Four Ferrets

The ferret who originally called Craig over to the WOW Girl cage. Intelligent, communicative, and profoundly deaf.

The ferret who originally called Craig over to the WOW Girl cage. Intelligent, communicative, and profoundly deaf.

Kevin and I decided to get two ferrets. TWO. One can get lonely, and we figured that we might add a third one in the future to stagger them out so there is always at least two. Good plan, right? 

So Kevin, Craig, and I set out to the Washington Ferret Shelter in Kirkland. 
 
When we went to the ferret shelter, it was first asked if we would be interested in fostering ferrets. The shelter then pays for all medical (vet, medicine) expenses, but otherwise the fosters keep the ferrets for life. It’s a fantastic program! We considered this but decided to stick with the original plan of getting TWO young-ish, healthy ferrets to start out.

 

Okay, young and healthy, but how about three?  We agreed to spend time in a ferret playpen with a trio, enjoying these very nice ferrets.  But they were not “our” ferrets. Didn’t feel that connection. Disappointed but accommodating, the match-maker swapped these out for a pair of ferrets. This matched our original plan for TWO, but it was the same thing: nice, enjoyed them, but no connection.

I kept glancing over to where Craig had been interacting with a ferret in a cage across the room. I mentioned to him that I wanted him to see a deaf ferret while we were there. They can have certain unique characteristics, and I connected with one the first time I visited the shelter. I had even acquired toys that deaf ferrets might enjoy – just in case. Turns out that the one he was interacting with was deaf. He asked a volunteer who came in, “Are they available?” She said several things, including that this was a group of four bonded ferrets. He let her finish talking and then simply repeated his question, “Are they available?”  She said yes, so he and I asked that they be brought out in a play pen too.

 

Into a playpen went the quad of tiny female ferrets called the WOW Girls. I watched as Craig interacted with them, and I decided to go over to check them out before Kevin and I asked for the next pair of ferrets. Meanwhile Kevin was focusing on playing with the current pair of ferrets, having some fun, but still no strong connection.

I invited each one of the small ferrets to me, one at a time. Each time, soon after making eye contact, a little ferret would eagerly come over and want to be picked up. All were affectionate and interactive, each with a unique personality radiating out, and each providing that connection.

But there were four of them. Ferrets bond, and they grieve at loss, so these four have to stay together. Four was not part of the plan of TWO ferrets.

Still, it was fun having time with them, and Craig and I called Kevin over to see if he enjoyed them as well.  We swapped; Kevin went over to the WOW Girls, and Craig and I switched over the pair of very nice, but not “our”, ferrets. Watching Kevin, the same thing happened. Each one was connecting with him, showering him with affection, offering play, and at one point Kevin’s face was a combination of joy and “melting” followed by him saying something like, “Uh oh. Oh dear. There are four. Four.”

And they were all wonderful.

That’s when Craig and I let Kevin know that we also fell for the WOW Girls. Kevin reasoned that these ferrets were so tiny that they were the same weight as two ferrets… Laughing, I then reminded him that when he was building the “ferret mansion” the night before, he noted that it was big enough for the ultimate plan of three, and that even four would work, so maybe he just tempted the Universe too much.

So the plan has changed” Kevin said, more statement than question. “Yes,” I agreed. Craig was smiling and talking with that original ferret that called him over, seemingly unsurprised by this change of plans.

 

~*~
Pictures:
The ferret who originally called Craig over to the WOW Girl cage. Intelligent, communicative, and profoundly deaf.

The ferret who originally called Craig over to the WOW Girl cage. Intelligent, communicative, and profoundly deaf.

20151010_144433

Zaps and Maddie, two nice ferrets waiting to be adopted.

Water Play Time

Water Play Time

 

Craig with ferret in a (human) hammock.

Craig with ferret in a (human) hammock.

"The WOW Girls"

“The WOW Girls”

Kisses for Kevin

Kisses for Kevin

Kevin melting

Kevin melting

Gaslighting

Gaslighting article image use only for thisHave you experienced this before?

Shea Emma Fett explains that gaslighting is “when someone tries to tell you who you are, what you feel, what you think, what you intended, or what you experienced.”

A person doing this might also “rewrite” you to others, spreading this rewritten version of you. “It is hard to stand firm when one person is trying to replace your experience, but when they have a chorus of supporters, it is nearly impossible.”

Gaslighting does not require deliberate plotting. Gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality. The rest just happens organically when a person who holds that belief feels threatened.”

“The end game is not confrontation, it’s non-engagement.”

Read full article by Shea Emma Fett

 

 

Gifted, Arrogance, & Trybe

FREAKFLAGLBG14-ConW-03Listening to the conversations in the room, one in particular caught my attention. “He plopped down and proudly announced, ‘I’m gifted!’” one woman said.

“Wow, arrogant much?” another woman responded.

Curious, I asked for the context. It was a mingling activity at a school event the first woman was attending for her grandson. She felt put-off that her grandson’s classmate would include his giftedness as part of his introduction.

