Image from here
When trauma and loss happen most of us know what to do. We know who to call, where to seek help and what we can (kind of) expect about the ways to cope. I guess we’re the ambulance chasers of our own experience.
But what happens to kids when life and all its catastrophes happen?
Catastrophes in a kids world can be big and small – they’re not proportional to ours. They have different meaning and the lens by which they explore them doesn’t match with the life lessons we’ve endured.
Centuries ago when I started working as child protection caseworker I did a whole lot of training on how to talk to kids, the ways to build rapport with a small person that had never laid eyes on you before. I cant imagine how scary that would be for a small person to be expected to bare their soul to someone – but I do know that being a place of safety for a kid overrides that fear of stepping into their lives for the first time.
Every Friday night my daughter and I drive a small distance to her dance class. We changed classes this year to a spot that was a few minutes walk away but I realised that in doing that I missed the chance to talk. Its funny to watch a 6 year old grappling with her identity, how quickly some kids are able to reflect on the who’s, whats and whys of their existence. In the driving to and fro we created chances for random, but meaningful conversation.
We started back at that place a little further away this term. As each Friday night looms I think of 1000 reasons why Id prefer to be at home with my Ugg boots on but once we’re set, when a small person has been dropped to his cousins and bigger girls are OK to wait for Dad to get home from work I relish in the talk of the journey.
Its been on these trips that Ive been able to explain divorce, explain the difference between Daddy and Dada, the reasons why its Ok to be married to 2 people (but hey not at the same time. This isn’t Dr Phil) and about what makes us happy and sad. Its not all drama, its all the places in between.
It was raining on Friday, the streetlights were bright and they smeared across the windscreen, the singing between her and I to songs that probably arent suited to a 6 year old were belted out. She cleared her throat and said ‘mum, tell me about you as a kid…do you think you were as funny as me?’.
Riding in cars with kids can create the chance to stare out the window and solve the dilemmas of the world.