All kids do that.

Most of us have experienced this sort of comment.  ‘All kids do that.’ Usually it’s meant well. A ‘sympathetic’ comment  when the person doesn’t know what to say, or just doesn’t get it, or genuinely thinks there’s no difference between their children and those affected by earlier trauma.

The phrase annoys me to varying degrees, and I’ve always assumed that this is dependent upon what is left in my resilience tanks. Topped up and I can shrug it off. (Unless it’s from a ‘professional’ who should know better.) Stressed out and it really annoys me.

A while ago I realised why ‘all kids do that’ occasionally goes way beyond annoying for me. It’s because I interpret the phrase as a total denial of what our daughters have endured.

Denial is the very devil. Denial means the truth is submerged.  Denial means nothing has to change.  I don’t mean that I want all and sundry knowing the girls’ history. Of course I don’t.  That is their story, and they will get to decide if they want to share it.

As a society we are only just emerging from a near total denial of organised child abuse. I am from a generation which experienced prolonged and ritualistic abuse, known about by adults, but not acknowledged. Denied.

As a Social Worker I quickly became aware that many adults with learning disabilities had been, and in some cases were still being, abused.  A fact which many colleagues denied had any impact on people! Labels such as ‘challenging’, ‘personality disorder’ and so on, were  banded about without much thought. Labels which deny the person’s history and consign them to further misery.

The person – friend or professional – who denies may be protecting themselves from uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. But at what cost? 

When you hear ‘all kids do that’, how do you respond? 

Birthday Bubbles

We celebrated Bubble’s birthday this week. She didn’t want a party so we had a pizza with Granny and an Auntie on Monday, complete with chocolate pizza cake, lovingly crafted by Squeak and me. On Tuesday we went to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park with a cousin and another Auntie.  

It’s fab at the YWP. Masses of animals, loads of space to run, and lots of mini adventure spaces. We have been there a few times now and Bubble & Squeak love it. 

As we walked around the park Bubble ran ahead. She didn’t interact with us unless she wanted something to eat. She didn’t want to hold hands. Eye contact was rare. She was not interested in stopping to look at anything, read any information, or engage in any conversation. And of course lunch was practically inhaled followed by lots of jiffling whilst everyone else was still eating. 

This  is typical behaviour and we are very used to it. Yesterday though, I felt increasingly out of sorts as the day progressed. Then I realised that my expectation of how a birthday ‘should’ be was really impinging on my mood. So I gave myself a talking to & I have banned ‘shoulds’ & expectations. Particularly on celebration days when anxieties are heightened.  Bubble was doing as well as she could with the brain she has, to paraphrase Dan Hughes. And that will always be enough. 

Happy Birthday Bubble!