Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Saturday's Child

The kind amongst us call them spirited children. The pitiless call them overactive. But whatever nomenclature one might use, it doesn’t really change the truth about kids like Chip. They are full of energy. They are high need, high maintenance children. Mentally, physically, emotionally. Triple whammy. It is enough to make you loose your mind on most days.

I suppose I knew Chip wasn’t like other babies the minute he was born. No exaggeration. The minute he was extracted from my womb he let out a cry so loud that my ears blacked out for a second. I had never thought a newborn could cry out with such intensity. But he did. And that would be the definition of Chip in one word. Intense.

He cried intensely. Hated to be constrained. When he was a few days old, he managed to wriggle his arm out of the snugly bound blanket. Kicked furiously- at what became a daily game- when he was about three months old, at the colorful store ads draped over his rocker bar until each one was vigorously tossed to the floor. Began doing his famous tummy slide at 9 months to get down the stairs. Light sleeper. We would be literally walking on eggshells when Chip was napping. The slightest sound would wake him up. Voracious eater. Hard to pacify. Ultra sensitive and fearful of sounds. Intent observer. He looked around with such curious interest that perfect strangers in restaurants and elevators would comment on how he was drinking in everything with his eyes or joke about boring a hole if he continued to look with such intensity. He would not only identify objects in books at 10mo but would also pick the correct book from half a dozen books that contained the said object. He knew his way around the mall at 18mo, knew how to get home from three different routes from an intersection two miles away. I think every time he enters a space, he makes a mental note of the exits, furniture, rooms, layout, fixtures, contents of closets and shelves and stores them away for I don’t know what. And every once in a while he references them. In the oddest of times and places.

He also has a wicked temper and is prone to tantrums. Has a hard time sharing things and transitioning from one activity to another. Stubborn. Very, very stubborn. Always wants his own way and will struggle passionately to get what he wants. Will not accept anything without a reason. An authoritative “because I said so” never cuts with him. He needs explanations, reasons. Why. When. How. Where. All kids are like that, aren’t they? Sure. But with kids like Chip, everything is amplified. It’s just more of everything. More hugs and kisses, but also more whining and tantrums. More stubborn, more persistent. More driven. More running, more jumping, more appetite. Hard to fool. Deep belly laughs. Loud tears. Dazzling memory. Hard to please. Focused. Impatient. Affectionate. Demanding. Trying. Persistent. Exacting. Insistent. Fastidious. It’s not easy. If handling your average toddler is a roller coaster ride, this is bungee jumping.

Had this been a second child, I probably would have handled it better. Or so I always think. Simply because I would not have doubted many things about me as a mother. Everyday I fear that his teacher is going to ask for a meeting and tell me he needs to be evaluated for ADD/ADHD. While other kids sit quietly when told so without questioning, Chip doesn’t. On the one hand I feel he is blessed to have so much energy within him. But it’s frightening as hell too. Because on some days it feels like I have absolutely no influence whatsoever over him. He descends like a tempest, leaving a dreadful wake behind him. On those days I bite my tongue, give him hugs aplenty and pull out my patience. And quietly wonder what magical powers did mothers of the likes of Edison had. To have such tremendous faith in their own child and to guide them. Because, what happens if Chip never finds his calling?


noon said...

I can picture all of this...I have a friend whose son is the same way. She takes him swimming 4-5 days a week just to let him expend his excessive energy. She tires out in the process but he is fresh as ever! One of my nephews was the same way - he would walk into the house like a storm! Now he is a calm, very responsible and very loving and giving person...I can imagine Chip becoming like him. And of course he will find his calling! :)

i love said...

I am in no way qualified to answer your question and hence shall refrain from doing so.But this post made for an interesting read,I could just imagine bright-eyed Chip doing all the things that you mentioned.
I am still working on that email that I need to send to you.Will do so soon.

Moppet's Mom said...

I can relate. Moppet is an exhausting child too, although probably not so much as you've described Chip here. But enough so that we had to think very, very hard before we decided to go ahead and have another baby.

I just remind myself that these traits, which can be so scary and frustrating today, will stand her in good stead when she's older. I hope!

Preethi said...

