Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dear World

Dear World,

You may not have noticed my son, Adam, yet. He hates to be the center of attention, so it's okay that you haven't noticed him. He likes it that way. But I want you to know more about him before you do. Because he's a special kid, my middle child. I've known a lot of kids in my life and career and have never known one quite like him.

He's highly sensitive. And I don't mean that in the way you might think. I mean it in the personality type way. There are people, 15-20% of people in fact, who have this type of personality. Adam is one of them. That means that his senses are heightened in every way. Bright lights are brighter. Loud noises louder. A little poke, very painful. He is extremely prone to car sickness and gets nauseous even on straight roads. (But strangely he loves roller coasters. The faster the better!) Ironically, he has a very high tolerance for some pain and barely made it to the emergency room for an appendectomy before his appendix burst because he didn't want to complain and be any trouble.

Highly sensitive people notice everything around them so are often easily distracted and seem to lack focus. That's not what it seems, though. He can be extremely focused on the things that are important to him. It's just not always what I, or you, World, think should be important. Please take time to see what he sees. Because frankly, he sees way more than most of the rest of us.

Regardless of distractions, he is a perfectionist. When he was in my kindergarten class, I could not figure out why the slightest mistake could cause a major meltdown. It was the perfectionism. And take it from me, a non-perfectionist, perfectionism in others can be very, very frustrating. Sometimes I just want him to get the job done. It doesn't have to be perfect! But just try telling him that. The upside is that if you are patient, whatever he is doing will be done well.

He is very intuitive. He can read other people's feelings much better than the average 12 year old...often better than the average 40 year old. Sometimes it's like he can read my mind. He knows what I'm thinking about the most random things. Once when I was going to get money out of the ATM for vacation, he knew how much I was going to get. The weird thing was, I didn't even know how much I was going to get until I got there. I had been debating in my head about how much we'd need and finally settled on $300. When he saw the amount, he said, "Mom, that's weird, I knew you were going to get $300." Weird indeed. Things like that happen often between he and I. He has also started experiencing frequent deja vu. I don't know if that has anything to do with his sensitivity, but I think it might.

He is also very clever and has an amazingly mature sense of humor...always has. When he was about three years old, he was in the bath and every time I pulled the plug, he'd close it so that he could play longer. After about the third time, I said, "Adam, if you close that again, you're going to get a spanking." To which he replied, "No closing costs, Mom." Really? No closing costs? He was three! (And had apparently seen way too many mortgage commercials.) That's just one example of many I could share about his unique sense of humor.

He is a thinker and has always been a child who asks questions way beyond his age. A lot of questions. He asks questions about the state of the world and God and other people. And he truly wants to know and cares about the answer. Sometimes his thinking leads to worry, which is, well, worrisome. I don't want him to worry when he's 12. At least not about things he has no control over. I try to encourage him to let me be the adult and to enjoy being a kid.

He is ultra-sympathetic. He hates to see people, or any creature really, suffer in any way. Even when he was very young, he would give up things to keep his brother happy. And he goes out of his way to make sure other's feelings don't get hurt. But if they do, he hurts for them. I love that about him. But, World, you might use that against him. Don't. We all need people who protect those who need protection. Embrace that about him.

He can become obsessive. Whatever it is that he is into at the time will fill his mind and rule his thoughts for as long as he is interested. I've learned to accept that about him. I might find Halo guys extremely unimportant, but he finds them fascinating. So I listen to the description of each one and try my hardest to appreciate what he appreciates.

He is a rule follower and a truth teller. Things are black and white to him. He has a hard time understanding why others can't just follow the rules. They're the rules for a reason. If he hears about someone doing something terrible in the world, it hurts his heart. He feels for the hurt ones and just can't understand why anyone would want to hurt others. Even when doing current events for his history class, he looks for news stories that are good or uplifting. Nothing about devastation, please.

Not until just recently while reading the book, The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron, did I realize how very special Adam is. I've always known he was different than my other children and all the children who have been a part of my life. Not bad or good, just different. Imagine my surprise when I learned that there are millions of people just like him in the world. And most don't even know that there are others like them. So, World, watch out for these special souls. Treat them with gentleness and understanding. They won't be the ones on center stage (although they make good actors because of their sympathetic and intuitive natures). They will be the ones working to make a better world because they truly care about others. They will be the ones finding cures for diseases because they are single minded in their interests. They will be the thinkers and planners and fighters for justice. And one of these special people is my Adam. So watch out, World, because when you do finally notice him, you'll never be the same.

Adam's Mom