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The funny thing about the September drama over Simon’s sensitivity is that all the books talk about how “difficult” these children are. One book is even titled The Difficult Child. Apparently, I am supposed to be an impatient, overwhelmed mother who is either annoyed at my child for being different or worked up into a frenzy myself because I’m equally sensitive.

Except I’m not, and Matt’s not. We’re a very well suited family unit. (And, hello, he’s not that different.) I’m not sure if I can explain it exactly, but Simon fits into our lives beautifully. He’s much more of a boy’s boy than Matt ever was interest-wise, but his gentle disposition is all Matt. He’s slow to approach a large group, but is plenty social with smaller ones and isn’t shy at all if a soccer ball or basketball is involved. He loves to finger-paint and do the arts and crafty stuff I’ve always liked. He loves to watch leaves flutter in the wind, play with mulch, throw rocks into the creek, and watch squirrels chase each other up trees. He adores our cats and is super sweet to them. He loves playing silly games.

In other words, he’s Matt in some respects, me in a few, and very much “us” all around. He’s the exact boy that we were meant to have, and none of this “sensitive” stuff is a bother to either of us. Most of the time, I consider it a bonus. The only difficult part seems to be convincing others that this all fine and normal, and sometimes knowing when to push and when to step back and let him be.

For example: Two weeks ago, we were invited to dear friend Sophie’s 4th birthday party at Pump It Up, a big inflatable party zone for kids. It’s the type of place that sports loud music, bright colors, and a huge potential for sensory overload. The party was scheduled during the exact hours Simon normally naps.

The red flags were unmistakable. You do not ask children to stretch multiple boundaries all at once, and you do not push them when they are tired or hungry. I knew that. But since Sophie is Simon’s oldest friend, we felt obligated to go and spent weeks discussing strategies for making it OK. Then, as I read more about his personality type and the day approached, the answer became clear. We put Simon down for his nap as scheduled, Matt stayed home with him, and I went to the party so I could give Sophie her present, wish her a happy birthday, and help out by taking pictures.

Later that day, after Simon awoke from his nap and had dinner, we went over to Sophie’s house so he could wish her a happy birthday. They hugged, played, made a horrible mess eating cake together, and chased each other around the house. Simon shrieked with joy for the better part of two hours, until we went home and he collapsed from all the excitement.

Was that so difficult? No. The only part of this small accommodation to his personality that required any effort at all was getting over my own desire to please, recognizing Simon’s limits, and doing the right thing by him. And that’s the thing: He’s not difficult at all; he’s a delight. The difficulty comes solely from asking him to be someone he’s not.

3 Responses to “Difficult is in the Eye of the Beholder”

  1. goldsteinrita says:

    You are a very smart mother. I’m not sure I would have had the guts to do what you did because I was always such a “rule follower”. Do what everyone expects, even if its really not the right thing for that situation. Maybe being a little older when you have your children gives you some better ideas about how to do it right.

  2. bethnbobinnc says:

    Amen and Amen!

  3. blg says:

    Or maybe your mom was a pretty good role model in figuring out what was truly important. Perhaps her wisdom helped you and Matt decide that abiding by someone else expectations was absolutely not worth upsetting Simon and spoiling his day, your day and maybe even Sophie’s.

    Keep on trucking!

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