I wonder how many parents out there have children like my older daughter. She was born bright, inquisitive and sensitive. She really did come out looking around and listening and didn't cry. At least, not exactly then. She made up for that later! What I didn't understand at that time and for some time afterward, is that I had given birth to what they call a "high needs" child. I prefer to call her sensitive. It somehow seems less negative. Right off the bat, the nurses called Melissa "fussy" and wanted to give her a soother. I said no because we were battling with a lazy latch and a host of other issues. Breast feeding, while natural, did not come easily to me and my sweet baby. I could see from those early days that this was going to be a child for whom I would be advocating for many years. My doctor saw it too. She was protective of her and didn't particularly care for the way the nurses talked about her. She was small, six and a half pounds, but not overly tiny. She needed more holding and cuddling than many babies and she did not like sleep. Oh yes. Sleep. She will be eighteen this fall and still does not like sleep. So here I was, a single mother of just 22 years (Miss was born a week after my birthday!) with a wee babe who had a hard time nursing and hated to sleep.
Knowing her the way I do now, and after years of being her mom, I can see that the poor child had an easily upset tummy and a nervous personality. This was something she did temporarily outgrow in her preschool years, but the system, a series of teachers who probably should have been retired and the deaths of several close family members took care of that. In her early high school years, my outgoing, artsy, sweet child became a child who did not wear color and was frequently depressed. We loved her through that stage and she has worked hard the last two years at finding out who she is independent of others. She still struggles a little with what people think, but a small group of reliable friends has really helped her there.
Fast forward to this year, her grad year. People put an awful lot of pressure on young adults to have their lives figured out. And now, the province of BC has added a program which, in my opinion, does not help children with personalities like my daughter's. If anything, this plan to help them has added tremendous stress to her life. Unfortunately, her response to stress is to hide and so this series of activities had built up until she was overwhelmed by them. Just today I had to go in and explain to a counsellor that my child has lost sleep this year in fear over grad, people's expectations and an uncertain future. I don't know if I know how to help her except by just being here for her. It's a pretty uncertain world out there.