A letter to my highly sensitive child (who turns 4)

Dear JJ,

We’ve come a long way from the start of this year, when you experienced some difficult moments and exhibited repetitive behaviour.

After some sessions with the OT (and lots of frenzied seaching for answers on the Internet and everywhere else), I started to see you in a different light. I started to understand your needs and preference for order. I tried harder to see things from your perspective. I also adjusted my expectations of you. Slowly, things began to make sense, and the future didn’t look so bleak.

Along the way, a good friend recommended me this book: The Highly Sensitive Child (aff link). That was when more pieces of the puzzle clicked into place. It’s true, you’re a highly sensitive child. You notice when mama changes her clothes or wears a new dress. You notice and you ask questions when a stranger looks sad or a baby is crying somewhere. You pick up vibes that other people do not. You remember the words I utter, and sometimes even use them against me when they seem to contradict with reality. “Mummy, but you said…” I’ve learnt to be really careful about the things I say, and to make only promises that I’m able to keep.

Labels of clothes irritate you. So do socks that don’t fit well on your toes and heel. You dislike it when the string of your pants are tied lopsided (you want the loops on the left and right to be equal). These preferences are often challenging for us and it’s sometimes necessary to remove the issue altogether by thinking twice about every purchase we make for you. (By the way, all the clothes that you dislike have been passed on to your baby brother, in case you’re wondering why he looks like he’s wearing oversized clothes half the time…)

To help transition from activity to activity, we have to prep you beforehand and pay close attention to what you’re trying to say when you resist moving on. We try to address your needs before we can move on together. Of course, many times, I get impatient and play the “you listen to me young man” card. But these days, I catch myself and am quicker to soften up and ease you along without further pushing. I hope you know…I am learning along with you too.

I’ve been observing when our routines do work for you, and when they don’t. It’s already obvious that busy days don’t serve us well as rushing about tends to stress your system. So we tend to take it easier on the weekends, by planning only one major outing per day.

For your birthday celebration, we only invited our usual friends around to celebrate with you. It’s not that we didn’t want to plan a big party for you, but we realised that this is what you’re most comfortable with right now, and we really really wanted you to just be yourself and not be over-stimulated by a large group of people. I’m thankful that you enjoyed yourself thoroughly, and that your little friends did too.

JJ_feeding fish

There are challenges but there are also joys.

I want you to know that I see the small steps you take.

You’re learning to express your emotions in words, and to explain your frustrations to mama and daddy.

You’re learning to let go when your play or reading is disrupted by your siblings or others.

You also make us roll over in laughter many-a-times with your silly expressions and all the funny things you say.

JJ_omg

Recently I’ve started to place the problem-solving back in your hands by asking the question “What can we do to help you?” or “What do you think we can do about this problem?” You’ve surprised me occasionally with the ways you’ve suggested to solve the problem, and more often than not, after thinking about it, you’d just say, actually it’s okay. Almost like you’re learning to live with the messiness of this life we have here on earth. Hearing you say those words puts a silent smile on my face.

When you’re engaged in a learning activity, like swimming and piano, you’re happy to be immersed in that learning space, and you respond really well to teachers. I’ve seen you grow in leaps and bounds in swimming. Where is that fear of being in the deep pool now? You’re now utterly enjoying yourself in the water, and the swim coaches are telling me how much you love it. (Of course, although I’m trying to get some laps done now that you’re in independent classes, I often peek over when I’m close enough, and I see it for myself too.)

On good days, you show us that you’re capable of being very loving, to us as well as your siblings. When little Josh is crying, you will sometimes help him by distracting him or offering a toy.

When we’re out on our special dates, you’re usually happy and cheery. On those occasions, I’d hardly hear a whine from you. It’s led me to conclude:

Attention and affirmation are the best medicine for your sensitive child-soul.

JJ_walking

Obviously at this age, you’re happy to channel your super-heros into daily life. From Batman, to Captain America, to Spiderman, and even Fireman. We often call upon your heros to remind you of how you can be bigger and braver than you think you are. (And oh, also to eat your veggies, because that’s what super-heroes do all the time.)

I searched through my blog archives and realised that I’ve written a lot about you. Here are a few of my favourite (and not-so-favourite) moments:

on taming your anger

on re-discovering my middle child

on being my sunshine

on the terrible twos

the day we nearly lost you

on making up with daddy

– when you penned your thoughts at 15 months

Reading through the old posts, I can’t help but realise…What a journey it’s been for us.

God has taught me patience and trust through it all. He’s also been gracious to allow us to catch glimpses of your progress, your good attitude towards learning, and your loving acts on good days. These things, though small, remind me of God’s faithfulness. He’s telling us to trust in Him more, and to seek His wisdom as we raise you and your big sis and little bro.

As we celebrate you turning four, my prayer is that you’ll grow strong wings, and sink in deep roots in faith in God. May He grow you to become a God-fearing, and people-loving man, who will walk closely and in obedience to God. May you be brave to take flight and soar wherever He may lead you.

Happy birthday, my buddy boy. Apart from your daddy, you’ll always be my favourite superhero.

Hugs and kisses,

Mama

Batman suit

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Comments

    • June says

      Thanks Karen! We go to a rather child-friendly piano school, where there’s a lot of characters, play and movement incorporated in the lessons. So that helps! 🙂

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