Background: I make eggs for my son probably 5 days a week while he sits less than 6 feet away facing the stove.
Son (as I’m making his eggs this morning): Mom, can I watch the butter turn into eggs?
Me (knowing where this is going but feeling incredulous): What are you talking about !?!?
Son: You put butter in the pan, and then it turns into eggs.
Me: Have you never noticed me cracking eggs into the pan after the butter melts?
Son: Noooo. Then why do you always put butter in?
Me: So the eggs don’t stick.
Just the morning before, his intake evaluator for his panel of neuropsych testing was commenting to me how super-tuned-in he was. This was especially impressive to her because he did not stop moving, climbing, and jumping around the tiny office the entire time she was trying to interview me. However, between the acrobatic maneuvers, he was able to contribute his two-cents about whatever I was telling her about him.
Don’t let his trauma fool you. This is called hypervigilance on top of sensory processing disorder.
He knows whenever something is about him. His survival instinct knows that if it’s about him, he needs to be carefully aware. His past relationship history (although preverbal) has his fight/flight/freeze mode on a hair trigger response. The constant nervousness he feels about protecting himself usually exacerbates his sensory seeking behaviors that, for him, involve constant gross motor movement and acrobatics. Because he’s constantly in survival mode, he doesn’t usually have room for realizing that Mom puts eggs in the pan every morning. If you were being chased by a bear in the woods, would you notice the scenery as it passed by you? Probably not.
Don’t let a trauma kid fool you.
Sometimes they can charm you (that’s another survival tactic) so you believe that they’re okay, but deep inside they are scared to death.
Sometimes their hypervigilance gives the allusion that they are taking in more information than they actually are.
Sometimes their hyperobedience and perfectionism isn’t a sign that they are unaffected by their past, it means they’ve learned to fly under the radar as a protective mechanism or to minimize their interactions with other people.
Trauma is tricky. Has it tricked you lately?