A few months shy of three years ago, without a thought to the future or a plan in my head, I guilelessly created my blog, Crushing Tall Poppies. If I knew then what I know now (that infamous hindsight cliché, right?), I would have done some things quite differently. I often wonder how did this all happen in the span of two and three-quarter years. But, since the lowly beginnings of Crushing Tall Poppies, I’ve grown more as a person in those few years learning about giftedness, interacting with the gifted community, and writing and advocating for gifted children than in most of my adult life. I guess it all turned out okay.
But, how did I get from point A to point B? Would you like to know what I would have done differently if I had the chance to start all over? What about the wisdom I’ve gained on this unbelievable writing and advocacy journey? I may have a few answers to those questions and maybe some not-tabloid-worthy bits to share. I’ll go ahead and spill the beans on some things about me and Crushing Tall Poppies.
Here are 10 things you never knew about Crushing Tall Poppies–
WHAT WAS I THINKING CHOOSING THAT NAME?
I ask myself that question a lot too! I wish I would have chosen the name more thoughtfully back then, but I had no way of knowing what the future held for Crushing Tall Poppies. I would have definitely chosen something more positive to reflect who I am and what I am trying to accomplish through my writing and advocacy. But, the backstory explains the name choice and a few other things, also.
Anger—the catalyst for my blog. In his last year of public school before homeschooling, my youngest gifted son had been bullied by a teacher—she didn’t like when he corrected her mistakes and he didn’t like when she laughed and called him Mr. Zero in front of his classmates. At the same time there was another teacher who felt because my son was gifted, he should also be a high-achieving, conscientious student—one who makes good grades, is polite and well-behaved. Her treatment of him reflected her assumption that he was simply lazy, smug and uncaring. Yes, I was angry, I was outraged, and I was heartbroken, so I created the Crushing Tall Poppies blog to channel my anger into something, anything, that was more positive than the anguish I felt. At the time, crushed was how my family and I felt.
SO, I STARTED THIS BLOG
With this strange, new blogging thingie created and public, I wrote about my feelings on gifted children and how they are miseducated and mistreated by those who do not understand them. Although my blog was public, I was my only reader because I never told anyone, not even my husband, about my blog. It was my own personal therapy to repurpose my despair for what had happened to my son in school, and for what seemed to also happen to far too many gifted children. The suffering and the struggles of gifted children at the hands of people who didn’t understand giftedness was my muse, and I griped and complained to my one and only reader about these injustices. It pays to get things off your chest and my blog therapy was working. I no longer had the urge to throw eggs at those two teachers or slash their tires in the middle of the night (just to be clear, I would have never done that, but did enjoy envisioning it). Surprisingly, I discovered I liked writing, too. All seemed to be getting better in my world. I’ll add a deep, calming sigh at this point in the story.
BUT, IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE TRULY PUBLIC
Yeah, I know, it was technically public from the beginning, which gave me some satisfaction knowing my thoughts on the injustices gifted children faced was out there for anyone to see, but the truth was, I really didn’t want anyone else to read it. In the beginning, I was even using a fake name–Poppy! Honestly, I was just too damn scared for anyone to read what I was writing or to know who was writing this. Everyday that I signed into my blog, I was grateful to see my one and only follower—moi. I felt safe from being ripped to shreds, castigated for my opinions, or criticized for my beliefs about the struggles gifted children experience. Yup, I continued to have no worries there—until the day I was no longer my only reader.
My secret ruse was dually busted in just one day. I signed in as usual only to see I had received a comment on one of my posts, AND another blogger had linked to a post I had written. At that moment, I froze and the only thought in my head was to sign out and never return to my secret blog ever again. Of course, my curiosity to learn more about my other readers won out, and I tried to accept that the secret was out of the bag.
The comment I had received on one of my ranting posts was a simple, “Roar on, Mama!” from a mom of a gifted child. She had her own blog, The Gift of Home–Adventures in Homeschooling, and was writing about her gifted child. This wonderful mother’s comment was the validation I needed to see I was not completely off my rocker, and it spurred me forward. I might add that this wonderful mother and I are now friends and are part of the same gifted circles.
Gathering my courage with a long, deep breath, I went next to find out who in the world would ever want to link to something I wrote. Do you know the incomparable, fabulous and funny Jen over at Laughing at Chaos? She was the one who really outed me. She linked one of my posts into one of her posts (see it here). And that’s when it all hit the fan.
Oh crap. One comment meant one extra reader, but the link meant many more! I had no clue what should happen next—my security and anonymity was blown. The first thing I figured I had better do is tell my husband that for the last three months, I had been writing a secret blog—well, it had been a secret until that infamous day.
