You know, sometimes I would sit in a bus on my way to work and there would be a mother and a child in a pram. The child would sit there quietly, staring at other people’s faces, or looking out the window. The child would occasionally ask for attention, but nothing loud or stressful. I often think – why doesn’t my little girl do that? Such a guilt-tripping thought, but it does cross my mind.
Helen is a high-energy child. Full-on hyperactive. When she was a baby, by 2 months old, she was awake most of the time. She’s a terrible sleeper, always hated the pram, and especially the car seat. She’s also very demanding, and doesn’t stop until she gets what she wants. She’s highly expressive, especially when she’s angry or disappointed. Helen’s tantrums are intense.
Taking Helen to a restaurant is a constant hit-and-miss. Sometimes, she would sit down quietly while drawing on her drawing book, but there are times where we had to exit the restaurant, carrying her out in a surfboard style while she screams in anger, leaving behind a table flooded with water, with a pepper shaker dipped into a glass of water, crumbs of cookies on the floor and the whole restaurant staring.
Parenting a spirited child like Helen is exhausting. As soon as I sit down, she makes me stand up again. She doesn’t like playing alone, so playtime means that we are made to play with her.
What is a spirited child, really? It really does seem like a useless ‘category’ and I usually hate categorising kids, but Helen is such a spirited child, and I don’t connect it to a negative connotation. A spirited child perseveres, and keeps at it. They also sleep differently, or rather… they don’t really sleep much. Their have big emotions, and they like to take charge. They’re loud and their tantrums are epic. They also want to try do everything they see their parents do. New things bother them, and it takes a while for them to settle down.
However, a child like Helen shows intelligence, wits, creativity and eagerness and curiosity to learn – and I don’t want to take that away from her. I learn a lot from her behaviour, and she had made me a better person. Helen has helped me understand a whole new level of patience and resilience.
Parenting Helen have also helped us schedule our days better. There is a time for work, and there is a time for family. It’s a whole new level of discipline but I don’t mind it at all. We become so much better at time management. This goes to other families who have calm children too. I hear that parenting in general forces us to order and schedule our days in a better way.
Needless to say, that Helen is a blessing. She is such a joy to parent, and it’s such a privilege to be her mum. Hey hyperactivity only means that I have to learn to keep up and be on my feet!