There are some difficult lessons to be learned about human relationships during a lifetime, and we have to deal with some of the toughest ones in our tenderest years.
A friend of mine has a ten year old daughter who is presently going through the pain of a group of three friends splitting up, into one pair of best mates and one abandoned loner. My friend’s little girl is the one who’s been kicked out. I feel for her, I really do, I remember the same thing happening to me when I was eleven - that extra year giving no extra buffer - and I didn’t have to contend with social media and a world of more sophisticated methods to make a person feel isolated. I also feel for my friend.
We glibly talk about how the cycle of life brings us back to a childlike existence once we reach our dotage, but I had this brought home to me last week, through a very specific example.
I was on the phone to my 80 year old mother, and once we’d made arrangements to meet for lunch, she said, “Well, at least that’ll give me something to do.”
I asked her if she often found herself with nothing to do, or at a loose end, and she told me that these days she regularly got really bored.
Recently I’ve been pondering how much harder we make everything by assuming that we know best, and our children need protecting from themselves.
I’m not sure how we got here. How did we get to a place where our initial reaction to what our children tell us, is often suspicion? Or rebuttal.
In a recent online conversation, a parent wrote this to me about her son:
“My job, I feel, is to encourage him. Build his confidence, not push his boundaries, therefore I practise believing him and believing in him. Who am I to break his dreams, fantasies and ponderings? What if he’s right and a Zombie apocalypse is nigh and we should prepare? What if his fear is justified? His pain is real and his worries make him stop still.