I was struck by some words I recently read in “Guerilla Learning” by Grace Llewelyn and Amy Silver. Talking about the importance of recognising our children’s interests, the authors tell us:
“Recognise your kids. Pay attention to them. Acknowledge them. Know them better than they know themselves. It feels deep-down good to be really seen by people we love and who love us…
“Sometimes when we pay attention to our older children, they seem to want to shut us out at times. But more often than not their defensive gestures are a sham, a test: Do you really love me enough to stay interested in me, even when I’m a snotty brat? Is your love unconditional? Older kids very much want to be known. That desire may co-exist (and seem to conflict) with their being embarrassed by you in the presence of their peers, with anger, with their desire for autonomy. But it’s pervasive and strong – and you recognise that in your own life, right? You want your own parents to know you deeply and to accept and love you for exactly who you are even now, as an adult.”
When I first read this, the words registered most in the context of my relationship with my own mother, but today at C’s football practice they came to mind afresh. As she left the pitch I put an arm round her shoulders and asked if she’d enjoyed the game, only to have the arm shaken off and find myself warned by a growling C, “Don’t embarrass me!” Llewellyn and Silver’s words in my ears, I made a gracious retreat and followed C at a respectful distance to the end-of-session presentations -where C was the smiling recipient of the “Player Of The Week” trophy, awarded, according to the coaches, to the player demonstrating “the kind of attitude we want to see among our players”.
As we drove home and C’s blood sugar level began to return to normal thanks to the jam sandwiches I’d thrust in her hands, I silently awarded myself the “player’s mum of the week” award.