Friday, 20 September 2013

Noise fatigue

A friend was recently relating how her 4 1/2 year old is starting to talk back and argument, and how she likes, in comparison, her youngest one's 'monkey talk'.

I agree that toddler talk is very sweet and that argumentation, when your patience is running thin and all you want is some peace, argumentation then is frankly quite annoying. Still the no-language phase had its downside too.

DB is now 23 months and not remotely bothered with learning to talk. Well she has two languages to learn for one thing,  plus she's far too busy developing 'higher' skills (or so she seems to think) as observed in her siblings' doings. Saying 'No' and her brother's name with every possible inflection makes her content in expressing what she needs to express.
However... With her needs and wants getting more varied and complex Mummy's intuition isn't always enough to know what her dear little one wants. It can be extremely frustrating for both of us. Especially when, presented with the wrong offering, she starts whining. Oh the whining! That really gives me noise fatigue.

I know, I know, this week's cartoon is only vaguely linked to the post... It was inspired by a friend's status on Facebook about her daughter singing "J'aimerai toujours
Le temps des bêtises." (I will always love the time of silly things)
The real words being "J'aimerai toujours
Le temps des cerises." (I will always love the time of cherries).
Another kind of noise fatigue!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Aren't human beings interesting?

I have just finished reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling and I was practically in tears while reading the end. I thought that such a good read was worth sharing and I wrote a post to that effect on my Facebook page.

Reactions quickly followed but they were not what I had expected... Two of my friends declared they had never read anything so dull.


Now for those who haven't read the book, the title refers to the death - and concurrently a vacant space - of one of the members of the local parish council. This event reveals a division between the inhabitants of Pagford, division caused by a council housing estate, the Fields, attached to the parish and thus making Pagford's primary school the catchment area school for the children living on the estate.
Follows a battle to fill the empty space, causing fears, resentments and animosities to surface.
True, the story is slow paced. True, none of the characters is at first particularly likeable. But all the characters are profoundly human and intricate, and very well described. I couldn't help feeling repulsion, irritation, or pity for them.


Several of the key characters are teenagers, all struggling with one thing or another but none quite as much a Sukhvinder, bullied  and entertaining suicidal thoughts, and Krystal, daughter of a mother too far gone into drug dependency to ever get out of it, Krystal, living a squalid life, trying her utmost to protect and keep close to her her three year old brother.

The story culminates in the election to the parish council and some tragic events that will cast a completely different light on the characters, especially again, I felt, Sukhvinder and Krystal. In these last events the character of Krystal reminded me of Snape in Harry Potter, both shrouded in darkness and yet shining, unknown to most, of indomitable courage and love, both also irremediably subjected to human weaknesses and failings.

I just don't understand how could anyone with the least interest in human beings could not be moved by that ending.

Dull? I don't think so.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Answering the Big Questions

It's quite common to hear parents relate how their little ones asked one of the Big Question : How are babies made ? Cue giggles and stories of embarrassing discussions.

Not so common to hear about the other Big Question : Will I die ? And yet one doesn't go without the other, Life and Death, the two profound mysteries... In my experience the question about Death also comes earlier, around 5 as far as my own children are concerned.
Of course it's a difficult question, especially as children tend to refer to themselves when they approach it. So, a Big, Difficult question, relatively and singularly lacking in momentum when it comes to it. . Asked on the way to school, over breakfast cereals, or when you're changing the baby's nappy!

I know that some parents choose to tell an outright lie or to ignore the question. Personally I try to be as truthful as possible. I think that when children ask the question it's because they have enough knowledge to sense that there is something there worth knowing and that they're not fooled by lies or silence. I even believe that lying can just make them more scared ; if they have no elements of truth they can render themselves to the wildest imaginings...

It's this very morning that my nearly 5 year old came up with the Big Question about Death. We talked about it being part of life, flowers that wither and die and are followed by new flowers. People who grow old and die and are followed by new people. I wanted to tell him the truth but not overload him with information either so, I confess, I said that most people die very old. I am lucky to have a grand-mother who lived to her 99th birthday and then died peacefully in her sleep, so I told him about her.

I also told him that in our family we believe in God and we believe that, when people die, they go to live with God and Jesus.

I know that one day he will ask about his brothers and why they died before they were even born. DD2 mentioned them when we were talking about living with Jesus but he chose to ignore it. When he's ready and ask, we'll cross that bridge.

It's interesting to talk about these things with children, they've got such a different vision of it than us. What worried DS the most was to leave his house and toy cars...!