do not homeschool because I am afraid of what my kids will pick up from school.  I do not homeschool because I want to control my children and brainwash them.  I do not homeschool because my children have disabilities that make learning challenging. I do not homeschool because I am afraid of school violence.  I do not homeschool because I want to sleep in.  I do not homeschool because we are wealthy. I do not homeschool because I am lazy.

I homeschool because my children forced me into it.  I homeschool because schools cannot handle their abilities.  I homeschool because I had no choice in the matter.  And as I homeschool, I hang on for dear life, bewildered, as my children drag me along.

If my children went from high school to professional sports, you would probably support them and even hope for some comped tickets.  Perhaps you would seek out their progress in the sports pages and the TV news.  Maybe you would let it slip to your friends and co-workers that you know them.  After all, some kids just have the gift and they should go for it.

Some kids go from elementary school, pause briefly in high school and then are off to college.  But you say they are pushed by parents or are freaks. They are rich and have unfair resources available to them, unreachable by the regular blue-collar worker and his family.  Never could it be that their gift is just as creator-given as the professional athletes'. 

I have stories to back anecdotally what I say.  Test scores and awards given by impartial third parties for tests, taken years before they are supposed to be taken, litter my files.  One child won a scholarship that pays for her high school expenses and most likely her college and graduate school tuition, earned years before she reached high school age.  The other is beginning to display skills that are just as incredible but uniquely her own.

"Bragging!" you say.  "A swelled head!" you proclaim.  "Elitism!" you shout.  "Knock her back to her station in life!" you insist. Do you look at me in disgust?  Are you talking about me behind my back?  Are you challenging me and my "exaggerated" stories?  Do you direct barbs at me and my children, disguised as what you think are clever questions?  Why?

There is pain in my heart as I watch my children come home, exhausted from hiding.  Age and experience allow me to cope better, but I too come home exhausted from never being able to honestly speak.  Tired from watching every word, every slip of the tongue, every reference, for fear that someone will take me as a braggart or treat me as an untouchable.  I can never admit all that I really know.  Never sharing the excitement of what my kid did today, like every other parent.  Never posting their accomplishments or their witticisms on Facebook.  Allies are few.  We can only uncloak in front of a small group of people.  It is the only time I can slip out of the shadows and the walls around me.

But I have finally done the unthinkable.  I have come out of the closet and I am only telling the truth.  Can you handle it?

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