Six months ago, I dreamt I lived in a vast black basement and never slept.
My singular duty was to stoke an enormous and intensely hot furnace. I heaved mound after mound of dusty coal into the roaring inferno. My back ached. My mouth burned with thirst. Yet, I shoveled on.
At intervals, I rested. The sudden stillness dizzied me, as if I were falling asleep. Heat and light jarred me back to alertness.
I pondered the purpose of the inferno. Does it fuel a city? Power a massive factory? Or is this subterranean monster an entity of its own?
I waved away the thought. Work resumed in minutes. I needed a few moments of mindless relief.
I shoveled. Unequivocally ravenous and implacable, the fire vaporized fuel as quickly as I could provide it. I increased my pace. The walls of coal began creeping closer. I shoveled frantically to avoid being pushed into the flames.
I could not maintain this furious pace.
Should I make peace with my doom or continue to shovel?
I woke up.
The First Interpretation
The struggle of fueling a voracious furnace resembles raising a twice exceptional child.
Forever vigilant, I juggle interventions for anxious, tourettic behavior. Today I dab balm on eyelids chapped from compulsive rubbing. Tomorrow I hide tomatoes and bananas under dishtowels. Our home is a stage constantly reset to remove temptations. Everything is just so, to reduce spills, plumber bills and frustration.
Liev ’s intelligence generates another kind of perpetual effort. Keeping pace with profound giftedness demands more than hiding scissors or stowing away hand soap. Intellectual thirst requires mental fleetness, abundant creativity and cognitive endurance. Without stimulation, a gifted brain agonizes. Boredom triggers unendurable tension and restlessness.
I strive to support our son. Should my attentiveness wane, I fear I will be engulfed. Meltdowns, intense emotions, and wild behavior disorient me. I fear I will fail him.
I secured these thoughts in a notebook. My legacy to Liev will not be an interminable online ode on how hard it is to raise him.
A week ago, I revisited my notebook. As I re-read my words, I realized the inferno dream was less about raising a twice exceptional child and more about my own struggle with twice exceptionality.
Long before Liev entered our world, I shoveled. I fed the fires of schools, university degrees, jobs and interpersonal relationships. I put forth enormous effort to maintain impossible standards. At times, the furnace snuffled me in; blackening me into deep depressive spells.
No six year old holds me captive in a basement. I’ve always been here. And now I have company.
My dear, sweet, bright little boy grips a shovel in his hand. His furnace roars. I hope to teach him the finest shoveling techniques. I hope to teach him to enjoy the radiance of his gifts without being gobbled up by his differences. Above all, I hope to teach him how to brush away the ashes and begin anew.