Over the years, I’ve learnt to be a shield for my children.
I shield them from sports days to avoid all the people, I shield them by going in the inside way to school so that it’s calmer, I shield them from parties, where I know they’ll find it too hard to manage. I shield them by keeping routines the same as much as possible.
When we attempt new things, I shield them by using strategies that I know help, with crunchy snacks, with soft clothes, with ear defenders, with chewy necklaces, with preparation, with keeping close.
I shield them by trying to be alert to all situations that could possibly be a trigger for them.
I shield them from each other. I’ve slept on the floor for nearly a year to give them both the space they need. I’ve sat in the hall too many times to count so they can both see me and talk to me, when they can’t be together. I’ve literally been a human shield to stop one being hurt by the other.
I shield them from people who don’t understand. Who ask questions and demand answers. Who tell them repeatedly that they’re smiling so they’re happy. Who touch them constantly.
But I’m discovering that my shield isn’t big enough. I can’t shield Little from Big’s trauma. She is going to sleep surrounded by it, she wakes up surrounded by it and she’s had enough. It doesn’t matter how tight I cuddle her, how many quiet songs I sing, I can’t protect her from it, it seeps through. I’m really struggling to keep her safe at the moment and it feels terrible.
I can’t shield Big from everything that could possibly be a trigger. I can’t shield her from the thousands of things that life throws at her everyday.
And of course, there was the time in my children’s life when I couldn’t shield them. I couldn’t shield them from the hurt, the neglect, the terrifying experiences they had. But then, if I had been able to, would they need shielding from so much now?
The best bits
‘Look mummy! Cat’s faces! Daddy says you have to drive over the faces to keep them clean!’
‘Look mummy, I found a P2! A P2! No wait, what is it? A 2p? Look mummy, I found a P2!’
Big did a backward roll to standing this week at gymnastics. (On the slope.) This is huge progress, she’s getting so much stronger.