Month: October 2017

Day 2 – What’s In A Sunset For A Kid?

There will come a day when Adam will be interested in watching the sun sink down over the sea and below the mountains, but today wasn’t it.
He was too busy digging and leaping, conquering sand and driftwood on the beach.
I was superfluous to his needs.
He only noticed the symptoms of the sun having left like wanting a hoody on, or that he can’t see things as well. He got angry that he was cold, saying ‘I don’t want to come here ever again!’.

It was a good opportunity to talk to him about being aware of his surroundings with the cause and effect it has on everyone, and taking responsibility for how we choose to react to that. We can see them as cues for preparation and transition to the next phase, or let them take us by surprise, making us flounder like a victim. With the gentle daily repetition, the sun reassures us that this day is nearly finished, and that tomorrow is another chance to do things differently. I said it in simpler terms for him of course.

Just like the gentle repetition of the words of parenthood that affirm and build lifelong trust between a parent and child, the child learns to trust themself.
With so many things changing around us that we have no control over or its outcome, it’s reassuring that the sun will be here again tomorrow and each day after that, even with the clouds as a distraction that will soon blow away. The cyclic nature of our planet reveals itself in us.

22279885_1874933849213667_5870880550750145667_nI love the contrast of that beautiful soft light touching everything, sucking and holding the warmth for one last minute, quickly chilling to cool blue tones.
As Adam hugs in for warmth, I tell him that the sun is saying goodbye to us and hello to people on the other side of the world where they are just waking up.

‘Will it come back?’ he says with wide eyes.
‘Yes, of course, it always comes back.’
‘Ok,’ then he and the dog head to the sanctuary of the car, coating the seat with a fresh spray of glittering white sand.
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© Words & Photography by Paula M Cunniffe, New Zealand.
This article may be republished with permission from the author.

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Day 1 – How hard is it to make a child laugh?

I’d wished my own childhood away with the hopes of more engagement from my parents, then spent the childhood of my own kids thinking ‘what the hell am I doing?’ I relived the horror of my upbringing, feeling like a stunned mullet as I identified each stage from the opposite role. I couldn’t wait for the next stage to end, then it really was all over. With no life experience to draw on, I had no chance to modify the trajectory of their lives. All the missed opportunities to engage and enrich by slowing down to listen, validate and just enjoy. Now I’m raising my grandson.

So, we’re taking part in this 30 Day Slow Down Childhood Challenge. It really spoke to my heart when I saw it on Facebook, so I signed up. Seeing the calendar on paper makes it sound so simple, but the lessons are quite profound.

Day one is all about making your child laugh. How hard can that be? I realised we’d been living the last year making it from day to day, one problem to the next. I pushed aside opportunities to bring myself down to my grandson’s level when he asked. Simple things like building a hut in the lounge, tying a tarpaulin between the bushes to eat under, or to tickle him in a contrived way bringing a bout of belly laughter. The kind of activities that make no sense in a day that demands so many meals, cleaning up, and making sure everyone’s physical needs are met.

I consciously had to make an effort to lock eyes with him. Listening to his faltering attempts to tell a joke I’d heard a hundred times, I had to retain my element of surprise. The urge to correct was over-bearing as I bit my lips together in anticipation. I feigned a hearty laugh, all the while thinking about the work I needed to get done before getting the groceries. Right then I noticed his face had lit up as I’d been made privy to a tiny piece of his six year old world. Grinning widely, he slipped his small, warm hands in mine.
‘I love it when you laugh with me, nana.’
Our rewards were instant.

© Words & Photography by Paula M Cunniffe, New Zealand.
This article may be republished with permission from the author.