Extracurricular activities and the zebra child

Little zebras and extracurricular activities

Treat an individual as he is, and he will remain what he is.
Treat him as he must and can become, and he will become what he must and can be.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We often talk about the difficulties associated with school, but rarely about those encountered in extracurricular activities.

I still remember when my mother used to send my sister and me to the local leisure center on Wednesday afternoons and vacations because she worked. I hated going there. Not having a moment’s peace, having to play with everyone, not getting along with the other kids. I only saw constraints in these afternoons. Fortunately, there was my sister, to whom I clung like a mussel to its rock.

Elementary school, the end of innocence

It was also around this time that I was no longer able to eat at the canteen. I felt sick to my stomach every time I had to go. It was only on Friday lunchtimes, but for me it was already too much. The canteen gave me my first psychological shock.

When I stumbled into a table of grown-ups in the first trimester of first grade, I sadly discovered that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy didn’t exist. It was then that I realized that adults were all liars, my parents in particular. I had such a bad time of it that I still wonder whether I’m going to make my children believe that it’s Santa Claus who puts the presents under the tree.

Shortly afterwards, a second misadventure. One of the teachers forced me to eat my grated carrots. I hated carrots. I ate them and then threw them up. After these two incidents, which happened practically back to back, it was impossible to get me to eat in the school canteen again. I was in a tizzy and completely distressed. My grandparents had to take over so that I could go back to school calmly, otherwise I’d have a lump in my stomach first thing in the morning.

What activity should a zebra child choose?

When I was very young, I needed to exercise. I could spend as many hours reading in my room as I did building cabins in the forest. I ran everywhere, played a lot and loved all sports. My parents tried to get me involved in activities with other children, but as with the leisure center, it was torture. I refused to be left and I didn’t talk to anyone.

I tried gymnastics without much conviction because my cousins had signed up. As soon as our mothers left the room, I was stressed. I had an irrational fear of abandonment. I soon stopped, firstly because I wasn’t very good at it and secondly because I didn’t like the person who was training us at all. She was tyrannical when we were five!

I tried judo because my older sister had been enrolled for several years, but again, it wasn’t very successful. Then, one day, my father took me to a basketball practice. As soon as I touched my first ball, I knew right away that this was what I wanted to do.

Refusing to fail

First of all, it was fun! I could run around and play with a ball, and the young lady who coached us was kind and approachable. Besides, I was good at it. I immediately felt very comfortable with the ball in my hand and that reassured me. I had trouble with failure. I refused to be a failure at anything. You always had to succeed. Always be good. When I couldn’t do it, I lost all my nerve and refused to start again..

Fear of abandonment

Despite my abilities, I refused to go and play if one of my parents didn’t stay for training. Even today, I confess I don’t understand why it was so difficult. I remember how it made me feel, but why I was so scared, I don’t know. Afraid of something happening? Afraid I wouldn’t make it if they weren’t there?

It was still my grandfather who was assigned to accompany me to training every Wednesday afternoon. Looking back, it’s a good thing my maternal grandparents were relatively available to come to my parents’ rescue, because otherwise I don’t know how they would have managed.

Managing children as a teacher, entertainer or trainer…

I continued to play basketball for years. I think what I liked was that there was no need to talk, the game was enough. The only thing that terrified me was being the last one chosen for a team. I’d like to take this opportunity to give a word of advice to anyone training children in associations or schools: make up the teams yourself. Psychologically, it’s very violent to be the last to be chosen. The child has the impression of being useless, uninteresting and worthless.

Are you ready to go through this again as an adult?
Be the last person chosen, the last person invited or the last person informed? No, even today it’s still violent, so imagine the impact on a child, and what’s more, a zebra or hypersensitive child.

Communicating, reassuring, reassuring

Anyway, I still didn’t want to train without someone staying in the stands. My parents ended up faking me out. One day, my father came, except that after five minutes, he got up and left. It felt like a real betrayal, but I eventually got used to it and trained without anyone staying in the stands.

I played basketball for twenty-five years, including several years in the semi-professional league, after passing through several training centers.

Looking back, I guess I just wish I’d been prepared. I wish my parents had explained to me, as they did at school, why they couldn’t stay for every training session. That it wasn’t that they didn’t like me or weren’t interested in my sport, but that it was a sign of trust and autonomy.

Differentiating between the classroom and the rest of the world

I’m a wild child when it comes to after-school activities, but I wasn’t terrified of going to school. School for me was the classroom, the classroom was learning, learning was good. On the other hand, attendance at the canteen, studies and daycare is out of the question.

If you have zebra children who have difficulty attending school, it’s important to identify where the problem is coming from:

  • the teacher
  • recess
  • the canteen
  • other children
  • the fact that you, the parents, are not there
  • sitting all day
  • must obey
  • constraints (if so, identify which ones)

Simply ask him the question, making it clear that he can tell you anything and that you can understand everything.

A zebra child, special attention

A zebra child has very special needs in his or her school career. Ideally, you’ll find a teacher who listens carefully and is open to the subject of giftedness. A zebra child, even more than others, requires attention, specific follow-up, adapted exercises, patience and sensitivity.

The first signs of precociousness can already be spotted in kindergarten and primary school, but the turning point often comes in secondary school. High school is the most likely place to drop out, even if some precocious teenagers do manage to find their place there at last.

Nothing is planned, Nothing is premeditated

Thank you so much for being here, thank you so much for reading this article all the way through.
I wish you a beautiful end of day, a beautiful week. Take good care of yourself.

You can also find more information, resources and tools on Giftedness in Mel POINASbook. With a lot of humor, Mel tells the story of the discovery of her giftedness and the routines she put in place to finally find her place!

Le livre

Écrit par une HPI !
Un témoignage et des solutions concrètes pour découvrir, comprendre et apprendre à vivre en étant HPI.

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