It’s glaringly obvious to me lately that Rowan has three different personalities. Just like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but including Mr. Hyde’s sad cousin. I don’t know if this is normal for SPD kids, but I do know that with the changes starting to happen in this house as fall schedules approach, it’s like spinning a roulette wheel several times a day, waiting to see what you’ll get with each change or transition.
Will it be Rowan Number One? This is the cute, happy, giggly, smiley dude that makes the old ladies in the grocery store melt. This Rowan gives out copious amounts of hugs, loves to help, listens, chatters incessantly and pretty much all around makes my heart melt. He appears to be a normal, well-adjusted four year old. This Rowan, fortunately, seems to be the one he’s bringing to preschool most days. I am thankful for that. I do wish he’d hang out here more often though. I hate to pick favorites among my son’s split personalities, but I have to admit, this one is my favorite.
Oh, wait, it looks like Rowan Number Two. This one, I have the most sympathy for. This little guy appears when there is something scary, especially a loud noise. He does not like changes in plans or schedules. He is generally very, very sad or so upset he’s been known to scream until the capillaries break on his cheeks. I can see the loss of control and the flailing to get it back. This Rowan makes me feel sad and helpless. Fortunately, as Rowan becomes so very verbal, we see this guy less.
Or…is it the Dreaded Rowan Number Three? Also known as Naughty Rowan or Rowan in Monkey Mode. This one can unfold three loads of laundry in 30 seconds, thinks pulling on the dog’s ear until he yelps is SUPER hilarious, and will squirt a bottle of lotion on the floor to skate in. This Rowan will NOT be redirected (he doesn’t even like social stories), will laugh when you scold him and runs away when he knows he’s being naughty. He generally makes my blood boil and makes me look like a Bad Parent in public. He has been showing up around here a lot lately and he is NOT welcome.
Who am I kidding? They are all part of the child I love, and need to be accepted. I know who they are in OT language and what it means in the book: Number One is what we strive for, Number Two is sensory avoiding, and Number Three is sensory seeking. Easy to read about and understand in a book, but hard to live with.
As I anticipate changes ahead in the next month, I also full on expect this to become harder for a while. And then, it will level off again as we navigate the ups and downs of living with SPD. I always used to tell myself that the traits you want in an adult are really hard to have in a young child: curiosity, passion, determination, the ability to take risks and test boundaries. Then add in the fact that Rowan is so sensitive, and, according to his ECFE teacher a couple of years ago, “feels feelings bigger than most people.” I believe these traits WILL serve him well as an adult – the world is in need of more sensitive souls who can see the world in a different way.
My little package of personalities is a gift, as hard as it is to live with parts of it. I continue to focus on the lessons I can learn during the tough times, celebrate the huge gains we’ve made, and grab the hugs when they are being doled out.