My kids are so different from one another. One’s an introvert; the other’s an extrovert. One’s quiet and calm; the other’s rowdy and loud. One excels at math; the other in reading. One likes chocolate; the other doesn’t. (I know! What kid doesn’t like chocolate?!?)
So it stands to reason that, when trying to maneuver the everyday sensory playground of life, they would be like night and day. Right? For instance…
Munchkin never realizes he’s hungry. You have to force him to eat. Wait, scratch that. We strongly encourage him to eat. (You can’t force that kid to do anything!) Mostly, we bribe him. Squirrel never realizes when she’s full. She eats until she’s sick, so we have to remind her to pay attention to what her tummy’s telling her.
Squirrel will hold her bladder all day. As a tot, she would refuse to use the toilet for the entire 8 hours at daycare. Munchkin does not even realize he needs to go until it starts to trickle out. Then everyone needs to move out of his way so he can make it to the potty! At six, we still have a bunch of potty accidents.
Munchkin often doesn’t realize he’s hurt, even as blood rolls down his leg and soaks his sock. But Squirrel has zero pain tolerance. She cries when someone accidentally brushes her walking past.
Squirrel holds her pencil so loosely that she sometimes drops it. Munchkin holds his in a death grip. (They both have atrocious handwriting, though!)
Munchkin grabs your hand in a knuckle-crushing way to cross the street. Squirrel says you’re hurting her if you hold her hand.
Squirrel doesn’t like hugs. She will back up to someone who wants to give her a hug, and let them hug her from behind. Munchkin throws himself into every hug, squeezing as tight as he can and smashing his body against yours.
Squirrel can swing at the park for hours. Munchkin hates the back and forth motion of the swing. He prefers to try to climb the swing’s frame.
Munchkin loves to fling himself backwards when you hold him, hang upside-down from the monkey bars, and flip over the handle bar on the trampoline. Squirrel hates to be picked up or turned upside-down. She gets scared by the out-of-control feeling it induces in her.
Squirrel never spins. She gets dizzy very easily. Munchkin spins all the time. All. The. Time.
Squirrel will eat almost anything you give her, as long as it’s not too spicy or too savory. Munchkin will only eat foods that are room-temperature, of a smooth-lumpy-or-soft texture, have little or no seasoning, and are very easy to chew.
Munchkin absolutely freaks out when you touch his hair. Haircuts are painful to him. Showering is distressful. Squirrel loves it when you stroke or brush her hair. It’s very comforting to her.
Squirrel also loves it when you rub her back or softly rub her arms. And she likes to rub her cheeks against your skin. Munchkin can’t stand soft touches–he says they make him itchy. He needs firm pressure when you touch him.
Squirrel doesn’t like tags on clothes or seams on socks. Munchkin could care less about those things, but he won’t wear pants that button or zip. Squirrel likes to strip as soon as she’s home from school and wrap up in a blanket. Munchkin sleeps in his clothes rather than changing into pajamas.
Munchkin is oblivious to even the strongest odors. Squirrel notices everything–even the faintest odors–and has strong opinions about good and bad smells.
Squirrel has visual-tracking issues. Sometimes her eyes see everything fine, but don’t send the full message to her brain. Other times her eyes don’t move back and forth together like they should, so her brain gets confused and loses the message. So she doesn’t comprehend what she reads always, because she hasn’t read every word. She looks for something and doesn’t realize she’s staring right at it. Munchkin sees everything. And he loves to look at things in different ways. He likes to use binoculars, sunglasses, magnifying glasses, and color viewers to see how he can change the way things look.
Munchkin hears everything, and reacts to everything. He freaks out at unexpected noises, and covers his ears at loud or obnoxious noises. He can’t stand the sound of crying, sirens, school fire alarms, and motors. Places like theaters, where sounds echo and bounce around, are torturous to him. He can’t distinguish voices from other sounds, so he has trouble listening to you in a place with background noises. He can’t understand what you’re saying unless he can also see your mouth move. The only sounds that really bother Squirrel are ear-piercing, shrill ones. Munchkin loves to make that kind of sound. Especially if he’s in a tease-your-sister kind of mood.
Ah, yes. Night and day. Oh, that reminds me…one sleeps through the night. One still doesn’t.