Sometimes, it feels like I’m trapped inside a B-Grade Hollywood movie. The director is at the side is yelling, “More drama! We need a rewrite here! There’s not enough punch to this story.“
The punches keep rolling in, and I feel a little bit like a punch-drunk ninja. My children went from crazy accelerated to crazy-crazy accelerated. (How my eldest managed to skip me noticing that he had learned about 2-3 years worth of maths during our ‘down’ time was the one punch. The two punch was adding yet another acronym to the growing list of family illnesses / chronic conditions / neurological differences / genetic variations / eh, I’m giving up, why don’t we call ’em Steves?)
But I did learn something from this crazy week. I learned that I and my family are really good at rolling with those punches. There might be a manic moment when I channel Jack Nicholson’s mirror-smashing laugh in Batman. But after the hilarity, there’s usually the realisation that confronting unusual and obscure (even unthinkable) conundrums is something that I’ve become very good at doing.
Odds of this happening are one in five thousand? I’ll raise you a one in ten thousand! And, being me, there’s also a little Han Solo voice in the back of my brain yelling out, ‘Never tell me the odds!‘
One thing I have learned? Preparing and dealing with the unexpected is pretty similar, whether we’re talking medical-crazy, or education-crazy.
Preparing for the Unexpected – Things That Help
Here’s my (not entirely random and hopefully quite useful) list of what can help:
Know what you’re facing.
This will involve lots of reading, and probably either trawling through obscure medical journals, or memorizing laws and statutes, but that’s what you do. Knowledge really is power, and if you’re able to soothe scared administrators that what they are contemplating is perfectly legal and backed up by solid scientific evidence (say, research on acceleration / early college entrance), then that’s an advantage.
Find a good source for advice.
This could include a charity or support organisation, or a friendly professor. This may take time, and more than a cursory internet search – sometimes the biggest and best advertised things are not the best option.
Don’t discount cold-calling.
Sometimes it really pays to go right to the top and just ask, whether it’s an expert on obscure medical conditions, or the head of a faculty. As long as you’re polite, they’ll usually be extremely friendly and informative. (And if you’re dealing with early-entrance to university maths, this is actually a fairly familiar scenario for pretty much every maths department I have known and being a maths graduate with lots of maths graduate friends, I have at least some experience in this area).
Prepare for conundrums.
Most people and organisations will know nothing about what you, your kids and your family are facing. Come prepared with information on why this particular path is the right one, as well as quick and preferably snappy explanations of why your situation is different – printed brochures can work miracles.
Keep looking for other options.
For example, my son is unlikely to be ready to sit in a lecture theatre for hours yet. But he’s already needing access to university-level material in some subjects. So we’re finding alternatives – at the moment it’s MOOC lectures, but eventually there will be other options added to the list.
Be Prepared for it all to Change
And lastly, be prepared for it all to change. For me? There is no plan. And that is personally terrifying at times. There is only hope and hanging on for dear life. What works today might not work tomorrow, and if I think I have a bit of time to prepare for the future events, I also know fate has a twisted sense of humour and she likes the Hollywood one-two punch.