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

Three and terrific!

Dear JJ,

You’ve grown by leaps and bounds in the past few months. I utterly enjoy the conversations we have now because you can catch me when I’m telling a joke, or when I said something incorrectly or that doesn’t make sense. It makes me realise that you can call my bluff so I have to be on my toes.

You have graduated from tearful tantrums to using words to express your emotions. Now when you are angry, you will knit your brows together and exclaim, “I don’t want to talk anymore!”

Obviously we all know that’s a promise that you can’t keep, so hearing you say it just makes me want to giggle. But in all seriousness I try to show that I respect your wishes, and I will just purse my lips together and nod.

Even at such a tender age, you seem to know the way to a lady’s heart. Every night you shower me with muacks, and tell me “I love you”. (Aunty Hsing would know this too. Especially after that day you saw her and greeted her with a spontaneous “I miss you”. If I were her I would have melted too.)

Your favourite past-times are riding your strider or skate-scooter pretending you’re as fast as the wind. You also like to play a fireman busy saving the fire, bad guy snowman (courtesy of frozen), and more recently spiderman. Thankfully we haven’t had to peel you off any walls as yet.

You’ve recently started to use our grown up phases back at us. You’d tell me, “Mummy, I’m busy. Don’t disturb me!” or “Mummy, stop talking, eat your food. You cannot talk when you’re eating!” or “Go to sleep now. Stop talking.”

=_=

This year, for your birthday, we gave you unlimited joy rides at the mall. We put heaps of one dollar coins into a cloth purse and let you have free rein. Granted, you’re probably deprived since we normally n.e.v.e.r put any money into the machines (because we think the money could be so much better spent on other things.) But it was fun watching you “drive” those music-spewing cars/helicopters/wagons. (Also having two stowaways made it all the more fun and worthwhile.)

I also tried making fondant monster cupcakes for the first time, and thank our good God that they turned out well. You loved the cupcakes. (I know because you asked me for more, and when it came to bedtime prayer, you thanked God for the monster cupcakes.)

monster cupcakes

JJ turns 3

I'm busy eating!

We also made these monster goody cups using tall paper cups. Inside each cup was a stick-on ice-cream tattoo, and some old-school biscuits. I hope your little friends enjoyed these!

monster goody cups

I just can’t help but thank God for giving us the grace and helping us ride through this past rather wild year. At some points, we thought we were lost in the woods (and you were some crazy caveboy), but He kept teaching and exhorting us to love and to be patient, and to try new things.

Now, I know that the taste of having fought hard in battle and overcoming, is ever so sweet. Of course, the struggles will still be there, and we’ll constantly have to go on our knees to ask for wisdom and help. But it helps to remember that you, my dear boy, is God’s special gift to us.

You may be three. Or thirty-three. It doesn’t matter. You’ll always be my pot of sunshine joy.

Love, mummy.

PS. if you wanna DIY these goody cups:

  • Tall paper cups from Daiso. (I made 6-7 one-inch cuts from the tip of the cup, evenly spaced out. Then folded the rims down, and slotted the last fold beneath the first one, to lock them in place)
  • I drew the monsters on the cups using Sharpies. You can find these at the larger Popular stores or at Artfriend.

Five and beautiful

Dear Vera,

I can’t believe you turned five last week. And how much you’ve blossomed and grown.

You have morphed from a me-centred tantrum-filled toddler into a sociable, outgoing, loving little girl – all within the past two years. Still me-centred at times but at least now you’ve learnt to spare a thought for others and consider other people’s needs and wants along with yours.

You know how to manage JJ so well now, you come across like a little mummy. Of course bickering over silly things like him intruding into your space, or erasing your drawings – that still is rampant, but you generally hold your emotions better now (as opposed to random bursting into tears), and have learnt to negotiate or turn your energy towards something more productive. (You also like to come running with an official complaint against him, and sometimes we do step in to mediate.)

You are such a loving big sister! You simply adore your new little brother – you always want to play with him, touch and cuddle him, and can even help to soothe him when he cries by giving him the pacifier and singing him a song.

lots of love from big sister

And of course, you’ve our lovely sunshine daughter too. I love the way you create your own cards, make funny knick-knacks from recycled scrap, and your little girl drawings. Very often they tell me the things that matter to you most – namely earrings, long hair, high heeled shoes, and necklaces, bangles, flowers and rainbows.

card

You may be obsessed with princesses and painted finger nails (we tell you you can only paint them when you grow up), but we love you very much and are ever so proud of you. Always remember this no matter where you go or what you become.

Vera turns 5

We are blessed to be greeted with your loving hugs and kisses, and to share in your funny dreams and ambitions. Just the other day you said you wanted to invent a sticker machine so that all your friends can come over and never need to buy stickers anymore. “Can save money,” you said earnestly. I just smiled and nodded my head. (I don’t have the heart to poke holes in your dreams…)

a graceful pose

On your fifth birthday, we celebrated with your friends at school, had a picnic with your godparents (to celebrate godpa’s birthday too), and watched Hello Ling. (Oh we also managed to catch bits of the chingay procession that happened over the weekend.) These are simple things but I pray they make up part of your childhood memories and tell you that you are dearly loved and precious in our sight.

I pray that as you grow, you’ll develop a big heart for people.

I pray that you’ll continue to love nature, dance and art, and be able to connect with others through this love.

I pray that you’ll continue to dream those wild and beautiful dreams, and that one day you’ll be able to turn some of these into reality. With a bit of support from us and help from God.

Love, mummee.

You are highly favoured

It’s the time of the year again. A time to give thanks for the year gone by, and to look ahead for the one to come.

A time to feel honoured, appreciated, and loved. By family, friends, girlfriends, colleagues, and even some close fellow bloggers with whom I’ve recently had the pleasure of hanging out with (mostly online of course).

There was a leisurely brunch, a birthday cake (a slice, rather!), a romantic dinner (with hubby), and many many blessings.

One particularly poignant one came from a close girlfriend. She said this:

You are blessed and highly favoured. 

Somehow the words ‘highly favoured’ stuck in my head. And it made me realise that indeed! Yes, I am! In a position of favour with God!

Doesn’t matter that I don’t feel worthy most days of this. It’s not dependent on what I think or how I feel.

It’s dependent on what the Word of truth says.

So I did a search on the keyword and came up with a few verses:

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man. ~Luke 2:52

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favour and good success in the sight of God and man. ~Prov 3:3-4

Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favour, but evil comes to him who searches for it. ~Prov 11:27

According to these verses, there are a few things that we actually need to do, to find favour with God, and man. Such as diligently seek good, keep his word in our hearts, and in the context of the first verse, be submissive to (in other words, honour) our parents.

I guess it’s pretty obvious what my response should be. (I’m pretty sure he didn’t grant me favour so that I can simply bask in the joy of knowing that.)

It is to keep doing good in whatever situation I’m in.

It is to keep my ears and heart open to His word.

It is to honour my parents. (Something I don’t think about enough.)

I’m indeed blessed to have friends who speak such words of life and truth to me. At the start of a new and fresh year, I am definitely looking forward to what lies ahead, knowing that I enjoy the favour of God, and that I’m able to share that too with others around me.

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