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Friday, 6 November 2015

The Little Adult

Your child will learn to cope. I did. I had family (cousins) and friends that could run and play, doing active things for hours. In group games I would often find the least active role and take that. With one-on-one play I often insisted on playing games I knew I could cope with physically. I could keep up for a little bit but when I got tired I sought out the company of my parents. This had a few purposes.

  • 1,    Adults tend to sit around and chat. For them it’s quiet normal to be sedentary. When you’re around the adults, they’ll tell you to keep quiet and sit still. No problem there.
  • 2.      My peers would not bother me with the peer pressure whines of “but come on and play – we’re all playing!” Why? Because the adults were watching and listening.
  • 3.      I could usually sneak a bite of descent food.

Being in my parent’s company gave me an opportunity to pause, catch my breath and recoup without having to explain or give reasons.
This had a couple of curious side-effects. Being in the company of adults and having to listen to their boring chatter changed the way I saw things as a child. I could tell when children (my peers) were lying, exaggerating or trying to make themselves seem more important somehow.
I also found much of what they did or talked about immature.

There was also the flip side. When adults talked down to me I didn’t like it much either. I was used to adults talking to each other and speaking to my parents as an adult even though I clearly wasn’t. When an adult turned their voice into this honey coated high-pitched smiley-faced pretense to talk to me I found it nauseatingly false. This could also have been because when cardiac professionals like doctors and professors talked to me as a child it was in a matter-of-fact tone in a normal voice. I appreciated that sincerity.

My parents always expected me to eat what they ate. Perhaps they wanted me to experience all I could due to my condition. Perhaps that’s simply how they were.  Even if you had a normal child though, wouldn’t you want them to also experience all they could?
I’ve always appreciated that they would always allow me a taste of what they were having if we ate out or came across a food I’d not tried yet.
It would baffle me when my friend’s parents would prepare a different set of food for us kids and I’d find it insulting that they found us not worthy to eat what they were having. My how I hated those kid hotdogs that parents handed out with such glee and my peers accepted with such gusto. I speak of a bun with a wiener sausage and a slap of ketchup on. The hotdog I was privy to at home had a warm wiener sausage in a lightly buttered bun with tomato and onion relish on. I wasn’t intentionally being snobbish, it’s simply that when I was offered a hotdog, that’s what I expected because that’s what I normally got.

Then there was the crockery and cutlery. Grown-ups would insist on giving me cool drink in a plastic glass or cup and food on a plastic plate.
Yes I was a child. Yes I broke my fair share of crockery but so do adults. I found it infinitely insulting when I wasn’t offered proper crockery or glass glasses or ceramic cups. It was something my parents didn’t buy into. We had what we had and used what we used. They didn’t go out and especially buy me my own crockery.

What has this if anything to do with a child who has a heart condition?

Well, in conclusion: A child with a heart condition is going to spend far more time surrounded by adults than a “normal” healthy child. Yes, that child will want to be a child (excuse the pun) with all their heart BUT adult ways will rub off on them. They will expect to be treated as an adult in some ways and not in others. Their social experience will be vastly different to other children. Perhaps they will be polite about it as I believe I was or perhaps not. Try to understand and treat them with love.

Until the next blog, bye for now.

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