We had a really big storm last night, complete with thunder, lightning, and torrential rain. I could tell it was a big storm because the Army Man woke up, something which usually requires me jumping up and down on him to accomplish. He went downstairs to check everything out so I figured I would go check on Laura. She was wide awake, curled up in a tiny little ball; face down on her pillow with her fingers in her ears. Poor little thing! She informed me that she just doesn’t like loud noises. Now there’s an understatement. She was so pathetic that she came to sleep in our bed for a while, something virtually unheard of in this house.
As Laura laid there in bed with us, kicking me in the back and reminding me why she never sleeps in our bed, I started thinking about her and how weird it feels to finally understand parts of her personality. Laura is very sensitive, something which took a while to figure out. I’m not talking about emotionally sensitive, although Laura definitely is, but sensitive physically. I’m sure plenty of parents deal with what we do, and I feel for them. Laura is such a sweet girl but can be very challenging in an unconventional sense. Trying to be patient as she freaks out over wearing a certain shirt because it “hurts” her is hard. Tags in clothes are an absolute disaster. Constantly searching for her three lost pairs of sunglasses because the sun is “attacking” her eyes is hard. Eating is a struggle too-lots of foods taste weird or feel funny in her mouth. Her hair is always in her eyes “bothering” her. She refuses to see movies in the theaters because it’s too loud. If anything smells remotely weird-well forget it, because that’s a disaster too and will ruin her day. If she is in trouble and told in a firm voice to go upstairs, she collapses in a sobbing heap. She always seems to get hurt and it always seems to hurt "really bad". The hardest part for me with all of this is that it is very difficult to calm her down and get her to move on when she has gotten worked up over something. Most days include several catastrophes that involve her screaming and crying and me trying to remain calm. That usually doesn't work out.
About two years ago, I read a book about challenging children because I really had no idea what was going on with Laura and why she just never seemed happy and why I was always frustrated with her. There was a section about “Highly Sensitive” children and reading it was as if someone wrote a book about just Laura. It talked about how some children (and adults) have senses that are much more heightened than a normal person and that it doesn’t help that these people are often emotionally sensitive too. I’m not going to claim that reading that book helped me figure out how to be a perfect mother to Laura. In fact, I don’t know if it helped me at all. Maybe I should go read it again. But it is such a relief to know that occasionally, when Laura says, “I just don’t like loud noises,” I can take her into my bed, snuggle her, calm her down, and feel like maybe I’m not such a bad Mommy after all.