Child wants vs. child needs?
When it comes to Lady P, she is a very determined “two-nager”. She knows what she wants. She knows what she doesn’t want.
2 going on 14 at times. Mostly whilst we are in Tesco.
Since turning two, she “needs to do it”. Whatever the ‘it’ may be, we are not allowed to help her.
She “needs” to put her own nappy on for bed.
She “needs” to open the fridge to find her own snack.
She “needs” to comb my hair (I’m lucky to still have both eyes).
You’re starting to get the picture, right?
Sure, she needs me to make her food, to keep her warm, to love her, and to teach her how to be a good person. But as a parent, that just feels like part of the job. It’s just ‘stuff we do’, and I reckon that most parents would agree it’s all in a day’s work.
When my child needed me last?
The only recent time that she explicitly said she needed me and couldn’t rely on her independent side, was on a trip to “hell on earth”.
I mean, soft play.
After a busy morning at nursery, I picked up a very tired Lady P. What I really should have done was to bring her home and try to get her to have an afternoon nap… Remember those? Nah, me either.
If I’d have attempted that though, a) she would have fought me for 2 hours before I gave in, b) the builders’ singing would have most likely woken her up, c) we wouldn’t get to see the friends we’d arranged to meet for the last month.
So, too late to cancel, we went anyway.
As soon as her foot hit the spongy floor, she dug deep into her energy reserves and found a second wind. I watched her and her little friend tear around for close to 2 hours.
As she climbed to the upper level for the umpteenth time though, I could see something was different. Her batteries had run out.
Through tiredness, this time she couldn’t work out how to get down. She looked around in sheer exhaustion and I could see the fear come over her face. She put her head in her hands as she couldn’t hold back the tears, crying out for ‘Mummy’.
At no point was she in any real danger, especially as I’d already supervised her going up and down that section numerous times. In her mind though, she was lost.
I shouted to her that I was coming to help and made my way up, ninja-Mum style.
As I reached her, she held out her tired little arms and I guided her to the slide for us to go down together. She was so relieved to have her Mummy when, in her opinion, she really needed her.
This moment stuck with me.
What a child really needs
Although the work World Vision are doing does not involve soft play of any description, they are trying to protect children all around the world from the same thing that Lady P faced that very moment; fear.
Lady P was just a tired toddler in a play centre, with her mummy very close at hand. A mummy (and daddy) that work their bums off to make sure she is never in danger, goes without, or where possible is even unhappy.
There are a lot of children that are not so lucky. Children with very little hope or quality of life.
Thinking about all of this made me realise that the things we take for granted as ‘just part of the job’ are actually the most important. Love, warmth and guidance are the things children really need.
Can you remember the last time your child needed you?