Meeting of minds over MiniMe.

@postaday139; #postaday2011.

The Benderettes on Mariner's Ridge.

Today I learned that I have two gifted children. It’s just that one of them, Charlotte, aka MiniMe, is so diminished by her big sister Sophie’s accomplishments, that she tends to skulk into the shadows. She has low self esteem, is slightly depressed, lonely, and needs to eat better and get more exercise. If my mother were reading this, she’d say: “That’s the way YOU were.”

Truly. Only I didn’t have a team at school consisting of teachers, psychologists, and consultants who thought I was worth worrying about. There was that flock of nuns that chased me with a yardstick. I spent a lot of my grammar school years being punished, beaten with a yardstick or a paddle, stood in the corner and kept for detention, mostly because I spaced out.

Last night I was given the report that we were to go over together at school today. Just before bed I started reading it and I didn’t move for 45 minutes, until I was through. Much of what I read, I agreed with. She often needs to be reminded to stay on task. Her emotions and moods are all over the map. She’s forgetful, she loses things, she doesn’t turn in her homework, she avoids the hard stuff. She’ll lose school books throughout the school year. We find them — in her backpack. Once we dig out the rocks (for fossils and olivine!), the broken bird eggs, the crown flower leaves, the dead butterflies and lizard tails, we sometimes find that which we thought was turned in ages and ages ago. I look at her, she looks at me, and we have this communion of sadness between us. Years ago I was so this kid.


We also find pages and pages and pages of her drawings. All crinkled and scrunched up, mostly kittens and cats, often in the style of anime, some as super heroes, some as super villains, some as dead with bandages and blood and hatchets coming out of their heads. Nice. This was the sort of art that gave her teachers pause. These drawings are very good, but they are haunting. It’s not your typical little girl fare, but IMHO it’s an indication that what we have here is a kid who’s about to turn 10 years old and a mom who wants to just ship her off to PIXAR. NOW.

Kitty Girl, being herself. By Charlotte.

There’s one more meeting. Charlotte needs help with her organizational skills. She’s brilliant, her reading and vocabulary and science levels are beyond excellent, she just turns off her powers when the math gets served up. She’ll try so very hard. Then she goes dark. She shuts down. Her mind wanders, she finds something else to do, she is forever in search of a happy place where there is none of that hard stuff to stretch her brain beyond capacity. Thing is, she could do it.

I had this sort of thing, but even worse. I couldn’t do English grammar to save my life even though I loved to tell stories. I wrote letters that people would keep forever. When we first started dating, John cured me of saying, “I wish I was…” I didn’t understand what he meant by the subjunctive. When I was on staff at Kapio, the student newspaper at Kapiolani Community College, our advisor Winnie Au put several of us in a remedial grammar class. I didn’t master proper English grammar until I was in college. This writing that I do? Someone took the time to help me be what I am, what I’m supposed to be. Mahalo, Winnie, so very much!

Charlotte rides the Schwinn Stingray.

Fortunately for Charlotte, this is happening for her now, just as she’s about to turn 10 next month. We’re finding what’s good in her and targeting that for cultivation and encouragement. We’re finding what needs to be adjusted, tweaked, and redirected so she’ll be successful in school. We’re recruiting her sister and hero, Sophie, for positive reinforcements. I signed the family up for The Oahu Club again so we can go swimming a few times a week after dinner to left off some steam and to sleep better. I’ll meet with her pediatrician to discuss the report.

Many thanks to Jen Kozuma, her teacher, for insisting that something be done for Charlotte before she got thrown into the pit that is middle school where children are let loose on a campus and have to keep track of all sorts of things for all sorts of classes in all sorts of buildings.  We want to be able to throw Charlotte into the deep end with confidence that she’ll be able to swim.

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


  1. That is some amazing art. WOW.

    It sounds like you have one of those fascinating, neat kids who will totally come into their own later, but don’t fit into the school thing very well. Keep loving and helping her and I’ll bet it will all come together for her later – like it did for you! What a great mom you are.

  2. Ah, the trials and tribulations of a right brain dominant child. Barring any financial limitations, I’ve always felt the school system should have 2 programs; one for regular kids; one for right brainers! Right brainers are brilliant and incredibly talented. They’re so beyond the normal minutiae of life. They think on a completely different level than the rest of us! This is also the story of my best friend. It’s not easy being a right brainer but what a gift they are to the world.

  3. My daughter tested out gifted LDA (ADHD), also very right-brained (after years of math tutoring and 2 tries at the SAT, she got her math score up to 15th percentile), and similarly loses things. She got her degree in art, she’s designed and sold jewelry, etc.

    Charlotte will, too. And her parents will survive the process, too!

  4. here’s to the ones who don’t fit the mold. upon them alone rests the burden of the progress of mankind.

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