So, ready or not, there was no turning back. And I am not ashamed to say on that day, I was freaking out, feeling like I was out in public with my thread-bare pajamas on and no make-up. I had gotten used to that false sense of obscurity knowing that I was my only human reader alongside a few spam bots. It’s been almost three years now. With thousands of comments and hundreds of thousands of views on my blog—I guess I’m okay with it all having gone public.
YES, I AM TRULY PASSIONATE ABOUT BETTERING THE LIVES OF GIFTED CHILDREN
And idealistic, and optimistic, and probably naive—I guess it all works for me. Yes, I am trying to move a mountain even though many have told me to give up since nothing will ever change for gifted children. I don’t believe that and I won’t quit any time soon because I honestly could not live with myself if I didn’t try to change the way schools and society view giftedness. When I see so many gifted children misunderstood, their education neglected, and their parents brushed off as being that parent, I am moved to try to make a difference. I am on a mission because I sincerely believe that no child should have to suffer simply because he was born gifted. That’s my quote and my philosophy!
I’M ON A MISSION
A volunteer mission. This is a full-time, self-imposed, and mostly unpaid position. Yes, I do have an Amazon affiliates link on my website and for full disclosure, I’ve made a grand total of $10.35 to date. I’m not complaining. I knew this gig was voluntary. BUT, if you are so inclined, you could help me promote my book—I’d love to sell more!
But, as long as it is financially feasible, I will continue my mission. I won’t stop trying to move that mountain—unless I need to get a real paying job.
NO, I AM NOT ANTI-PUBLIC SCHOOL OR ANTI-CLASSROOM TEACHER
I have no unwavering loyalty to any one educational setting, be it public school, private school or homeschool. I don’t support only homeschooling, or just public schools. I only support whatever educational choice works best for each individual child and his or her family. Although I homeschool, my children have gone to public schools and private schools. I’ve seen great schools, good schools and bad schools. And the same can be said for homeschooling—I’ve seen where it has been an exceptional education and where it wasn’t so great.
And like anything else in this world, nothing is all good and all bad, and that goes for teachers, too. I call out teachers when they don’t understand the needs and traits of our gifted children. I’ve seen gifted specialists who don’t understand gifted students and regular education teachers who did get gifted. Yet, having been a public school teacher, I have a teacher’s heart—I can’t drive by an elementary school without feeling the tug to be back in the classroom. But, I know not every teacher is wonderful, and no educational option is perfect either.
I’M NOT BRAGGING
Recently, there was a comment thread on a gifted website discussing a post I had written about envy and gifted children. Shockingly (said with sarcasm), I was proclaimed to be a classic narcissist, and someone actually diagnosed me and my family as needing mental help and I had better get my family in for professional therapy, pronto. They asserted that my post was really just a cryptic form of a humblebrag. The humble part is probably right because I really am humble. And I am respectful, considerate, and often a too-kind-for-my-own-good sort of person. But how else can you write about gifted children without giving real examples of the very traits and behaviors which make them gifted? Gah! It’s not bragging, it’s who these gifted children are!
So hey, if I heard you talking about your child’s typical, age-related behaviors, I could be envious of that right there, and from my perspective, you could be seen as bragging. Average, typical, fitting in, not being an outlier—it all sounds good to me. It’s all a matter of perspective, and your perspective is completely misguided if you think I am bragging about having a gifted child.
THE PEN REALLY IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD
Or in my case, I can be fierce with my written words, but face to face, I am not quite that emboldened. Enough said.
I’D BE NOWHERE WITHOUTH GIFTED HOMESCHOOLERS FORUM
Once my blog had been read by a few hundred people, I became a Gifted Homeschoolers Forum blogger. My life changed forever for the better! Gifted Homeschoolers Forum has the most dedicated, compassionate and thoughtful people I have ever known—and they are quite brilliant, too. They are like family to me. Truly, I’d be nowhere without them. I mean heck, they took a leap of faith and trusted me to write a book, for goodness sakes. Check them out here!
I’VE MADE THE BEST FRIENDS IN THE WORLD THROUGH CRUSHING TALL POPPIES
My blog and my advocacy has led me down many paths in the last two years and seven months, but none so unexpectedly fulfilling as the paths which led me to some of the most exceptional people I’ve ever known. Friends, lifelong friends. Some I’ve met in person, and some who I only know online, but will certainly meet one day, unencumbered no more by a text-only conversation. I may not have moved that mountain just yet, but I have gained some unbelievable friendships! The gifted community rocks!
Crushing Tall Poppies has brought so much to my life and I can only hope that it has brought a little bit to yours. I’ll continue to advocate for our gifted children and keep pushing to move that mountain. I encourage you to not only be your gifted child’s much-needed advocate, but to also do what you can to advocate for all gifted children, especially those who seem to fall through the cracks at school and in life, unseen and misunderstood. Let’s move that mountain together!
Now, you know the whole story.
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