The Watchful Buddha Boy
Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I remember being seven months pregnant and worried that my unborn son might be deaf. I had been to a drumming workshop, and rather than leaping around to the rhythm, as all the books said he should, my normally active baby was deathly still.
Three months later I learnt why. I had a highly sensitive, watchful baby. He did not react or respond to new sounds or sights, but watched, intently, Buddha-like in his serenity, until he was sure he had the measure of them, then smiles and gurgles a plenty.
In his toddler years this little boy commented every time the fridge or boiler clicked on or off, or a plane flew overhead. Whilst the rest of the children in toddler group raced and banged and whooped, he stood aside and observed the madness, noting the tiny wind propeller on the top of the boat’s mast outside the hall window.
His modus operandi was always the same: watch, wait and then quietly, gently make his move, carefully, with intent focus. For a while I worried that he was autistic, or something more than just shy or quiet.
I watched him watching the world. Learning his cues, his interests, his fears. There was nothing “wrong” with him in any way. Though the world seemed intent on telling me so. “How will he manage at school?” a friend asked. Wait and see, was my reply. We have to let him unfurl in his own time.
And that’s exactly what we did, with gentleness and patience, quietly being with him, helping him learn to challenge himself, but within his limits. Not pushing or forcing, but helping him to ease his way into the world as himself.
The reason we had absolute faith is that he has always been so affectionate, lively and responsive at home. He was quick to walk and learnt to talk “on time”. He is a real little performer who loves interaction: with people he knows.
But in public we have a different child. In England he is classed as shy, a term I dislike. In Ireland, with a term I have always hated: “strange”. Strange means shy with strangers; for babies it means unwilling to be handed from person to person without making a fuss. For a baby to go off with a strangers as happily as with its own mother, that for me is strange. Strange means not smiling at anyone who pokes their face into yours, or their finger into your belly – I wouldn’t giggle if a random person did that to me. But then I’m a little “strange” too!
Having read the Highly Sensitive Person book when I was in university, and found it helpful in explaining many of my “differences”, my mother suggested I have a look at the Highly Sensitive Child. According to author Elaine Aron, 15-20% of children are HS, pointers include children who are labeled shy, fussy, faddy, colicky (tick), startle easily (tick), hate loud noises (tick), are hesitant in new situations (tick, tick), have issues with food (tick) amongst many others. The tone of this book is very much aimed at helping you to understand your child, not solve a “problem.” Aron is careful to stress the many positive characteristics of a sensitive individual.
Our culture is not set up for sensitivity: we are bombarded with noises, smells and visuals from birth; we are constantly over-stimulated in our consumer-driven society. Our society does not prize quietness and reflection, but action; not thought, but speech. It demands that our children endlessly socialise from the minute that they are born. We are encouraged to stimulate their senses endlessly to raise their IQs from birth, with flashing lights and noisy toys.
I am so happy that we trusted ourselves and learnt about him by watching him and listening to his very real and slightly different needs, rather than the nay-sayers voices which surrounded us with doubt and worry. I am so grateful for the guidance and wisdom from Aron’s book, which I recommend whole-heartedly to other parents. We have the most wonderful, sensitive, thriving boy we could wish for: our precious Buddha boy.
The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them (Paperback)
by Elaine N. Aron
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)
- Affection — Alicia at I Found My Feet has finally become a hugger and kisser, now she has someone sweet and small to snuggle with. (@aliciafagan)
- Learning from Daniel — Amy at Anktangle hopes that she and her husband will always be open to learning from their son. (@anktangle)
- Kids Cultivate Awareness of Universal Truths — From forgiveness to joy, Amy Phoenix at Innate Wholeness has become aware of deep truths that come naturally to children. (@InnateWholeness)
- What the Apple Teaches the Tree — Becky at Future Legacy has learned about imagination, forgiveness, and strength.
- A Lesson in Slowing Time — Bethy at Bounce Me To the Moon revels in the chance to just be with her baby.
- Learning From My Children: I Am So Honored — WAHM Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey is learning to choose tea parties over work. (@MyMotheringPath)
- P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E — Now that she’s a mother, Danielle at born.in.japan is finally learning about a personality trait she lacked. (@borninjp)
- Top 5 Homeschool Lessons My Children Taught Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares what she learned from homeschooling her (now grown) children. (@DebChitwood)
- Learning to Live in the Present By Looking to the Future — Dionna at Code Name: Mama finds the patience to be a gentle parent, because she knows how fleeting childhood really is. (@CodeNameMama)
- The watchful Buddha boy — At Dreaming Aloud, they are learning to cherish their thoughtful, sensitive child in a action-driven, noisy world. (@DreamingAloudNt)
- What My Children Taught Me — Dulce de Leche‘s children have taught her to value herself for the wonderful person and mother she is.
