The Girl joined children’s theatre when she was about 8 years old. She was so scared during the audition that she opted out of singing, and as soon as she jumped in the car, she had serious regrets. We reached out to the director, and explained how upset she was … and she let her audition over the phone.

Her grace is a gift we will never forget. That phone audition landed The Girl her first lead role in musical theatre, and it forever changed her life.

The Girl fell in love with music, and uses it as a way to process her many, many thoughts at the end of a long day. Our nightly private concert from her shower is something I’ll miss most when she leaves for college next year.

For those of you who don’t know, The Girl is a gifted learner. That can mean so many different things, and it has a stigma attached so I always hesitate to even share that detail about her. Most people hear those things and think either:

  1. Every child has a gift of some kind
  2. Every parent thinks their kid is gifted

Every child does have gifts, but every child is not a gifted learner. Gifted learners brains are atypical. They do not process information in the same way that others process information. While I am all for wearing mommy goggles when it comes to my kids, The Girl was identified by the school with a nationally accepted test in Kindie (it’s called the COGAT test if you want to get super nerdy and check it out) – not because of what she knew, but because of several factors including how she processes, the rate in which she processes, her cognitive abilities, conceptualization, problem solving and more.

Now if you think I’m bragging, let me just stop you right there, friends. Some may think this means her childhood was somehow easier and I got a parenting pass of some kind. WRONG. I wish. When you think about the learning spectrum, it’s actually more of a circle vs. a line – gifted learners are neurodivergents. This means a standard classroom has a hard time meeting their needs, and socially it can be a real struggle. Gifted learners are more similar to students with ADHD, Autism, etc. vs. neurotypical students (which is what most teachers teach to, because they make up the majority of the class).  Neurodivergents and Gifted Learners have a hard time finding peers they connect with for so many reasons. The Girl is quirky. She overthinks, single-task obsesses, and often comes across as over-bearing or controlling.

She is also kind, thoughtful, has an old soul, and wise beyond her years.

In reality, her obsession is just her way of showing she cares. When she stops obsessing, you’ve likely lost her to someone, or something, that sees her worth.

Without arts, The Girl, with all of her potential and ability, would have been lost.

She would have had no outlet. She would have no peers in the classroom, because if I’m being completely honest, even after skipping a grade and entering high school a year early, her classes are not challenging. The stage challenges her, and it has been building her confidence for almost a decade in ways that a mom just cannot build a child.

There’s so much value in someone else recognizing her talents, gifts and insecurities.

With COVID, many art programs were cut completely or reduced to asynchronous learning only.

Our kids need you now more than ever.

Please take five minutes right now, and commit to giving your time, talents, and financial resources to an arts program. If you don’t have one to give to in your area, I’d love to have you give to ours – just leave me a comment and I’ll figure out how to put to use whatever you have to give. These students need a whole team of champions who will ask for employer donations, pray for their performances, and simply show up. Local or non-local … you have ways you can give.

I was never in theatre, but last year I committed to giving my time to The Girl’s theatre program as a volunteer. The way I figure it, I can never repay them for the gifts they have given us over the last few years. After The Girl graduates, I hope they continue to keep me around, because I have to tell you as much as the arts saved The Girl, they have saved me too. 

But, I’ll save that story for another day.