Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Squabble squabble snap snap

My kids were ratty all last week. Squabble squabble snap snap shriek shriek shriek. It drove me to distraction. I pulled away, left them to it and winced; or waded in, yelled left and right, and grew even more annoyed.

On the weekend, I took one daughter out by herself. The next day, I spent a few hours just with the second. All became sweetness and light.

When my kids need attention, they get grotty. They argue with each other and me; they shriek in the upper registers, their shrill voices ricocheting around the house; they grab and snatch, push and pull; they become hostile. They make it difficult to hug them. Some days, I react. Some days, I have to wash dishes and clothes and floors, and do the school run and change nappies and cook dinner, and slow time with my children feels impossible. But some days, I remember to offer cuddles for crabbiness; a prickly child quickly melts.

It makes me wonder about myself. When I need affection, I don't become affectionate. Like my kids, I get crotchety and cross. Lucky for me, I have a partner who vaults the barriers and loves me anyway. But what of those whose lives lack love? Can I look at them and think of my kids? Think of them as children, too? When I'm met with hostility and aggression, can I open my heart as I would to a child? Can I offer love in return? Or will I pull away and reinforce the absence of love in their lives? The choice seems clear. But living it out - well, there's a puzzle.

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