We all worry don’t we? From the little things like whether you remembered to put toothpaste on the shopping list to the vast array of troubling issues in the big wide world around us.
Children are no different. The title of this post comes from a song on the soundtrack of the fabulous film adaptation of ‘Where the wild things are.’ : a perfect study of what it is like to be a child burdened with worries.
For me, the surprise has been the sheer range of things that trouble my children and cause them to lie awake at night. Here are just some of the examples of the things that currently worry them:
This worry has emerged on many occasions, triggered, in the main, by studying History at school. Now I am not a Historian so correct me if I’m wrong, but a great deal of the subject seems to be concerned with violence and bloodshed. Whilst this is clearly very interesting and important to learn about, it does also appear to have given my children a disproportionate fear that they may imminently find themselves living in a war zone.
Studying WW2 left Ana with weeks of sleepless nights and tears over the fact that we may be on the cusp of WW3. I often find it challenging to walk the line between being truthful about the state of the world and trying to ease her concerns, hence my responses – in summary – were something like this:
‘Yes Ana, there are lots of countries at war and lots of people fighting.’
‘No I don’t think WW3 is about to breakout.’
‘No, I can’t guarantee that it won’t either.’
‘Yes, the world is a worrying place’
‘Sigh’ ‘Why don’t we watch ‘Come dine with me?’
Worse was to come when Ana began to teach Faith what she had learnt and we then ended up with weeks of Faith watching the skies for bombs and suggesting we go to the cellar as our bomb shelter. I am never letting these two watch Saving Private Ryan, let alone any Oliver Stone Vietnam classics – they would never recover!
2. The news.
Faith has a significant issue with the news at the moment. She can’t watch it and interrupts anyone discussing it to tell them to stop talking about it. Even starting a sentence with ‘I heard on the news…’ is enough to get her covering her ears and begging you to change the subject.
Solution: ‘Why don’t we all watch ‘Come dine with me?’
3. Agatha Christie TV adaptations
Now this one is probably my fault. When I was off with a poorly Faith before Christmas, I mistakenly assumed that it was like when they were little and you could basically have any grown up TV on in the background and they would take no notice. Unfortunately, my happy afternoon of ironing and watching Miss Marple whilst Faith dozed on the sofa resulted in a flurry of questions and, ultimately, panicked tears as Faith tried to estimate her chances of being murdered in any number of inventive ways made to look like an accident. Ohps! Best cross Miss Marple off my list of appropriate family viewing…..’How about instead (you’ve guessed it!) we watch ‘Come dine with me?’
4. Being a good person
Ana (my clone child) has an excessive dose of guilt. She feels bad when she might have upset someone; she feels guilty when she spills or breaks thing (and no amount of immediate reassurance that it doesn’t matter will alter that); and she is particularly concerned with ‘doing the right thing’. Now this is all very admirable, clearly and – truth be known – being the shoddy parent that I am, I often manipulate it to my advantage to ‘encourage’ good behaviour, but even I recognise that her worries are slightly over-the-top. When she came downstairs late one evening before Christmas to tell me, through the sobs, that she couldn’t sleep as she kept think about ‘all the bad things I have done’, I realised I had met my match. This girl can worry for England! ‘Nevermind. Why don’t we watch ‘Come dine with me?’
5. Plans for the future.
Both girls are very keen on discussing their future career choices. Ana oscillates between a career as a teacher; an animal rescuer and a horse rider (I have been talking her out of this one as there is no way the budget is stretching to riding lessons!). Faith, on the other hand, is firmly on the path to veterinary school brushing off Ana’s cries that ‘It takes 7 years to learn to be a vet!’ with the admirable comment that ‘It will give me lots of time to practise being a good vet.’ Given that she has a tendency to manhandle our cats and that her recent encounter with our grumpy cat Honey left her scarred and bleeding, I’d suggest it will give her time to realise what my repeated pleas have failed to teach her – animals are not toys!
A further concern surrounds the idea of who they will live with. Neither are currently keen on the prospect of marriage or children (our ‘where do babies come from?’ talk is still a vivid memory for both of them (http://motherinferiorblog.com/2014/09/13/where-do-babies-come-from/) and they want no part of it!). Instead, they have both, very sensibly, opted to live with friends, although in coming to this conclusion Faith considered living with Grandma (ruled out on the basis that ‘she is old and might die so I would be left on my own.’) and staying with me (although that possibility was soon replaced by a better option when she realised she might be able to get my house instead). Currently, Ana is planning on a flat share with her closest pals, but Faith has bigger plans and has begun designing her future home – ‘a blueberry you can live in’.
So there you have it – the whole gamut of worries experienced by the under 10s. No wonder they sometimes want to run away to an island full of ‘wild things’!
Luckily, I have the ultimate solution: we’ll get a nice glass of milk and cuddle up to watch the telly together. To mis-quote Pooh Bear ‘No-one can be uncheered with ‘Come dine with me.’