A note about Braeden, for his birthday. He turns 4 this week, and is a once in a lifetime kind of kid. I don't know where to start except to say that he is exquisitely smart, shy and anxious. It is hard for me to describe what it is like to raise him... He's the kid that won't answer when spoken to, won't join the game, doesn't want to eat the cookie that was offered and doesn't smile at silliness. He is misunderstood, even by those close to him. Doctors, dentists and photographers freak him out. His preschool teacher asked me if he might be autistic (he's not) and said he was a slow processer (definitely not). He is afraid of stepping on slugs in the rain, trash on the sidewalk and poop on the grass. He is easily tuckered out. He watches Nova, and Bill Nye the science guy. Clowns are his nemesis. He is an extremely picky eater, and would survive on only milk, yogurt and cheese if I would allow it. He likes knock-knock jokes and is crazy about dinosaurs and fossils. He's been planning his birthday party for 3 months and wants a dead-meat cake and a T-Rex cake.
We have been working with a counselor for a few months because he is so anxious. She is lovely and assures us that he is a wonderfully wired, carefully created mystery who will become an amazing grown up. She says it's like Einstein... beautiful and strange and misunderstood. So we work on creating a safe world and on teaching those around him how to see him for who he is, and be patient with space, time and expectations so that he can be himself comfortably. We let him build nests (literally!) all over the house, cuddle in and soothe himself with his blankets and safe corners of the world.
He is especially good at finding and exploiting grey areas of the rules. He is an excellent negotiater, and can often craft an argument that will get him out of trouble. His memory always surprises me, but hasn't yet taught me to be careful of what I say to him!
Right now, he is full of separation anxiety. His world doesn't seem safe and he wants mommy to help him out. He wants to be cared for and carried. He creeps into my bed at 5 in the morning because all night in bed has given him too much space and aloneness. His tummy keeps him up all night before a school day, and sometimes makes it hard for him to eat.
Between the fears and the pain is my sweet and smart little boy, just being himself. David sees his shyness, and right away recognizes the pain of a shy childhood. I am still trying to remember that he is just small and shy and smart enough to know that so many things are out of his control.