:) Chip seems like a smart kid with his observation and geographical sense.. you like every mom are probably worrying too much.. he is still a toddler and all toddlers are handfuls some more apparent than the other.. don't worry... he will grow up!! :P

Suki said...

That Chip is a character all right! I would LOVE to meet him, and yes babysit him for... erm... upto a week?(Hey, I'm being honest here and admitting that I do have a Freud.. umm.. life!)

Given the right support, which I'm sure he's getting from you and his dad, he's sure to become an exceptional person in the right way :). Trust in him, in yourself, in God. Given a mind of his own, the boy will find his calling.

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

You just described T1 in her first 2-3 years with one difference. She was good, but nowhere close to Chip with regard to his sense of direction!
She has come a LONG way since then! Bu she has trouble sharing (esply with T2), and gets in trouble for goofing around in class during quiet time!
I agree it's not easy! Not one bit.
But hang in there, before you know it, things will change and he will be old enough to join sport leagues or read books...and you're gonna start missing this age (rings a bell to me)!

DotMom said...

noon: see? examples like this make me feel better..only if i could look into the future!

i love: thanks!!

moppet's mom: I have a friend whose son (a few years older than Chip) is just as active... They waited a LONG time to have another one..

preethi: true

suki: really? ok.. I am dumping him with you for a week and turning off my cell phone :)

gnd: i'll take t1 for Chip. ANYTIME. i'll even trade t1+t2 for Chip :) Don't tell me you are missing this age. hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

DotMom : I didnt yet read the post but based on your comments, i can say T was just the same as Chip, still he is no easier now. He was on timeout till last week, every day of the class. I have been specially called in by all teachers of his different school to tell me that he is a stubborn child. He is very active, restless and nothing tires him out, nothing !!. I started all these activities as a way to be a bystander when someone else was dealing with him. His teachers have told me : 'They(children, specifically T) are not angels, we ARE !! T can be irritating, infuriating, annoying, his latest is whining , at his best. !! But things have gotten so much better, so so much better, just to be landed with another problem, but definitely, really :), so much better !!. Before, we cannot just do anything with him around, loading the dishwasher, vacuuming, taking a picture, taking a video, calling on the phone, cellphone, or TV. He would need everything of those and will have his own agenda with those. !!. Phew, just thinking of T in those ages exhaust me. I always say , i had T, just to appreciate my twin daughters !!.

Anonymous said...

I just read the article, lovely post, something your child would love to know about himself as a child, when he is older. Written so well, how could you, how can you find so many ways to describe one child ?:) !!. Sounds just like T, the stubbornness at wanting everything, the restless energy, always on the go, cannot be curtailed in a stroller or a cart, has to be running in the malls. T has been communicating his sense of direction only recently, but now that i think of it, it must have always been there. One thing that i would have done differently with T is, his ability to talk. I would have put in ear tubes much earlier, which would have had him hearing and hence talking much quickly. He started talking just before turning 3.

ddmom said...

Hey, Chip is definitely a super intelligent and smart kid for his age. What do you expect the bi-product of 2 super intelligent geeks? Me thinks, most intelligent people are intense. And the intensity shows both in negative and positive behaviors. And in the form of energy :)
As preethi says, like many other moms, you are probably just reading too much into it.
Sure, he will find his calling :)

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

You'll take T1 now...Before she turned 3 the story was completely different! suddenly, it was like a magical switch turned ON and T1became so much more easy.
Some kids take longer than others to get to that magical switch, and there's always a new and completely different challenge that comes up when one goes away.

Remember about the stranger-shyness when Chip was little?
It's all gone now, see?
We just gotta hang in there (I know it's Easier said than done) and a lucky some of us can blog it all out!

Yes, I do miss, not the whole stress thing, but the innocent and cute-sies of toddlerhood! That'll never come back!!!!

Anonymous said...


I am an anonymous admirer of your writing. Very honest and thought provoking and hence valuable articles to your readers. I was very touched by these lines:
"On those days I bite my tongue, give him hugs aplenty and pull out my patience." I have two older kids and they have been active kids always. This morning they were getting ready for school and chattering away and running and playing at 7:00 in the morning and I had to scold them both. I just couldn't handle all the commotion at such a busy time in the morning...and was loosing patience really quick and now feeling guilty about it.