- Lessons from the First Year — Having a child made Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama realize that her decisions affect more than just herself. (@CrunchyishMama)
- Lessons from Loss — Erica at ChildOrganics learned so much from the love — and loss — of her sweet Bella, five years ago. (@ChildOrganics)
- The Socratic Baby — Erin at Multiple Musings has so-called “identical” twins to serve as a daily lesson in nature vs. nurture. (@ErinLittle)
- Learning to be a Mother — Farmer’s Daughter learned the type of patience that enabled her to calmly eat one-handed for months and change clothes seven times a day, before noon. (@FarmDaughter)
- A Few Things Being a Mom Has Taught Me — Heather at Musing Mommy shares the curious, hilarious, and sometimes Murphy’s Law-like tidbits we learn from our children. (@xakana)
- I Feel You — Motherhood has taught Jamey from At the Bee Hive empathy, and it extends beyond just her child. (@JameyBly)
- Lessons From My Child… — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares the inspiring ways she’s learned to expect the unexpected — and have a camera ready! (@imaftmummy)
- My child is my mirror — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama has seen herself in her children – and it’s not bad. (@crunchychewy)
- There is enough to go around… — Kellie at Our Mindful Life learned that love doesn’t diminish when it’s shared.
- Learning From Our Children, Every Day — Kimberly at Homeschooling in Nova Scotia, Canada is continually inspired by her children. (@UsborneBooksCB)
- Life Lessons From My Children — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood has learned that every slug is fascinating, doing the dishes is fun, and sharing a banana is a delight. (@crunchymamato2)
- Things I’ve Learned From My Children — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings uses pictures to share what she has learned from her children. (@sunfrog)
- Beyond the questions lies the answer — Lauren at Hobo Mama stopped wondering and started knowing — loving and liking our children comes naturally. (@Hobo_Mama)
- Learning from Children — Lily, aka Witch Mom, finds out just how enchanting balloons can be. (@LilyShahar)
- Lifelong Learning — Lindsay at Living in Harmony has learned that what works for one kid might not work for another. (@AttachedMama)
- Walking alongside my daughter — Lindsey at Mama Cum Laude is learning to give the clock less power over her family’s life.
- Things my baby taught me about me — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is proud of how she has grown as a mother. (@lvano)
- From my children, I have learned — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip has a litany of beautiful lessons, from selflessness to sleeplessness.
- The Little Things in Life — In a simple and lovely prose poem, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shows how adults worry about the wrong things and forget the little, important ones: watching ladybugs, jumping in leaves, cherishing each moment as it comes.
- The Virtues of Motherhood — Melissa at The New Mommy Files has had opportunities to learn from children as both a teacher and a mother. (@NewMommyFiles)
- My Kids Have Taught Me That It’s Time To Stop Blogging — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! has learned that childhoods fly by too fast to blog. We’ll miss your wonderful online presence, Melodie, and we wish you much peace and happiness. (@bfmom)
- Having Kids Has Taught me a Thing or Two — Michelle at The Parent Vortex learns all day long — from fun facts about hedgehogs to tying a complicated wrap with a screaming child and an audience. (@TheParentVortex)
- We Could All Learn from the Children — Momma Jorje takes time to get on the floor and play so that she can see the world through her child’s eyes.
- Teaching Forgiveness — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog has a daughter who’s taught her unconditional love — even when she feels like she does’t deserve it. (@littlegreenblog)
- Parenting as a joint venture — Olivia at Write About Birth appreciates watching the astonishing way her children learn. (@writeaboutbirth)
- Beginner’s Mind — Rachael at The Variegated Life learns from a child who builds bridges to nowhere, calls letter magnets his numbers, and insists dinnertime is truck time. (@RachaelNevins)
- A baby’s present — RS at A Haircut and a Shave presents a short poem on the differences between a baby’s mindfulness and ours.
- Self-Confidence Was Born With My Daughter — Sara at Halfway Crunchy learned to trust her instincts by responding to her child’s needs — and saw her self-confidence bloom.
- The Importance of Being Less Earnest — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante has one list of earnest and one list of silly things she has learned as a parent. (@seonaid_lee)
- Lessons my children have taught me — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes learned that attachment parenting was the best way to meet the needs of her child and herself. (@Sheryljesin)
- Till the water is clear — Stacy at Mama-Om learns that being present is the best present. (@mama_om)
- I Hold It — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has learned that the ability to communicate is much more important than the number of words a child knows.
- What My Children Taught Me About Letting Go — Summer at Finding Summer is learning from her kids to laugh in the face of heartache. (@summerminor)
- Finding My Tools — The Artsymama has applied some of what she’s learned as a mama in the classroom, with great results!