Voices of 2e Profile: Jen Merrill, Blogger and Author

July, 2018

“People learn through stories, and understanding is the first step to acceptance. I want to tell stories that show, not tell, what parenting this population [the twice-exceptional] is like. These kids are so much more than whatever the stereotype of the moment is. They’re not “hot-housed geniuses”; they’re not “smart-aleck troublemakers”; they’re kids who are wired in a way the general population isn’t accustomed to.”

This is the way Jen Merrill describes her role as the voice behind Laughing at Chaos, the blog she started in 2006. “It started off as a mommy blog (I’m not a fan of that term, but that’s what it was.) and I gradually added gifted advocacy and outreach as time went on. Now that our sons are teens and request more privacy and anonymity, I’ve been writing less about them and a lot more about general giftedness, as well as gifted parent self-care.”

Having been told that she has a very distinctive voice, Merrill decided to apply it to recording “all the commentary I’ve always had running through my head” in a blog. “And, because it’s considerably more entertaining if the irritating is made absurd,” she believes, “I tweak everything to make it so. Otherwise, I’m just complaining, and nobody wants to hear that, especially not me. It’s bad enough to hear it inside my head; in print it’s just misery.”

Merrill’s writing is aimed at parents of gifted and 2e kids. With regard to the latter group of parents, she explains that she wants to help them see “how amazing their kids are and that it will eventually get somewhat easier — not easy, because it will never be easy — but easier because their children will grow and mature and the parents will have better and stronger skills. These kids are complex, and parenting them is a marathon.”

When asked what her plan was when she started the blog, Merrill replies, “I did it just because. Blogging was a new thing, and it sounded fun. Much like my sons, it just took off and I try to keep up as best I can.”

As it turns out, blogging has led to speaking at conferences and to writing articles and books. In describing her first book, If This Is A Gift, Can I Send It Back? (GHF Press, 2012), Merrill says, “It’s a light-hearted romp through the French countryside...no, wait...it’s an entertaining and painfully honest account about parenting twice-exceptional kids.”

According to feedback she’s received about the book, Merrill says that “parents have laughed and cried while reading it, and therapists and counselors have recommended it to their clients because it captures so much of the realities of it all.” She adds, “It’s humbling to hear all this.” A second book is in the works on what she describes as “self-care and the unusual needs of the parents who raise these amazing kids.”

When asked what drew her to become a voice for the 2e community, Merrill replies:

I wasn’t so much drawn to the 2e community as lassoed and brought in on the back of runaway stagecoach. I had a passing familiarity with giftedness, thanks to my teaching degree and having been in gifted programs myself, but hadn’t heard of twice-exceptionalities until the Gifted Development Center in Denver suggested that’s what we were dealing with when we had our son tested. Since that time those many years ago, I’ve embraced the 2e community and have been bear-hugged back. I’ve found it to be a supportive, though absolutely exhausted, community of parents and advocates, shouting into the wind for these amazing kids. I still don’t see myself as a voice for 2e (thanks, Impostor Syndrome!), so I have a lot of work ahead of me to live up to that.  

To read Jen Merrill's blog, Laughing at Chaos, visit www.Laughing at Chaos.com. For information on her book, see https://goo.gl/F21Ptb.

I see you

By Jen Merrill, Laughing at Chaos, November 13, 2017

Mislabeled.
Misdiagnosed.
Misunderstood.

Missed.

Unidentified.
Invisible.
Hidden in plain sight.

Twice-exceptional.

I see you.
I see you in the classroom, rarely living up to your “potential.”
I see you wanting to succeed, but struggling against your own self.
I see you out there in the world, working so hard only to appear average-to-middling.

I believe you.

I believe you exist. Why do you think I have so many unicorns? Unicorns are powerfully magical creatures, but few believe they exist, much like twice-exceptional kids.
I believe you are working as hard as you are able, despite what others may think or say.
I believe you will change the world, because you will have found alternate ways of succeeding, the ways that work best for you,
and we will all benefit.

I promise you.

I promise you that I will continue to fight for your right to live outside the box, for that is where you thrive.
I promise you that I will keep writing about your struggles and your successes and your general awesomeness.
I promise you that I will be your advocate, your voice, your friend.

Because I see you. 

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