Although there’s been more focus, especially in education, on mental health and wellbeing over recent years it sometimes feels like the progress made in changing our cultures has been beyond slow. Whatever age we are sometimes we don’t have the skills, time, self-knowledge, self-love, patience, kindness, relationships, environments or trust to keep well. Sometimes what we feel is bigger than us.
Especially if we’re wee.
For example, Rowdy generally needs to be shoved in a tree during a meltdown, but at some point later she’ll be more comfortable talking about what’s bothering her.* Other times she’ll regress and drive us demented with babytalk just to get attention and fulfil a need to reaffirm that she’s loved and valued. The Bobcat is an avoider and would much rather play than talk about what’s making him sad which is why he needs someone to play with him and tell them they’re ready to listen if he wants to talk. And make sure he’s hydrated. For me I need nature, adventure, exercise, cuddles, drawing, occasionally woodsmoke, books, laughter and quiet friend-time. And no caffeine. Sometimes a crowbar is necessary to prise laughter out of me. Dynamite if I’m properly down.
Next week whatever works for them might well change again. But it’s import to keep the door open for change.
*Rowdy has never been twanged into a tree but I’m sure The Bobcat would happily offer to build a catapult to do exactly that. (He’d also need to check if Eddie Izzard has the copyright on twanging folk into trees first.)
Not that Rowdy realised that it actually is Badger Week but she has retaken to the toy badger given to her by a Wootie*. The Wootie is particularly fond of brocky things.
Badgers tend only to get feisty if under attack. So given that Meghan here is squished under several pounds of eight-year-old at night, rammed against the wall, regularly drooled on and deafened by snores that could power multiple wind turbines it’s a wonder Rowdy isn’t covered in scratches. Make-believe or otherwise.
*A Wootie is what happens when an 18-month-old tries, and fails, to say ‘auntie’. And it sticks.
Immediately, and reasonably, the question is: “They’re under eights. How is anything about a building of historic interest interesting?” Surely you’re just spending an hour dragging them round trying to find the toilets and then keeping their mouths occupied with a bag of Bear Claws? Perhaps long enough for you to glance at a tapestry, avoiding shooshes and hard stares that Paddington Bear would struggle to rival?
But happily, no. They’re a veritable haven of activity*.
1. Hide and seek – this has pros and cons so you need ground rules (e.g. up someone’s cassock doesn’t count).
2. Count the dead guys.
3. Chase the monk (extra points if you locate the mead stash).
4. Find the ‘secret’ passageway.
5. Find God. (This usually gets some interesting feedback: e.g. the gravedigger; a cat and; If this is His house why is He never home?’)
6. Don’t step on a crack.
7. Which is you favourite stained glass window? Bonus: whole different activity making their own up when they get home!
8. Scariest gargoyle face.
9. Acoustics championships:
Tip: Depending on the timing of your visit you can actually leave just after the shop has closed so you don’t have to pay for something they’ve grabbed, broken and tried to disguise using other toys under the hawklike watch of the till assistant.
*So long as you’re comfortable with the probability of being asked to leave.