My mother says that I was given Beara because the universe has a well-developed sense of irony; that I deserve her, since she is just like I was.
I remember being four, but not like this. She’s in constant motion, and in constant sound. Even if I was like that at four, I am most certainly not like that now; I crave quiet and stillness. (Yes, I chose to have three kids. Yes, I love their energy. Yes, I want to be able to get away from it sometimes.)
She literally makes noise just to have something to listen to. She knows that it bugs me when she does marathons of talking without saying anything, so she’s taken to sticking her fingers in her ears to quiet the scat and staccato she can’t seem to stop creating, as if that will stop me from hearing it as well. (Or she does it so she can pretend that she doesn’t hear me asking, begging, and yelling for her to knock it off.) Until this last week, when I finally said I found it rude and to quit it, she started a musical toy going every night right as I started to read them their bedtime story. She’ll turn the TV on, then go play on the computer with the speakers turned up. Meanwhile, I can’t sleep if Daddyman decides to do dishes or laundry at midnight.
She does laps around our circular plan house, either running, jumping on her bouncy ball, or using a riding toy, pulling a wagon, etc. She jumps up and down off the beds and furniture, and has no concept that I am not a piece of it, or that jumping on/off me *hurts*, no matter how often Daddyman and I try to explain it to her. She has the top bunk of her and Big D’s bed, and is up and down the ladder all day long. She’s a clothes horse, sometimes changing her outfit half a dozen times a day. We hook her up with active games on the Wii every time she asks, including right in the midst of this morning’s homeschooling time; if she needs to move that badly, letting her do it all in one place works better for everyone. (Yes, it derailed all of us, but it didn’t escalate all of us, so I’m still happy with the outcome.)
No, she doesn’t have ADHD, even if I was thoroughly convinced that it exists, which I’m not. (A kid who is inattentive and acting up in school might just be bored, folks.) She doesn’t have the inattentive part of the equation. More likely is that she has a sensory processing issue, as might I, if opposite in expression, but her incessant vocalizations and motion get to Daddyman, too, and I doubt he has sensory issues at all. (I have no idea if they bug her siblings; their relationships are harder for me to interpret.) Most likely is that she’s just an energetic four year old who is completely normal in driving her parents bananas.
And yes, that *does* help me deal with it to some extent; she will be five (too) soon, and then six, and seven before I know it. She may continue to be a talkative and active kid, or she may not. That said, Daddyman and I need to figure out some better ways to parent her NOW. We lose our patience with her, and then the whole thing escalates out of proportion, and this is happening at least a half dozen times a day.
The advice in Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students on pages 89-91 is categorically unuseful: “developing a word to cue the child when he is talking too much can be highly effective in teaching the child to monitor that aspect of his personality.” Really? We tell her, categorically (and rudely) to “STOP TALKING,” and she keeps right on going. Subtlety + 4 year old = waste of time, not that our way is working any better, unfortunately. (I’m still reading the book, so don’t judge it by this comment.)
Ergo, I continue to research, in the quiet moments I *do* have; to read, and to reflect on how to do this better. I also watch Beara, and open myself up to perceive what she has to teach me about her needs.
So far the only things I have figured out are these:
Let the kid play Wii when she wants to; moving in a predefined space, and in a prescribed way not only seems to scratch her itch to move, but also keeps it from ramping up in the way her more organically grown movements seem to do.
- Secondly, play the radio when she is talking so much that I’m losing it. If she doesn’t stop vocalizing, at least I can’t hear her very well, so the complete lack of any content (or even words!) in her speech doesn’t get on my nerves so much. Even better (and certainly more prosocial), she sometimes stops to dance (which is less annoying than her doing laps, as well as less likely to result in her breaking something), and I get to sing along and rock out a little, which is pretty much guaranteed to calm *me* down.
If anyone has other ideas for how to respect Beara for who she is, while simultaneously keeping the rest of us from going completely insane, I’d be delighted to hear them. Thanks!