When you’re 6, tired and hungry

We went out to watch the local fireworks last night and while we were there we bumped into one of Amélie’s best friends from school. She was desperate to try and see her friends but when she saw one of them she was very quiet, and although this little girl was so excited to see Amélie and was walking right by her, chatting away to her, Amélie ignored everything she said and just kept facing the other way.

I kept saying to her how she shouldn’t ignore her friend as she is talking to her, but Amélie remained silent and non-responsive to her friend. I felt awful for her and eventually she kind of gave up trying to chat to Amélie. It was about 5.30pm, and Amélie was both hungry and tired as her little brother had been crying in the night before. I am sure this was why Amélie wasn’t feeling very sociable when she saw her friend, but even so we explained to her that even though she was tired and hungry, she should still speak to her friends when they talk to her. Amélie has this trait where she just shuts down and won’t respond when she finds something difficult or when she’s anxious. I really don’t want this to mean that people think badly of her, or feel that she’s rude (which is exactly how I would’ve read last night’s situation).

Today, she was writing Christmas cards for her school friends and I said maybe she could write a note to say sorry in the card for her friend from last night. The picture here is some of what she wrote in the card. She went on to draw a picture of,the two of them and the words “best friends forever”.

It’s hard being 6, isn’t it?

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“Taking steps is easy, standing still is hard”

Or should that be “sitting still is hard”?

My youngest daughter Geneviève is now crawling and pulling herself up on anything and everything to be standing and moving, more mobile, more independent. I’ve been crawling for years, I don’t know why it’s taken her entire life so far to learn what she sees me do every day. Okay, she was only 9 and a half months old when she mastered it, I’ll let her off.

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I always wondered what my children would think of their mum and how I do things differently to other people, other mums. As I’ve said before, I know that Amélie knows that I don’t walk, and that I use a chair. But does she know why? Does she query in her little head why I hold my fork with both hands, or a pen with both hands, why I crawl when I’m not in my chair. I wonder if she knows that I could walk, but can’t now. Would that scare her? (this is going to be full of rhetorical questions, apologies in advance).

And now my second baby has started her own little journey to becoming more able than I am. Not that I would wish for anything different, but it does sting a little to think they’ll never know me as ever having stood up. I have one short home-video clip of me, rather precariously, walking out of our house and down two steps aged about 11. I’d like to show that clip to my girls one day so they know that I have once and for the majority of my life (for now) been non-seated, and to enlighten them a little to the assortment of abilities they will observe in people as they grow up.

Every time I do something that one of my children needs me to, and I mean something mundane like opening a packet, or helping my three year old take off her clothes, I do wonder whether at some point Amélie (and Geneviève at a later stage) will start consciously comparing me to other parents, other people, and their lives with other children’s lives.

Amélie has, before now, gotten frustrated at my lack of ability in helping her do things, I am sure. It hurts, but slowly she has started accepting that I can be of use to her in some of the same physical ways that her daddy is. She has recently started offering me the sleeve of her top when she can’t pull her arm out, knowing that I will grab the edge of the fabric with my teeth and let her pull her own arm out. Like that’s totally normal. Oh crap, I’m an assistance dog, aren’t I?

It’s little things like this that make our family so vastly different from everyone else’s, despite our best efforts to remain blended in with the rest. It’s when we’re with others in the public domain, and when my girls are of the age where they know that people do unfortunately make assumptions and come to irrational conclusions about others, that I really fear for what they might go through. This is something that I’ve already been preparing them for, I hope, by just doing what I need to for them. Regardless of who’s watching.

Will they have to ‘defend’ my capabilities, my ability to talk and make decisions, to look after them, to be just as much a parent as daddy, when their new friends, or ferociously curious peers start interrogating them in school? There’s too much to think about and wonder. An endless black hole of questions with no answers until the time comes.

Until then, then.