Woke up this morning to a screaming banshee in Ellison’s room and found it a fitting morning to proceed with our “Spirited Toddler Quiz” series where we look at the characteristics of a “spirited” toddler and see if, in our diagnosis of Ellison, that she is indeed spirited. Today, the trait we’ll be examining is “sensitivity.” Now, I’m a sensitive guy, but it’s more on the level that I sweat profusely when I talk in public places, hear Beethoven’s ninth in the back of my head when I’m watching some nature show where a deer is being chased to the death by a large mountain lion, sometimes carry grudges against baseball players and can’t finish a wedding toast without sobbing like a two year old. I’m a sensitive guy. I raise my voice and talk with my hands. I believe the children are the future. But is that the “sensitive” we’re talking about here?
Researchers have observed great differences in how children react to the sights, sounds and smells around them. Some children seem unperturbed by scratchy clothes, loud noises, or funny smells, whereas others are extremely sensitive.
Spirited children are both with a super set of sensors. Althought many other kids can fall asleep in a room full of people, the spirited child stays wide awake taking in every sound and sight. Sleeping in a hotel or at Grandma’s house may be a difficult task. The sheets smell weird and the pillow doesn’t feel right. Sensitive kids also respond to emotions, serving as the family stress gauge. When you feel the worst, they’ll act the worst.
To the sensitive child, every experience is a sensory bombardment. He sees, hears and smells things that others–including his parents and siblings–might miss.
Gotcha. So this has nothing to do with crying at the end of the NCAA tournament montages? Crap. Kinda wish I could get that first paragraph back now.
Sensitivity, as it’s described to us here in the context of a spirited toddler deals much more with sensory. How in tune she is with things around here. Not necessarily those bearing emotional weight or gravity. Food textures, the way a sweater feels, bananas, styrofoam (my nemesis). Let’s take the quiz and see where Ellison falls.
Starting at the top, how well does she sleep through noise, thunderstorms or, in one case, a house alarm going off? I’m going to go ahead and score this one with a “2.” Her wake ups aren’t typically reactive to “sound” as best as we can figure out. She has slept through our frightening and deafening house alarm when Daddy accidentally set it off once. She’s never awoken during a thunderstorm. However, we’ve only had one or two sense she’s been born thanks to El Nina and this suffocating drought. Still, she might wake up to a creak in the floor in the hallway, but I’m saying it’s likely she wasn’t really sleeping if she reacts to that.
How about textures? As we’re figuring out with now wearing shoes more often, she doesn’t seem too affected by having them on her feet. Has adjusted well it seems to the sensation of walking on them. She wears varied pieces of clothing with very little resistance. Not a big fan of hats, but that’s more about visibility, methinks. I’m gonna score this one as a “1.”
How about smells? If my two ends of the scale are “isn’t bothered” and “gags easily,” I’m gonna go with “isn’t bothered.” I haven’t once seen this girl gag and given the evil that is hiding in the Diaper Genie right now, I’d say that smells aren’t much of an issue for her. Her father, however, sometimes dry heaves in the backyard still. If I come in looking like I’ve been crying, I’ve been scooping up the backyard. Score it a “1.”
That brings us to, ah, the “picky eater” assessment. My lovely wife will tell you: she’s the pickiest eater out there. Actually, her brother might have her beat. Burgers come with lettuce and cheese only. Mexican food is largely out of the question. Salsa has to be mild and soupy. She’s doing a lot better with Ellison around attempting to eat a new vegetable every week. I commend her on that. I, however, will eat anything so long as it’s cooked right. Ellison definitely takes more after her daddy in that regard. She eats with very little discretion. There are a few things that get rejected as she just simply pushes it out with her tongue, but I’d say that she’s 85-90% effective garbage disposal. We just switched to soy milk and she drinks it like a fish. No issues. I’m gonna score this one a “2.”
Now, how aware is Ellison of her family’s stress level? This one’s tricky. It’s a “chicken/egg” equation for me. Am I stressed because of how she’s acting or is she acting this way because I’m stressed? I do find correlations between how she acts, though, and how I feel. I’m not positive it’s her sensitivity or intuition or just Daddy reading too far into things again. We’ll shoot middle of the scale on this one with a “3.”
Lastly, how concerned is the kiddo with “how things feel” overall? I’d say her overall temperament in this category is fairly low on the scale. Air temperature, West Texas wind gusts, Daddy blowing in her ear, cold tile floors, grass, water, new car seats, car seat straps or mushed apples and pears don’t really trigger much for her. She can sleep with the fan on or off. Door open or closed. She’s slept through house alarms, barking dogs, blazing funk, gunfire (kidding). I’m gonna score her overall as a “2.”
So if we tally up the score on sensitivity, our average is 1.83. Fairly low. What this didn’t really account for is when she falls sometimes or if you put her down, she comes unraveled and starts screaming for minutes sometimes. When she’s away from Mommy, she’s sometimes on a hair trigger. But given the outline provided, we’re scoring her a 1.83. And if you’re scoring at home, that brings our overall average to 9.16 outta 15 or an average scale score of 3.05…just past midway. Not overwhelming evidence of being “spirited,” but still a valid argument.
I’m gonna go cry now while watching the SPCA Sarah McLachlan TV spots. Leave me alone.