“Oh,” I nodded. “But… what if he had said he was a star football player?” Well, he has to earn that, the women collectively explained to me. “Okay, so what if he was part of a tribe?” That’s different, they explained, because then it’s about the tribe instead of the individual.

Trybe. This is a term I often hear among my circles, and yes – even spelled in that funny way. “Find your freaks” is also a common phrase – the need to be among others who encourage you to reach for who you are as an individual while also giving you a sense of belonging.

Claiming accomplishments or being part of a group is an accepted desire for most, but not for those identified as gifted. That is considered a display of arrogance to be squashed. Parents have even been advised by schools to not tell their children that they are gifted. Instead, a student gets to wonder why he or she is so different, and even to feel shamed by it. And since many believe that gifted students don’t need help, we get report card comments of not meeting potential with assumptions that laziness or disdain for authority is the reason.

So what about that disdain for authority? That arrogance or elitism that gifted individuals are stereotyped as having? Is there any truth to that?

Maybe. Consider this: elitism is a common self-defense response against years of being “other.” Imagine fighting against naysayers for everything important to you, or a childhood full of not just kids, but also adults in positions of authority, who feel the need to take you down a notch. Down as low as one can be held. Depression. Loneliness. Apathy. The intensities of being gifted amplify this.

However, what happens when a gifted student’s needs are met? When we encourage a sense of belonging among others, perhaps with their own freak flags flying? What happens when we provide compassion and guidance instead being yet another source of adversity?

Carl Jung taught, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” This applies to all of us.

I want to hear from you. What do we need to do differently to better serve gifted students? How about gifted adults; what are the struggles in life and the workplace that need to be addressed? Send me a message and let me know your thoughts.

 

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Is Everybody Gifted?

big_eyes_science“She sure seems angry,” I heard somebody say behind me. The presenter was passionate about her topic. She and another were taking turns explaining how “all students are a gift, but not all students are gifted,” and to say otherwise could undermine gifted education.

Some people in the audience squirmed. Others nodded their heads in enthusiastic agreement.

The problem is the word “gifted.” It’s a very common word; can any one group own it exclusively?

One viewpoint is that all of us are gifted, and we all have special needs. Those gifts and needs are usually connected. Here gifted is being defined as a talent or an innate personality trait, but it could also be something developed with effort.

This isn’t the type of gifted the presenters were talking about.

Instead, they are advocating for a specific category of students who are most known for having high IQs, but who are really set apart by what many call intensities or overexcitabilities. It’s due to these intensities that students need special education accommodations. Did you know that “gifted education” is a category of special education? Many don’t because they mistakenly believe that gifted students don’t need help – that they are smart enough to figure out things on their own.

Sharon Lind’s article Overexcitability and the Gifted does an excellent job of describing each of the 5 identified domains and providing strategies for each one:

  • Psychomotor
  • Sensual/Perceptual
  • Intellectual
  • Imagination
  • Emotional

Not only are these important to understand for education, they come into play in building healthy lives at home and work. Gifted individuals will typically relate to a couple of these, but a person can even have traits in all five.

I’m curious to know: do any of the overexcitabilities sound like something you or a loved one can relate to? I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences with this topic.

 

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Dyslexia – Resources

reading girl with squirrelI am often asked about resources or strategies for dyslexia when people learn that my oldest daughter is dyslexic. Dyslexia presents itself in many ways, and the goal is to find what works for each individual child. This is usually a combination of three things:

  1. Gathering strategies and resources for dealing with the challenges of dyslexia.
  1. Recognizing the strengths that can often come with dyslexia (one possibility is being artistically talented in specific ways). This is important for a sense of self-worth, and also because strengths can often be harnessed in bridging gaps toward higher learner.
  1. Developing the ability to create and make meaning from text. This is not usually going to happen with more – and yet even more – phonics, but instead some phonics combined with other holistic approaches matching the student’s strengths and ideal learning modes.

With the above in mind, here is a short list of resources providing a general overview of what dyslexia is, along with some common ideas and approaches. From this foundation, a more personalized approach can then be developed with the student.

Professor Johnson’s Articles and Videos. Andrew Johnson is a professor of literacy at Minnesota State University, and he does a great job of breaking down concepts to make understanding dyslexia easier. Here are two articles, each with a list of videos at the end, to get you started:

HBO – The Big Picture Rethinking Dyslexia – This can be found in public libraries, and a search on Google or YouTube might yield results for online versions. The HBO page also has a list of recommended resources.

The Gift of Dyslexia  – short video of Professor John Stein discussing the talents that can be associated with dyslexia.

Tests for Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities – The University of Michigan has provided a list of assessments, and they annotated the list to provide a description of each one.

 

If you want to take it to the next level in learning about the potential gifts of dyslexia, a popular book is aptly titled The Gift of Dyslexia and likely available through most public libraries.

What are some resources you recommend for parents and/or teachers who want to learn more about dyslexia in order to help students? Also, do you know of any good dyslexia workshops or conferences out there? Please message me if so!

 

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