As I was walking my dog last night, I got cornered by yet another well intentioned neighbor asking about the plans for school in the fall. I’d been asked multiple times already yesterday and every day before (on almost every single potty break) because you see, when you live in a condo/townhome community and all of you have been cooped up for over 100 days, people begin to get curious about you and start asking questions. And when you have a dog or a baby, it seems people ask even more questions. If you are lucky enough to dodge one, you’ll run into another who will ask the same questions and more.

I understand, really. People feel disconnected. Many are still not back to work in any normal form, and some are either furloughed or laid off and looking for work. Others haven’t seen friends or family in a while, and most haven’t been anywhere that wasn’t absolutely necessary since all of this began. They want to feel connected to someone, something, and feel like they know *something* because there is so much we don’t know.

I hate having to shrug my shoulders and tell them I don’t know for sure what’s happening in the fall. I share what I do know, what little of it there is, and possible scenarios of what it might look like, while at the same time holding my tongue as they berate teachers for not “being willing” to do more for the good of the kids. Some understood that it’s scary for everyone, the idea of 25+ kids in a classroom who are incapable of keeping their hands off of their faces much less keeping their hands off their friends. Questions about recess, lunch, after school sports and activities. As though I should have the down low on any of it.

I thought to myself last night as I listened to the news that, frankly, I’m just tired of it all. (I’ve done well minimizing my news consumption over the last few weeks but it’s seemed to hit harder this past week as we hit the 100 day mark.) I’m tired of being disconnected from the people I care about, getting to see so few of them in real life on a routine basis, the constant stream of numbers indicating how many more have been diagnosed or have died, the seemingly endless arguments on social media over masks, political beliefs, the perceived lies vs perceived truths, future plans, everything everyone else is doing wrong.

If this is how I, a forty-something woman, feels on a daily basis, I wonder how this is impacting the kids we serve. They have even less control over things than I do, though I suppose they text and snapchat with their friends more than I do. Many of their parents are differently employed than they were in the past, and the money stressors are sure to be high because of it. I worry for them and their families. Parents often work hard to hide their worries and struggles, while others are far too open with what’s going on–and in both cases the kids feel like it’s their fault somehow.

It’s easy for gifted kids to internalize the feelings, worries, and concerns of others. It’s as though they’re hardwired for it. Many are empaths on some level, and that makes it even more complicated. Kids, particularly younger ones because they are often more sensitive, aren’t sure how to handle and work through their own feelings yet, much less take on the feelings of their friends and family. So some choose to disconnect even more, creating a bit more space between themselves and others to protect themselves.

I can’t say it’s a whole lot different for gifted adults.

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