My spirited child.
Some of you may remember when Gus was an infant we did a baby group thing through a local nonprofit. Ten weeks of meetings with ten other families to talk about life changes and build some connections and comradery with other parents. It helped, we met some cool people, and I am glad we did it.
Going off of that experience we signed up for a Ones group through the same nonprofit. I had a work meeting the first session so last night was my first time – the group’s second meeting.
Y’all. My child is a lot.
Most of the interactions I have seen Gus in with other kids are one on one or “free form”, meaning they can do whatever they want. While this is kind of like that there is also some structure. There is a play room (staffed) for kids connected to the meeting room and an open door between so kids can come and go as they please. The biggest rule is that if they are eating anything they have to stay with a parent – the group meets during dinner time.
There are 6 other families in the class. One kid played in the play room the whole time (2 hrs). Three kids played in there most of the time with small, non disruptive checks ins with their parents. One kid sat quietly on mom’s lap the whole time. One kid was mainly with the parent and sometimes disruptive.
Then there was Gus. Gus ran back and forth between the two rooms all night. He wanted food and while we had some packed he had no interest in the “stay with parent to eat” rule and freaked when he could not take food with him. He climbed under tables, he tried to push over an easel, he found a stack of stuff in a corner and wedged himself in there tight to touch it all, he found a group of stuffed bears on top of a cabinet 8 feet off the ground that no one else saw and stood, pointing, yelling “bears!” for good portions of the night. He was non stop. He normally is but to watch him in a group of peers is alarming. He wasn’t really poorly behaved – there were a few shouting incidents (and an unfortunate kicking mishap detailed below) but for the most part he was just excitedly ready to touch everything that existed and get all the food he possibly could.
Other parents in the group talked about how their kids “get into everything” and then I watched one talking about it as her kid SAT ON HER LAP FOR TWO HOURS. Gus could not handle sitting on my lap for three songs at the end. I just looked at her wide eyed. Your kid gets into everything? Are you leaving them home alone for long periods of time unattended? At one point her kid laid on the floor and Gus yelled “BALL!” and went over and kicked him in the head repeatedly until one of us got there. Honest mistake, right?
I’ve always known Gus is a bit more than other kids and not thought much of it but yesterday I felt the eyes. I felt the parents look at my child and look at us and I felt like my kid was not normal. And it sucked. I asked about it in an online parent group and while I got a few “my kid was like that and now has ____” (which you get anytime you ask a question) I got a lot of folks who said yup, I had one like that and until you have one like that you have no idea. A lot of people realized how intense their kid was when they had a second, less intense child.
Gus is smart, on track developmentally (if not ahead), loving, sweet, and overall, a well-behaved child. He just must drink five red bulls each morning upon waking and does not stop. I know I have talked about this here before but I didn’t realize how intense he was until last night.
I learned some things to do differently next week. First, we will sit in the seats closest to the door to the play room so we can intercept him before he gets too far. We need more food. Once he got what he considered enough he calmed down a touch. The problem is he won’t sit for it. Most weeks I will pick him up from daycare and then pick Lesley up and we’ll go to class. From now on when I pick her up she’ll start giving him food when he is strapped into the seat in the back on our way there so we can get something in him before his feet hit the ground. Third, we’ll communicate more clearly about who is on Gus patrol. There is a break in the middle of the class so one of us will take prebreak and one will take postbreak. This way there is no “what should we do” discussion while Gus is on a rampage.
I bought the book “Raising a Spirited Child” this morning. Last night was a bit alarming. While I don’t feel there is a single thing wrong with him I realize my toolbox might need to be a bit bigger with this kid.