Children seem to be big kids and little kids at the same time. I hope to keep your words in mind when I really need patience...

Chip just seems so adorable. You are an awesome mother and I am very sure he is and will be an awesome child as he grows older.

~nm said...

Tagged you! Pick it up from here... :D

Rohini said...

If I was one of those people who seal what others have written (I know there is a term for them but I just can't think of it right now - plgiarists? copycats?), I could just take this whole post, replace 'Chip' with 'Ayaan' and yet every word would be true. Including and especially the ADHD fear...

Rohini said...

If I was one of those people who seal what others have written (I know there is a term for them but I just can't think of it right now - plgiarists? copycats?), I could just take this whole post, replace 'Chip' with 'Ayaan' and yet every word would be true. Including and especially the ADHD fear...

Vinita said...

Hmm very intense and energetic post. Reading the post itself made me feel as though I was on a roller coaster. SO while writing the post you must be like a live wire.

I can understand your fears about ADD/ADHD. Most teachers who are not able to handle high energy kids try to find and easy way out by suggesting this route. You as a mom remain firm (if at all something like this is suggested).
All you need to do is channel this energy. He is a gifted child.
You are a great mom..believe in yourself.


rayshma said...

i am SO unqualified to answer this.. but will quote something i overheard my bhabhi say *she has 2 "spirited" daughters!*
she sed it's not about having faith, it's about knowing that there's nothing u can do except be there to guide them when they ask u, and support them when they need to be.

DotMom said...

taamommy: "Before, we cannot just do anything with him around, loading the dishwasher, vacuuming, taking a picture, taking a video, calling on the phone, cellphone, or TV. " - you said it. that defines chip. he has his own agenda with everything. he is not the kind to go with the flow!

ddmom: I don't know about that :)Intensity is such a double edged sword though.

gnd: true about his stranger panis.. shyness is a very mild word for what Chip experienced :) I wonder what it would be to really peer into his mind. what does he think? or rather does he think at all? gnd.. you need to have another baby now :)

anon: Thanks so much for visting and leaving a lovely comment. I can't believe you actually find my ramblings valuable :) Chip did the same thing today. I was already late for work, but he just wanted to play "soccer" before going to school!! and anon, truth be told, I do fly off my handle...I have learnt this the hard way.. the past few months I had not been an example of a patient mom.

~nm: will do it nm!

rohini: you can steal this post and substitute aayan for Chip. really. we are comrades in arms here :)

vinita: that's what my mom (who is a teacher) says. I really need to reamin firm on this one. He will hopefully outgrow this.

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

In your defense (about your lack of patience), the past few months have been anything but easy for you! The way you are pulling thru is simply amazing! Be proud of yourself.
and remember, no more talk about T3:)

DotMom said...

rayshma: I like your bhabis take.. come to think of it that so true.. thank her gor me for that nugget, will ya?

gnd: you are being charitable. And making a virtue of a necessity. and what, no t3?? how will t2 learn to be a big sis then ?:)

Usha said...

I became breathless just reading your account of the level of his energy. I think he is like all precocious children - they need a lot more activity than children of their age. And with open minded intelligent caring parents like you, he is bound to find his right calling - rest assured.

Mystic Margarita said...

I can soo relate to this post because Popol is very similar to Chip going by the incidents you mention. He has been highly active from day one and already I see a very stubborn streak in him - he's a very friendly and happy child, but prone to tantrums a little too intense for his age. I'll need lots of tips from you :)

karmickids said...

Oh Dotmom, biggggg hugggg. To me handling my child has been the most humbling experience ever, me, who always assumed I was the take charge, have it all under control, expert at disaster management person called on by management everytime to handle crisis. I am not able to handle the brat. He has so much energy, so much angst, anger, temper and volatility that he humbles me. I feel for you. But I do know, its kids like the brat and Chip who have powerhouses in their brains and it is upto us to help them make the most of it.

Neera said...

"Hard to fool. Dazzling memory. Hard to please. Focused. Affectionate. Demanding. Trying. Persistent. Exacting. Insistent. Fastidious."

