We know first hand that relationships require work. We live far away from our immediate(WI & IA) and extended family (AR, CA, HI, IN, MN, NY, & WI). DS sees his grandparents when they visit us and when we make our yearly summer trip back to the Midwest. During that trip, we also visit lots of cousins, Aunts, Uncles, and our friends who now have kids the same age as our son. Our son also got to experience his first trip to his great Aunt in Hawaii last year. Some friends and family have also made the trek to visit us. It takes work to coordinate all the visits but it is worth it. He loves his cousins and enjoys the time with our friends children too. Our son sees the work we put in to maintain friendships and we hope it is teaching him a valuable lesson.
We also know that relationships require work because we live in the metropolitan area of the 4th largest city in the US. We live in the most ethnically and religiously diverse county in the US. But, living in this area comes with a price, it is very transient. Many people outside of Houston have no clue how transient the employees of oil industry companies are. We have met great friends, only to have them relocated to another state or another country. Some get transferred back and some get transferred again. In addition, in we’ve had friends move away due to layoffs. And, of course, new friends move in. The transient nature of Houston has meant that every year we have had to say goodbye to friends and welcome new friends. The friends we’ve welcomed over the years are often not from Texas but from other states and other countries. Thus, we bond over the fact there is no extended family and create our own multi-family holiday traditions.
We consider ourselves transplants. When our son was in public school he was one of a handful out of the 29 students in his class who were actually born in the US. Even among our homeschool community, many are not from here and many move away. Last year we lost two sets of close friends. This year our son lost one of our homeschool buddies due to the family moving to Australia and he lost two others moving within the Houston area. We have a couple other friends facing potential moves. This means that we work hard to maintain friendships with those that move away as well as to form new friendships. We’ve made visits to other cities in Texas, driven to Oklahoma, flown to Philadelphia, flown to Boston, and have upcoming trips to New Mexico and Connecticut so I can maintain my friendships and my son can maintain his. We hope to visit our friends who moved to other countries or that they will be transferred back. To help with the relationships with the extended family out-of-state, we have weekly phone calls and sometimes use facetime or google hangout. Our son is not so good at emailing but he will occasionally send out messages. When he was younger we made photo flashcards of the family so he’d know who people were when we would go up to the Midwest. This way, they seemed familiar. Now of course it is not needed. He loves his extended family. He is excited when they come visit us. He has favorite places to see when we are up by them. With friends, we share emails, have phone calls, and share FB photos with our son. Relationships can be maintained over the distance.
Being gifted also does not make relationships easy but us living in a transient global community makes it much harder. There are perks of learning about so many cultures, but there is also more work required to make friends and to keep friends. It’s worth it for the long term as it teaches adaptability and that relationships require work from all parties who want it maintained. And thankfully, the extended family and the friends we have understand and accept our son for who he is. Maintaining relationships also means more road trips for us, which our son also enjoys and become excellent homeschool (road school) opportunities!
Check out other blogs on relationships and giftedness at Hoagies’!