The Secret I Shared with the Family of a “Spirited” Child

What I told the family of the spirited child in the hotel restaurant  Pamela Price for

Since my last post here my mother has been in the hospital twice, I finished the formal first draft of my second book, and we took a two-week vacation to England and France.


While I was abroad, GHF hosted another blog hop, this time on being gifted (and dealing with giftedness) at different stages of life. It was on the very same day of the hop that this story happened, in a hotel dining room just steps away from the Arc de Triomphe. As soon as it occurred, I knew that I’d be writing as my response to the hop.

There we were again. At breakfast in an swanky urban European hotel with a specific, rowdy 2-year-old boy determined to make his presence known in the world. The child was verbally precocious for his age, and his energy level hinted at inborn psychomotor overexcitability.

Just my kind of kid.

His own parents looked stressed, anxious. Having talked for years about parents of gifted children needing to feel acceptance, I sent hubby and my own kid upstairs. Then I nursed my cup of tea as I waited to strike.

The little boy is the one who gave me the invitation to engage. He locked eyes with me and held the gaze, his dark eyes flashing a deep recognition of someone at once new and friendly.

“Well, hello, there,” I said. His eyes widened, stimulated by my receptivity to his being. His body gave a wiggle.

His loving, highly attentive father–already used to strangers’ frequent judgements and thus conditioned to try to right perceived social wrongs–began to apologize for the interruption of my tea sipping.

With target locked, I moved in for the kill.

“Oh, no. He’s not bothering me one bit. He’s wonderful.”

The mother looked up.

“He’s. . . exhausting?”

“He probably is,” I replied, leaning in with a whisper, “But the most challenging little ones often become the most intelligent, the most interesting when they get older.”

Joy and relief spread across her face. She pushed back her chair from the table and relaxed her arms as she opened her body to me in a gesture of connection.

“That’s what my mother keeps telling me!”

“Just you wait. It gets better.

She smiled and shot a look of  relief to her husband. He grinned.

Beneath the table the boy giggled and tried to make eye contact again. There was a time in my  own life when I would have judged the parents harshly for not making the boy stay seated. That time is long gone. As long as parents are clearly engaging with a kid (as this couple was), I now figure that such behavior is a manifestation of something other than disobedience, something in a child’s own wiring.

Instead of judging, I looked right at that spirited, jubilant little face, and tapped into all the love in my heart, all the while thinking a little acceptance from a stranger would keep him open to the world rather than shut him off from it.

“Bye-bye, love. Have a good day!” I said.

He waved happily.


As I made my way to the hotel elevator, I caught site of the father smiling broadly at his wife as he lifted the boy high into the air. The woman moved her chair forward, sat up a little straighter, and reached out for her teacup. Their own conversation resumed with noticeably less self-consciousness.

Indeed the lilt of the mother’s sweet, gentle laugh stayed with me as the elevator rose up, up, up.



  1. Your story brought a tear to my eye when I read it this morning. I once was the parent with ‘that child’ – and can imagine the kind of weight you lifted off the shoulders of those parents. How you described their immediate lightening of mood was a beautiful thing. Such a kind gesture on your part, and one that I’m sure will not be forgotten.

    • Aw, thanks for the sweet comment. It’s amazing how far a little love and kindness will go if spread. Have a lovely week, Ro.

  2. I had someone say that to me once, when my son was a toddler, and I still treasure those words now that he’s a teenager. Thanks for sharing this heartwarming story!

  3. My almost 8 year old is a spirited child and I would have loved to hear that from someone as opposed to the negative comments I usually received (and still get). On behalf of that mother, thank you for speaking up and letting them in on the secret, its one I remind myself often. 🙂

  4. I loved the blog! A very touching reminder of how beautiful authentic attunement can help. A big thank you for helping me get in touch again with that..

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