Who is this ‘not-so’ little girl in front of me?
She’s Tilly of course, my daughter, but who is she? What goes on in that complicated brain of hers? When she isn’t ‘present’ in our world, where does her mind go? What does she think about? She can’t speak, but does she have an internal commentary, a silent dialogue with herself, that I’m not party to? Is she able to create words in her head, but unable to vocalize them?
How does she feel when she sits in the bath, her favourite activity, splashing the water? Is she trying to create more bubbles, or is she simply fascinated with the way the water moves? How it looks as it changes when it’s splashed on the side of the bath, or on her skin, or thrown over the side?
I’d love to know what goes on in her head when I play certain music to her – songs that are slow and melodic, the type that help to ease stress. Does she find them as relaxing as I do? She can become so absorbed in them that she looks into the distance and, other than the occasional twitch of her fingers or toes, looks entranced and utterly relaxed. Does she feel the intended effect of the music, or is this one of those episodes when she’s drifted off into her own little world, unaware of the music or her surroundings?
When her brother plays with her and looks her in the eye to tell her or ask her something, is there a part of her that wishes she had the ability to answer his question or to tell him something about their game or their day? Does she feel sad that she can’t have a reciprocal conversation with him?
Does Tilly feel the frustration (I think) I see in her when she attempts to play a game, such as a jigsaw, and can’t put the pieces together? Or am I projecting my own frustration on her? The smile on her face and the eye contact she makes when she succeeds at something tells me that she shares my joy of her success. But does that work the other way? Does she understand when she is unable to do something or does she just move onto the next activity without giving the first a second thought?
I’m asking myself these questions because today, rather than jump out of the car when Tilly & I arrived home from school, we sat for a few minutes listening to the music I was playing (Holocene by Bon Iver and Wait by M83 for anyone who is interested). I watched her. Then when I put her into the bath, I didn’t walk into her bedroom to tidy up and listen to her splashing from a distance. I watched her.
As I’m sure so many of us are guilty of, I spend too much time just ‘doing’, without actually stopping for a moment to look at the here and now. Mindfulness I believe it’s called – something I’ve tried several times and failed at!!
But our children are growing up so fast, and there is so much I’m not really ‘taking in’.
For her brother, it’s about enjoying the innocence he still has and listening to the stories from his wild imagination, or hearing him talk to his cars and toys as if he’s recording his own ‘YouTube’ video.
For Tilly, its about learning more about who she is rather than seeing her as my daughter with the additional needs that I need to fight and campaign for. She is a person, with a wonderful little personality, but there is so much more that I can learn about her if I just stop and watch her more often.
Here’s to more watching and listening, and less running around and doing!