The Highly Sensitive Child.
I knew early on that my Munchie was special. I know a lot of parents think their kids are special so let me explain further. Of course, I thought she was special in the sense that she was my child and we all think our kids are special, but she was different. When we would go to birthday parties, they were often too loud for her. She would cling to me with her hands over her ears looking at me for an escape route. I was always nervous about functions and if the noise would be too much or too stimulating to her. For as long as I can remember she has been extremely particular about certain things. If she sat on a chair that was unbalanced it would rock her entire world. For years I have had to cut tags out of her clothing and she always wears her socks inside out because the line on the toes really bothers her. Her body is highly sensitive, so are her emotions. It was her preschool teacher who first told me that she was a highly sensitive child. I had no idea what that was. I did my research and learned the following:
“A highly sensitive child is one of the fifteen to twenty percent of children born with a nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything. This makes them quick to grasp subtle changes, prefer to reflect deeply before acting, and generally behave conscientiously. They are also easily overwhelmed by high levels of stimulation, sudden changes, and the emotional distress of others. “
THIS WAS SO MY CHILD. I was relieved, but also frustrated. My baby was clearly struggling with a lot of different things. Things that could easily be confused as a toddler temper tantrum but this was so much more than that. I was so thankful that her teacher brought this to my attention. We have had our fair share of emotional moments. The majority of highly sensitive kids are also empaths. Her poor little body and mind can be easily overwhelmed. I am in love with her spirit but I am also terrified that the world may do some major damage to it. As an empath myself, I know how hard it can be navigating this world, I struggled myself as a child but nothing in comparison to how much things impact her. I am doing my best to protect her spirit. I love her compassion but also want her to learn to shield herself.
One time while visiting our family in Wisconsin Munchie was in her Papa Lee’s arms and she said, “Papa Lee I love you” as she grabbed his face and turned It towards hers. “Do you know why I love you Papa Lee? Because my love is free.” The photo above is right after munch proclaimed her “free love” for Papa Lee.
A week ago, as I was putting her to sleep she informed me that she had taken a picture out of her baby book. She was keeping it under her pillow. I told her that we had to keep the pictures in the book so that she could keep them forever. As I went to retrieve it, I noticed it was a picture of her father and me. We’ve been divorced a few years and she knows she is very loved by the both of us but, still, it caught me off guard. As I took the picture away she said, “I’m sorry mom, I just wanted a reminder that you guys loved each other once. “Now let me be clear-even when we were together we never fought in front of her and we present ourselves as a united front no matter what, but a highly sensitive child picks up on EVERYTHING. I felt awful. I explained to her that we both love her very much and told her the story of our love. That that love brought us both two beautiful little girls, our biggest gifts and accomplishments and that we would always have a respect and love for each other because of it. She was silent and then I saw tears well up in her eyes.
I didn’t know what to do. I thought I had given a really good explanation. I told her she was made from love, will be raised in love, and that there were even bonus people to love her as her dad and I both have partners. I was searching for something more reassuring to say to her but sensing my panic she reached up put her little hand to my check and quietly said, “Oh momma, don’t worry, these are happy tears.” I realized then that she will always be ok. Her intuition is impeccable, her moral compass superb- and she’s six. For so long I had been worried about what the world would do to her, how it could break her spirit. I was thinking about it all wrong. She will take on the world. It’s in her nature to love deeply, to inquire about things that don’t make sense or that do harm to people…and even more to want to fix it or change it. She is exactly what the world needs. Raising a highly sensitive kid has not always been the easiest task, but it has definitely been the most beautiful one. I pray for her little empathic spirit and over active nervous system daily but what some may see as a disorder or an inconvenience; I see nothing but a gift.