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Another Christmas tradition: deciding about next year’s placement

A.L.L.*

Each year about this time, I get a letter from the school district asking if I plan to continue having my child(ren) in the Gifted/Talented (*”Accelerated Learning Labs”) program at their school. It didn’t used to be a hard decision.

But as our family grew, so did the challenge of supporting each one in their varying commitments. Added homework or commitment for a child means added commitment for a mother. I had to weigh the whole picture out to see if I can mentally, emotionally, and physically handle it.

I know that if I overload myself, then I make it hard for myself to be a pleasant mother. When I or other family members are stretched too thin, it is so easy to be quick to anger. There are sacrifices that have to be made. It can sap the enjoyment out of family life.

And so I have been wrestling with the choice.

The Pros: I love the teachers in the G/T programs. I love how they challenge the children. The children are completely up to the challenge. They have learned that they can do hard things. We think that Sarah is better able to face the challenge of her studies today because of the challenges she had in elementary school. (Junior high was NOT challenging, and many of her high school classes were not even as rigorous as her fifth and sixth grade classes.) It’s always a blessing to learn that you can do something hard.

The Cons: Sometimes there is too much to do. Sometimes the children buckle under their failure to follow through on assignments, and I do not support them sufficiently. I don’t like it when my children don’t keep their commitments. Then we both suffer from the guilt and other consequences that naturally come with not keeping commitments. We sometimes blame each other, get angry, and have melt-downs.

I learned from experience that we all have limits, and that you have to plan for being human. Sometimes we procrastinate. Sometimes we waste our time. Sometimes we have other family commitments that supersede attending to homework. It makes keeping those school commitments hard.

I have learned in particular that I have limits, and that if I overdo it, there can be some unpleasant physical/mental/emotional/spiritual consequences that can result. It is NOT worth it.

And so I am cautious.

Do we gear up for another year of challenge? Am I up to it? Are they? Will it be worth the struggle? Or will it be so much worry that I cannot sleep at night? Can I let go of the worry and let my children accept full responsibility for his or her work habits? Will I be keeping my signed commitment to the program if I do that?

I still don’t have an answer yet, even though I’ve been thinking about it, praying about it, and discussing it with Lane all weekend, including from 5:19 am until 6:30 am this morning. I’ll see what we decide….

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