Thursday, 29 September 2011
I am currently working on developing an equalities consultation plan and in my research I came across a consultation on the Olympic Park site where the facilitators had run a workshop session with school children (www.fundamental.uk.net/downloads/LegacyReport.pdf ). One of the quotes from the children seemed rather poignant to me:
‘I want a park near to houses. School should be near to mum and dad’s work, so they can look out of the window and see me at school, and then after they can take me to the park.’
I thought about how small the things are that make children happy: being close to their parents, being visible to their parents, spending time together and going to the park together. We jump through so many hoops sometimes to get the things that make our children happy. We run around shopping malls, spend money, take them to places far away, spend hours preparing for the perfect party, when in reality they just want to be near us and have a small part of our attention focussed on them.
I recall when we took a family trip to Scotland. We took the kids to Edinburgh Castle, Arthurs Seat, on a speedboat ride and to various restaurants. When asked what their favourite memory of the trip was, they unanimously agreed it was our stroll along Loch Lomond’s shore. I remember this was the moment when we stopped trying to show them stuff or get them to do things and just slowed down and were able to focus on the present for a while. We looked for pretty stones and bits of sea glass (or lake glass?) whilst the kids dad tried to feed ice-cream to a very aggressive swan
Another lovely memory from the trip was our stroll through the village by the lake to some shady woodland. We sat on a bridge over a small stream and watched for tiny fish. The mixture of the magical setting lit by dappled sunshine, the peaceful moment and being together and present in the moment has meant that we will always cherish that memory.
The kids reply about their favourite memory was a lesson to me. It reminded me to calm down, slow down and try to do less if I wanted the time I spent with them to mean more. It reminded me I should turn my full focus on them, take in everything they are saying and doing. In doing so I would make them feel valued, important and cared for.