Saturday, October 6


One of the things I find hard when thinking of the short term future is how to deal with questions, especially relating to Wriggles, her health and her past. I am used to dealing with them on an adult-to-adult basis with varying answers and an even more varying success rate but am fairly aware that in time these questions may also come from Wriggles' peers and other children, and ultimately Wriggles herself.

I guess the plus side is that children lack the knowledge, depth of foresight and preconceptions that adults do. They accept people and answers more readily and are in the most part, less malicious or ignorant. On the down side, they are often really blunt. And when you don't have an easy peasy answer, it can sometimes take you aback.

This afternoon, a five year old niece of my a dear friend of mine, was watching Wriggles bumble about whilst holding my hands. Her aunt explained that Wriggles is now 2 and is practising walking.

"Why can't she walk yet?" the child asked incredulously. "My one year old brother can walk."

Why can't she walk indeed? There are SO many answers that as an adult I can only begin to get my head around. But for a five year old? Why can't she walk when others, younger, can?

"All babies do things at different times," her aunt explained. "And Wriggles is very clever. Do you know she can sign things?"

"My baby brother can say things," the child said scornfully.

Of course, she wasn't being really scornful. It was a thing of the moment and she is five, and as an adult I can appreciate she was being a child. Because children always have and always will do the "my X is better than your X" thing. It's touching really, a pride in their own surroundings and familiarity. But in a split second I felt sad. It felt like I was making excuses and belittling my child's progress and the enormity of her journey. It isn't always appropriate to tell it how it is, depending on the audience or situation. I am also increasingly aware that Wriggles is becoming more receptive to what is said about her and to her, both from the point of view of questions but also the answers. 

Once the little girl had heard that Wriggles was born early, she was fascinated. Cobbled between myself and my friend, we tried to explain that Wriggles came too early from her mummy's tummy before she was ready and was very small and very poorly. This seemed to go down satisfyingly and after a few wide-eyed moments, the subject was dropped in favour of walking on the garden wall.

But is the subject ever dropped for a parent? Maybe for the moment, but I know this is likely to be the start of many questions. It is so hard to answer them when you yourself don't have all the answers, or satisfying ones. 

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