Apart from learning ‘on the job’ as a parent, I have probably gleaned the most about children, and parenting, from Brenda Crowe’s fabulous book Play is a Feeling. Packed with adult’s vivid childhood memories, including frequently the feeling of injustice when they were misunderstood or thwarted in their well-considered endeavours, Crowe gives a much-needed reminder of what it’s like to be a child. Several years later I’m still struck by the child deeply engrossed in tracing the line of floor tiles in a supermarket queue, who when picked up for fear that they would get trodden on, screamed and cried inconsolably. Although completely understandable and well-intentioned, this adult inadvertently interrupted an act of deep concentration resulting in the child not being able to trace the line to the end of the tiles. The adult recalling this could still remember the feeling of frustration as the task they had set themself had been thwarted. In other examples, acts that might be interpreted by adults as bad behaviour, such as tearing pages out of a book, were actually well-considered actions motivated by positive intentions. Like the precious old book, whose text was punctuated by occasional full colour picture plates and the little girl who had torn out the text pages, reasoning that the little boy and girl in the pictures looked sad because the text in between was stopping them taking to each other.

I was reminded of children’s wonderful logic this week on a trip to the Doctors. Catching up on his childhood immunisations my little boy was returning for yet another injection. We’d gone equipped with a bag of sweeties to distract and the promise of sitting in the front of the car on the way home. When I tried to encourage him to come and sit on my lap near the nurse, he cowered on a chair in the corner while screwing his eyes up and munching on a sweet. It was then that he shared his wonderful logic ‘I need to cry first as then it won’t hurt’. As it happened he didn’t cry and hopefully discovered that the two are not necessarily linked. Although judging by the blood and bruising, perhaps not!

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