Kole, our 4 1/2 year old, is highly sensitive. If you have not read the amazing book The Highly Sensitive Person or its "sequel" about children, it is a great one to pick up or, in our case, borrow from the library. Simply put, there is a very wide spectrum but a highly sensitive person is more aware of his/her world: pain, seams in socks, embarrasment, separation, loud noises...all of these would qualify. Because I am anything but highly sensitive (and, unfortunately, sometimes not sensitive at all!), for a lot of years I thought Kole may be trying to make my life difficult. I mean, I would think, "Buck up, buddy! Who cares if your shirt feels "crinkly"! What does that really mean anyway?!?" And what about the dread of putting snow clothes on every winter and the guaranteed tears that comes as a result?! It was all so annoying to me. That was my attitude pre-book. (There's a little "fleshly attitude" for you)
Well, after learning a little about children--and people--who are highly sensitive, I really began to see the legitimacy in their feelings (I mean, c'mon Danielle! When are a person's feelings not legitimate anyway! My social worker mom would be SO disappointed in me!!!) I began to parent Kole differently--and better. Now, I see the beauty in his sensitivity. That does not mean that when I'm in a hurry to get out the door, I'm not impatient over shoes that don't feel right, or that when the special Stride Rite seamless socks I purchased (at over $9 for a pack of 3) still don't ease his discomfort, I'm not a little perturbed. However, it really is a beautiful thing. Kole is incredible. He is the child that pulls me to him and says, "Mom, that necklace looks BEAUTIFUL!" He is the one that notices a pretty smell in a friend's bathroom. He is the one (his preschool teacher tells me) that looks after his classmate who has forgotten a scarf on their special Snow Day. And he is the one that today said to me from the couch, "Mom, did you know that I feel sad that I have so much stuff?!?" which began an incredible conversation about how much we have and how little others have...and how we need to do more to help.
Kole Joseph, I love you SO much, little man. Thank you for noticing all those things in life that so many of us forget. May I learn even more from you in the days ahead.