I have a highly sensitive child. I knew from the moment he was born that he was going to be different, but I expected it to only be physical differences due to a condition he had as a baby.
Doctors monitored him while he was still in my belly; he had an illness that caused his kidneys to act as a bladder instead of his actual bladder.
What I didn’t know – and might I add I still don’t – is how the illness was going to affect him, nor did I know his personality and how life would unfold.
Now my son is doing amazing. Though he can’t play contact sports, he is for most part “normal” and healthy. Thank God. He has become an answer to so many prayers.
I see how he is special.
In the midst of fighting for his life, I watched my son gravitate toward the late side of milestones. He was on the cusp of being late to rollover, smile, walk and talk.
Naturally when it came to school, I decided it was best for our family to hold him back one year. He is now one of the oldest in his grade, and while he excels academically, socially I see struggles.
My biggest issue is that my son can’t – and won’t – play games or sports. By the grace of God he actually really dislikes sports; to the tune of avoiding them like the plague in social environments, including on play dates and the playground.
He chooses friends that don’t play sports, but he’s already gotten in trouble this school year from his choices in playing with the wrong boys. They are kids that we wouldn’t choose as friends for him. He’s not quite at the point of knowing how to stand up for what he believes in; he goes with the flow, which often times can lead down a bad path.
I know that not playing sports shouldn’t be the end of the world. I get it. In theory, I should just help guide him toward those activities he does enjoy. And while I’m exploring other opportunities for him, if I’m being honest, I’m feeling timid in this unchartered territory.
Letting go of what MY expectations are for my son has been difficult at times.
He is my exception to the rule in an area that places a lot of emphasis on sports teams. A part of me mourns and longs for a sports-loving child, and admitting this is very hard for me. I want others to see him for his wonderfulness too, and yet it’s hard when he doesn’t quite fit the mold.
I love my son fiercely and think he’s absolutely amazing. He has a memory that lasts longer than I can imagine. He is insightful when he says things like “I don’t want to be embarrassed” or “that person probably feels uncomfortable by that situation.” Instead of playing ball, he will sit down to write and illustrate his own comics.
A few months ago, a counselor introduced me to a book called the Highly Sensitive Child (HSC), and it fits him perfectly. While not all HSCs behave the same way, mine reacts to subtle changes, overwhelms with high levels of stimulation, and the emotional stress of others affects him.
Everything to a HSC is more: more sensitive, intense, conscientious, etc.
We gently nudge him into trying new things; to not be timid or afraid of failure, yet we know at the end of the day, we are lucky to love him exactly for who he is – our conscientious son.
For now, I watch him opt out and sit on the sidelines. He isn’t any less content, and I need to follow his lead on this. Slowly, and patiently, I watch my highly sensitive child and love him for exactly the way God made him – perfect.