Just imagine all this in a 20 something year old. Bang on!! Right?! Just the characteristics we strive so hard to inculcate in kids in the long run. I can't even begin to think where Chip would be then. Hang on and have faith.

One thing, however, I would like to be enlightened on. Once a child is assessed and diagnosed with ADHD, the special ed that follows, is it for the better or the worse, esp for kids who, is evident, are quite intelligent?

DotMom said...

usha: Thanks..I guess it so much a challenge to channel it at this age!

mystic: hahahha. I suppose it gets better when they turn 3. Atleast the threats work aat times!

karmic: it is.. but why us?

neera: OMG. OMG. I don't know what to say except give profuse thanks for a 180 degree opposite point of view. THANKS. I am confused about ADHD. Most of the times, all these kids need is a bit of a patience and help with dyspexia etc. The diagnosis is aminly reached by talking to teachers and parents. there is no test. I am sure the extra attention in school will be beneficial to the kids.. I am not so sure about the social consequences of being "different" being left out.

Neera said...

Hmmm ...Well I know a couple of things about where I am in the twin cities, MN :

1. there are schools (well pre-schools actually) where the spl ed children are in the same classroom as the rest of the kids. There are spl ed trs and spl ed para-professionals to help out these kids. This results in an excellent teacher student ratio which is beneficial ultimately for all the kids and no one is left out. This according to me is the ideal situation.

2. Even if the spl ed kids are taken out and given specialized instruction, the goal, at the end of the day is to integrate them with the mainstream. I don't know any ADHD specific case, but I do have friends (Americans) whose kids go for speech classes/spl ed due to Aspergers and the like and all of them are very open about it and have very good things to say about all these. So much so, that when Vansh turned 2, I called the speech spl ed program people myself to come and assess him for his speech development and take him if the need be. Unfortunately, he didn't qualify :(

Why am I telling u all this? Even though as a a parent you hope for the best but its good to know all possible options and be open about them. Had it been in India, things would have been different, I agree. Thankfully this one is a much more accepting and pro-active society in these matters! And you, I know, don't care about what people say ;) The child, you know best, but this is what I am thinking - would he/she really understand that (s)he is going to a 'different' class or just a class full of children. And hopefully he would have graduated to mainstream by the time he does understand.

DotMom said...

aspergers/autism is a serious disorder. and should be handled differently than overactive kids. Ditto speech problems. What is mainstream? kids who sit quietly in class for extended periods without wanting any stimulation? What about very shy kids? are they mainstream or not? On one level every child is unique.I feel as long as the child is keeping with the class there should not be a need for special intervention. Only when they fail in keeping with the rest of the class is when it is required. As I have often told to Karmickids (Kiran), my brother and my husband were both high energy kids. My husband needs something hands on to do every minute of the day. My brother had minor dyslexia. 30 years ago, ADHD was unheard of. High energy kids were just given more work or told to enroll in sports (my mom, a teacher - her favorite was to ask the kids to go take a run before classes started and burn that energy) But coming back to the point. My brother quietended down as he hit puberty (as many ADHD kids do). All that fidgety-ness was turned inwards and he could study/read/solve a problem 6-8 hours without getting up. He graduated in the top three while doing CA and graduated top of the class for his MBA. Both my husband and my brother are well adjusted people. They are still high energy and I do get tired from just trying to keep up with my husband, but they are doing exceeding good at their careers. I always wonder what would have happened if they had been labelled as problem kids unfit for mainstream. I wonder if that could have given rise to some anger which combined with the high drive and energy could have been disastrous.

DotMom said...

neera: also, were you really serious when you expressed regret that your son did not qualify for a speech therapy program??? most mothers would be relieved.

Neera said...

I absolutely agree with you. I was a teacher myself for 6 and 7 grade students in India and thats what I did myself. Even though I was tempted to refer a couple of students to the spl ed counsellor to make life simpler in class but obviously that would have been unfair. I worked my way through physical exercise, extra worksheets, talks at a personal level if a child was particularly disruptive and unmindful of others in class on a continuing basis and so on. And I still had a lot to learn on dealing with those power packed kids. And to be honest, even though I had to reprimand them, at times, in all fairness to ther kids, in my heart of hearts I loved them for their smartness.

Well as for speech therapy, a part of me was definitely relieved, almost proud that he didn't qualify but I have seen children who did and with the extra help have benefitted tremendously and have gone on to become very good at communication, reading and so on, better than the rest, believe me. Thats what tempted me to be able to utilize that benefit if he needed it. Children with Speech problem/dyslexia/ADHD are only different kids (above average intelligence more often than not) in the sense in which they process information. So if a specialist who can understand that difference and has specific activities/ways to be able to help the child and actually help him/her perform to the best of his/her capability, why not give it a chance! But before all this, correct diagnosis is the key, no second opinion about that.

Parul said...

I am really, really scared after reading this post. It sounds uncannily like Adi. Oh my god, what I am going to do???????

Amber Alfaro said...

My 2nd daughter is the same way...she has SOOO much energy. My oldest was the opposite..calm, quiet, reserved..and this one is off the hook. :-) We just have to find ways to let all the energy get spent. :-)

Squiggles Mom said...

He's clearly gifted DotMom. I know that it's probably exhausting but it's also exciting just thinking about the creative things he's going to come up with as he grows. You'll find a way of keeping all the energy channeled without driving yourself crazy.

Squiggles is very active and constantly on the move with not more than an hour of daytime sleeping spread over 3-4 naps. I guess we take it as it comes.

bird's eye view said...

Chubbocks is a Saturday's Child too...has the same powers of observation, and as for should read my post on the terrible twos...Oh well, we console ourselves...the astrologer did say he was going to be a royal philosopher:)

the mad momma said...

i read this post long ago and meant to comment. i'll have to add the brat to this list. i NEED to take him out of the house simply because the energy levels are deafening. i think its a first child thing plus a boy thing.. if i had to spot a trend. if not.. i'd say you, me and Ro are just blessed ppl. i think such kids are extremely bright. we need to find a way to channel it without killing it.... he WILL find his calling. why do u think i am so worried abt school for the brat? i dont want all this killed yb the indian schoolng system. a good caning and he'll never find his calling.

mummyjaan said...

Uh-oh; I'm with you; all ears. You could have been writing about my Apya (my first one) except for a few things. Right from the first lusty scream in the OT which her dad and I still remember, she's been an intense bundle of energy. And I can't believe you have also used the term intense so many times in your post.

Well, I wrote a post in the last couple of days because I've been feeling a little lost lately; the thing is, my girl is about 5 years old now and I was really hoping she would 'calm down' by now; but she hasn't.

I know there's nothing 'wrong' with her; she's just different, and although I can figure her out some days, on other days all we seem to have is one long series of tussles over completely minor things. She sulks, pouts, fights over little things that other children wouldn't even bother about. As she is growing older, she is also becoming much much 'bolder'. Bold kids don't bring out the best in parents, do they? Apya has a great deal of energy; and sadly that energy these days is being misplaced in useless things to quibble about. These things end up draining *my* energy and turning *her* into a sourpuss and a grump.

Now I've gone though some comments, not all. Heck, Dottie, we need to talk to each other about our children once in a while.

I came here looking for a review of a book on spirited children which I think you did; or was it on Desimomzclub? Please do let me know.

mummyjaan said...

...and you know what, I'm nearly sure I read this post of yours before, but today, every line jumped out at me.

DotThoughts said...

lol. they certainly aren't the easiest children to raise, but their energy makes them fun and exasperating at the same time. the book is called "Raising you spirited child"

Its a life saver.

Anonymous said...

I came here from Desimomz, I have a 2 yr old who is exactly like your Chip. It was good to read your post. One thing which calms him down most of the evenings when he is back from daycare is a nice long warm bath. He seems to behave well after a bath.

Just wanted to ask you - how's Chip now ? still the same spirited child (asking you this since the post was written when he was about 3)

DotThoughts said...

Kavita: Yes, he is. The expresion has changed. From physical tantrums, its verbal arguing now :) But yes, he is still an intense child, high-energy.. but I think as he grows older, I can channelize that energy. 3 and younger its hard to direct them.